Friday, 17 February 2017

Cover Story

I thought I might spend a short blogpost talking about how a book cover gets designed. It's particularly of interest to me at the moment as I'm just going through the design and discussion stage for the cover of my next book A Murder To Die For.

Perhaps the best way to look at the process - or at least how I engage with it - is to look at one of my previous books. In 2013 Constable Colgan's Connectoscope was published by Unbound in hardback and paperback editions.The book is a collection of fascinating facts all interconnected and gathered into 'Rounds'. Each Round (or chapter) starts with a fact which links to the next and to the next and to the next and so on until the last fact comes full circle and joins up with the first. It means that each chapter is a single circular journey. The fact that I used to be a police officer was latched upon by the publisher who suggested the book title (it had been called Connect-O-Rama) and that I write a new foreword describing how my mind works - finding facts, checking them, collating them, connecting them - and how that had been useful in both my career as a cop and as a writer for the TV show QI.

When discussions began about cover design, I had the idea of depicting the Connectoscope as some kind of machine. By coincidence, the art director also liked the idea. I brought sketches I'd done. And, just for the crack, I knocked up a painting too.




 None of them were quite right for the book of course - just me doodling ideas. But once we had a concept and the talk turned to artists, one name jumped out at us: Tom Gauld. I'd been a big fan of his work for years. I love his cartoons in The Guardian and I had his books Goliath and The Gigantic Robot. Here's some of his work.





There's a delicious business to his work that we loved (you can see more of his book covers here). Plus, he's really good at robots and steampunkish machines. So, off went the brief from the art director:


And what came back was just glorious. 


And, barring a few small tweaks - the green light was given. The final cover was as good as anything I'd dared hope for.



So there you go! It may well be a very different process for some authors but, for me, as someone who has a strong sense for the visual, it was a case of discussion, concession and ideas sharing. And what I got from it was a beautiful, fantastic cover. And I got to thank Tom personally when we went up at Gosh! Comics in London for the launch of his (then) new book You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack.


Now I'm looking forward to the next book and a whole new cover to love.



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