Julie has worked with SparkPress since 2012. Over the course of designing dozens of successful fiction, non-fiction, and YA book covers, we realized something. Authors need to have a better understanding of not only the book design process, but the industry-driven perspective that goes into it. Throughout her Ask the Designer column, she shares her perspective on and experience with successful cover design. Here’s what she has to say about her love affair with finding visuals for fictional worlds, and balancing the literal translations of the storyline with more nuanced portrayals.
I work on many novels where the author has created a fictional world I will never experience in my own life. Thankfully the process of designing a cover that accurately conveys these imagined worlds allows me to travel along with the author. The challenge is to make the world visible to the reader in just a glance and along the way as a designer, I do find myself getting quite attached to the topics and images that I feel really capture the story.
Here are a few recent designs where I fell just a bit in love with how the designs evolved through the collaborative process of working with our publisher and our authors to find visuals of fictional worlds. It’s important to keep in mind that this collaborative process is unique to our model, and in traditional publishing, the author usually has little to no involvement in cover art.
Satisfaction is a story about two women who go on a self-healing road trip as fans of The Rolling Stones. I hope I’m not dating myself too much by saying that as a teenager growing up in New York City I was a Rolling Stones superfan. I played their albums obsessively (to my parents’ chagrin), and knew all the songs by heart. While the young feminist in me chafed at Mick Jagger’s in-your-face macho bravado, I secretly loved the band’s bad-boy reputation. And there’s no Stones song more instantly recognizable than the urgent, genius guitar riff of “Satisfaction.” Then Mick launches into his breathless When I’m driving in my car, and a man comes on the radio…rant that has to be one of the most savage and still-true critiques of our buy-this-buy-that culture. But for all my fandom, I’ve only seen them live once, at Madison Square Garden (I’m not going to tell you the year). For me, The Stones http://www.honeytraveler.com/buy-symbicort/ sound best in a car, loud, on the road to anywhere.
So, the premise of this novel immediately drew me in. While designing this cover, I wanted a great “on the road” image to match the storyline—not only of the two girls’ road trip, but the proverbial “trip” they each must embark on, mentally and emotionally, which connects this music and the choices they must make to move forward in life. I also took some research time online hunting for Stones memorabilia, even buying myself an old concert ticket (Dallas Cotton Bowl, 1981!) and a 45 rpm single of the title song—that c