Sunday, 3 June 2012

Book covers and why they are important

On Tuesday I went to the talk run by the SCBW-BI about book covers.  There was a panel of three people: David Fickling the publisher, Eleanor Updale the author and David Bean the cover designer. As usual I wrote pages of notes, so will try to condense it all into one post this time.

DF said there are no rules how to do it but important that the makers make it.  He wants books to be picked up.  Always think of the children.  How to show text so people want to pick it up.  He likes the texture and feel of covers.  Must have touching qualities that present the text.  He encourages the designer to put as much as themselves into the cover as possible so it draws you in.

EU said that sometimes readers take to books that authors and publishers think they won't.  One way to put off readers is to put the books in an age range too young.  Children don't like to been seen with books that are inappropriate for them.  Sometimes the book covers can have a bad knock-on effect on authors: example was a book for boys that had a purple cover and so it didn't sell well. 

DF then said that the tone of the story should be on front of book. Choose a good maker.  EU said have artist read the book.  Eu said that pb covers say a lot about the readers and can exclude some.  Eg her own book Johny Swanson. The hb was suitable for all ages, even adults, but the pb was more geared towards teens.  The hb cover reflects the whole book while the pb one is just a scene from the book.

It was mentioned about whitewashing characters on covers.  DF tries not to.  DB did his best with Candy's book.  DF said that most of his work is research.  The process is getting the brief, working on sketches to find the best one.  He says he listens.  Is open to what's coming in.

Spot varnish and embellishments were mentioned, and both David's don't get involved. EU says that it can be waste of time.  Then another major point was mentioned in decisions.  One change is decided by a committee.  Nobody is there in the meeting who thinks it's their baby.  DF said the change is done on research.  EU said not for readers.  And when it goes away for publication, it's like your child going away for a gap year and coming back and you see some good and some bad.

It came to relationships then. EU said the best ones are the ones you have face-to-face.  Their more common than thought.  Keep an eye on your book.  Writers can influence covers.  DF said it's a personal thing.  Find someone that you think recognises what you can do and you can work with, with you and the reader.  It is valuable to show the work and it thrills and amuses them.  Important that they have opinion or way or the other.  Some covers aren't recognised at the same time, and DF says that that time can come.  And - find someone who you can trust and not manipulate.  I agree with that, as I have found a good editor for my romance work, and a good designer for my YA work.  Both of whom I trust and have worked well with.


Heather Kilgour said...

Thanks for the write up. I wish I'd been there David Fickling is always so fabulous.

Julie Day said...

Yes, he is. So enthuastic about publishing and books, he takes you with him.