We are once again in book cover talks, this time for the Rocky Start series. I love book covers, I love talking about book covers, but actually trying to get across what I want for book covers when I’m not actually sure myself? That’s hell.
So I filled out the questionnaire for the new series, and the designer who did the Liz covers send back two mock-ups, one for Rocky Start and one for Very Nice Funerals, and in a rare moment of synchronicity, Bob, Mollie, and I all agreed they were not good for us. So she asked for more info and possibly some existing book covers that we liked. That seems fair. So I went looking.
When did the entire publishing industry decide that large fonts on busy backgrounds were the only possibility for a cover. I hate those covers. First of all, they’re lazy designs. The first one back at the beginning of time was probably striking, but now they’re all just throwing type on jazzy backgrounds and you can’t tell one from the other and you don’t want to because they’re all ugly.
Alternately, you can do cute flat color cartoons of impossibly thin characters with big eyes that look like children’s books except that kids don’t eye each other like that. I hate those covers, too.
As you can imagine, I’m not fun to work with.
But then I found the perfect cover, a brilliant cover, which unfortunately is on somebody else’s book. That designer is amazing.
So Rocky Start seems like a sleepy little town in Tennessee (and North Carolina) but it’s full of ex-spies. And what Max does is look behind the facade and realize he’s in a box of snakes. So the imagery there is just dead on perfect. The landscape not so much, but that’s easy to change. Add in Maggs, and there’s our cover.
Except this isn’t a one book deal, so we’d need to use this idea for at least two more books, which is limiting. But I love it. I love everything about that cover.
Still, that was going to be a heavy lift, so we gave her another example of a cover that might work. We wanted store signs on every cover since the titles are all based on stores in the town. And I found this:
If we swapped out a store sign for the label, and then added miscellaneous things under it (Oddities is a second hand shop, remember?) like the Maltese Falcon, a tea cup, a gun, a wad of cash, Maggs, etc. then it would be new but call back to the Liz covers that had one main image and then smaller details around it.
So that’s where we are now. And I’m feeling better because I could find two examples that weren’t big fonts on awful backgrounds.
Oh, I also liked this one. It’s too busy, but I liked the use of fonts in the title and the offbeat image. Plus, you know, a dog.