Today is Day 2 of Camille Picott's Sulan, Episode 1: The League Book Tour and we have a special guest post by her. Her post is about the evolution of her very intriguing book cover and how the process of creating it developed....
Evolution of a Book Cover
For me, cover creation is the most exciting and most terrifying part of publishing a book. I know from my own shopping habits that readers do judge books by their covers. I spend a lot of time thinking about my book covers and working with Joey Manfre, an amazing illustrator and graphic artist.
Before Joey begins a cover design, we sit down and discuss concepts. We talk about main characters, setting, target audience, and the overall feel the cover needs to have.
For Sulan, Episode 1: The League, I wanted the cover to target a YA audience with a potential crossover into adult. The story has a strong blend of cyberpunk and fantasy, both of which I wanted to be conveyed in the final piece of art. It was also important for the name SULAN to be prominent. SULAN is the central brand for this book, so it needed to stand out on the cover and catch the eye of readers.
I really love the strong font Joey chose for SULAN. It really stands out and draws the reader’s eye. For a branding image, it’s hard to miss. I also love the way he worked in the cyberpunk theme with the stylized circuit board in the background. The central image of Riska (the winged tiger) also brings in the fantasy element I wanted to convey.
I have to admit, I freaked out just a little when I saw the bright green wing. LOL. But, I also saw what Joey was trying to accomplish. Giving Riska a black wing, which he has in the book, really caused him to disappear into the circuit board background. The green wing helps him visually pop. Once I saw the image of Sulan the character in full cover, I also wasn’t sure she was the right image for the front cover, either. The overall feel was too adolescent with an anime sensibility, which is not the audience I wanted to target.
3rd & Final Draft:
In the end, we decided to move the image of Sulan and Riska to the back cover. For the front, we opted for a simpler, more streamlined image of a blue sea serpent, which maintains the fantasy element that I wanted to include. You can see that Joey tied the serpent to the circuit board theme. If you look at the back cover, you can see he also used the serpent image on the background. Thematically, this really tied the front and back covers together.
Another thing to note is the purple border that surrounds the entire cover. Joey did this for a technical reason. In print-on-demand, there is a certain amount of drift tolerance with every print run; the paper moves on the press as it shoots through. In other words, your graphics will shift. No book cover produced on a POD press will ever be perfectly centered. Joey compensates for this by implementing the border, which helps disguise the tolerance. If the art went all the way to the edge, the shift would be much more obvious.
It is very common for Joey and I to do lots of tweaking as we work toward a final piece of art. (We actually had a lot more drafts, but this guest post would be WAAAAY too long if I included all of them!) We toss ideas back and forth and try different things as we work toward the ideal cover. For us, it’s all part of the creative process, which is very engaging and a lot of fun. It always yields a cover that I love.
Thanks, Cathy, for hosting me at Abnormally Paranormal!
Camille Picott is a mom, wife and writer. She writes and self-publishes speculative fiction with Asian-inspired settings and Asian main characters. She is the author of the Asian inspired middle grade book series, Chinese Heritage Tales, Raggedy Chan and Nine Tail Fox as well as a short story "Warming Demon" and the first in her latest YA dystopian series, Sulan, Episode 1: The League. Visit her website at camillepicott.com.