How a Book Gets Its Cover

Polarity Ensemble Books will release my new novel, GIVE MY REGARDS TO NOWHERE: A DIRECTOR’S TALE, March 22nd. One of the tasks along the way was to create an exciting cover that would give a visual preview of the experience of reading the book. No easy task! We contracted with Laura Boyle, art director for Dundurn Press in Canada, who also designs covers freelance. She and I discussed my book, and she asked me to supply cover images of books whose readers might also like my book.

Some of the early readers of the book manuscript compared its humor to that of author Carl Hiaasen. GIVE MY REGARDS TO NOWHERE also has a driving pace and a main character always battling the odds, like LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY, as well as a sense of whimsy and occasionally outrageous characters, like UNLIKELY ANIMALS or Tom Perrotta’s books. All these books featured whimsical illustrations and bright background colors.

She and I began combing the image databases for a photo or illustration we could license. This was familiar work for me since I’d been involved in selecting images from for theatre posters and book covers in the past.

Laura began mocking up covers using those images.

We went through a number of ideas looking for something that would really convey the feeling of the book. We also really wanted something that would have some visual echo of the popular books whose audiences might enjoy GIVE MY REGARDS TO NOWHERE.

After nine attempts, Laura came back with a cover featuring a comically despondent mime in the spotlight.

The image and the title treatment both seemed exactly right. But black and white seemed all wrong. I asked her to bring color to it, suggesting the blue from the background of UNLIKELY ANIMALS and making the mime’s shirt the red of MRS. FLETCHER.

That really seemed much better.

But we still had a few tweaks to go. Meanwhile I had been soliciting blurbs and sending out copies for reviews. We got a terrific blurb from the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones, so we wanted a bit of that on the front cover. With a couple more passes, we were at the final.

More blurbs and the first advance review came in, and what people wrote about the book was really exciting. Authors and critics were loving the book. Now came the job of editing those blurbs down to the few word phrases that would fit on the back cover. The final result was fantastic, and the book was ready for publication.

The Kindle ebook is available for preorder right now for $2.99. Regularly $6.95. On March 22nd, it will be available in trade paperback, various ebooks, and audiobook .

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