Cover Story

Hey all. Gerry Boyle here. Trying to get some work done in between the Red Sox (Oh, yeah!), and Halloween. And the work I’ve been doing is about covers. Namely potential e-book covers for the new McMorrow novel (ONCE BURNED), the new Irish crime novel, DEAD SAMARITAN, and the backlist, for e-books and perhaps more.

So I’m thinking fonts and typefaces and images and branding and identity, and how an e-book cover needs to accomplish different things from the print version, including working as a thumbnail on Amazon. All of this is much changed since I started in this business and the publisher sent me a couple of cover concepts and I said, “I love it,” or “That’s weird.” But it didn’t matter really because I figured I wrote the books and they did the rest.

The result was I had some good covers (the original North Country Press DEADLINE and most of the Berkley paperbacks) and some really bad ones (weird hand LIFELINE Putnam hardcover). With the latter, readers would write and say, Liked your book but what are the glowing things on the hand? Jelly beans?  I’d say, hell if I know.

Well, I know a lot more now than I did then, including the fact that I may not be a designer but I know what I like. So some I love and some I think need more work but what strikes me over is how interesting it is when someone else picks images to represent what had previously only existed in the writer’s head.

As writers we can picture the world we’ve created. It exists in our imaginations and in our words and it’s so clear, so real we can taste it. We paint it in words and then we hand those words over to a designer, who turns it into an image. Is it the image I pictured when I was writing? Or is it the world that was conjured up when the designer read my story?

But enough of the design theory. Here’s a slideshow on my Facebook page. Check it out. Like the page. Like some of the covers. And consider how interesting and mysterious it is, this process of turning words into images. Can what exists in our heads really be duplicated by what exists in someone else’s? If two people read the same book, do they imagine two slightly different places, characters? If so, why?

Something to contemplate as you open that bedtime story.








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2 Responses to Cover Story

  1. John Clark says:

    The slideshow is amazing. Such variety for the same title. One has to wonder how much the image sets up the reader’s idea of what the book will be.

  2. MCWriTers says:

    Gerry, I am told that the big problem with e-book is covers is that they have to look good in a thumbnail. We’re not thinking what will make them jump off a bookstore shelf. I love the covers that I had designed for trade papers of my Joe Burgess series, but my e-book publisher doesn’t think they’ll sell.

    So, a quandary for us. Readers would like the same cover, so they can tell if they’ve read the book, and we’re doing multiple covers because the publisher owns the cover they designed and we’re going out into many markets.

    A Facebook focus group is a good thing. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.


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