Monday, 15 August 2011

BOOK COVER ART

'Midnight Peacock' by Anni Betts
I came across an interesting article on cover design here by Roz Morris. She says: 'A good cover creates the sizzle that sells your book. It somehow, through a delightful alchemy of imagery and typography, tantalizes the right kind of readers and steers away the ones who won’t like what’s on the pages.'

Paintings often work well on poetry books whereas, nowadays, novels and short fiction mostly carry photographs as cover images. There are lots of headless ladies gracing the fronts of novels just now - who knows what that is all about?

As regards my covers, I've been lucky with the publishers I have been published by: three of them let me choose my own cover art (Arlen House, Salt and Salmon); one gave me a choice of images and I picked the same one they liked (New Island); Templar commissioned a witty image to go with the title poem; and Arlen House always kept me closely involved with cover art choices, one time using an image I had commissioned from a photo, another time using a sexy Pauline Bewick painting.

You form deep attachments with your covers; they are so familiar to you. It must be very hard when you hate the cover of the book you are trying to sell and promote.

'Gráinne Meets Queen Elizabeth, 1593' by Pat Jourdan

 
I own two of the paintings from my book covers and I bought prints of another two. There is something about owning the original art that makes it all tie in beautifully: the writing and the artwork. It makes you feel wrapped up in the whole thing. I'd give my eye teeth to own the Bewick painting that was on the cover of my short story collection To the World of Men, Welcome! (See below.)

Lovers and Feathers by Pauline Bewick
This is one of the paintings I own (below); it was on the cover of DIVAS! - A Sense of Place, an anthology I edited of women's writing from the west of Ireland, from Arlen House.

'Claddagh Basin with Long Walk' by Maura Flannery


I sourced the image for my forthcoming poetry book The Juno Charm but I have yet to see the cover and what Salmon have done with it. The poetry is full of moons, and the peacock is Juno's symbolic bird, so I googled something like 'peacock moon art' and found lots of images. The one I liked the best was Anni Betts's 'Midnight Peacock' - I love its delicacy, its blueness - so it is the image that will be on the cover. I am dying to see it on the actual book and to become as familiar with it as the artwork on all my other books.

22 comments:

Órfhlaith Foyle said...

Hello Nu,
A great piece about cover art. You are right, a writer does form intense attachments to the covers of their books. It's a reflection of your work as well as of its own creator.
Love this one.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Thanks a millo, Miss Foyle! I'm dying to see the cover of your new book. Any day now! Nu x

susanl said...

I had a story published in the New Irish Writing section of the Independent recently and was rather taken aback by the illustration - though well executed, it had what looked like a huge grasping *hand* reaching out to grab the female character standing on the edge of the pier. No such hand entered my story at any stage!

shaunag said...

This is really interesting stuff, Nuala. I love the images of the peacocks. Actually, all of your covers draw you in without even knowing anything of the content! Shauna

Kat Mortensen said...

I love that, "Midnight Peacock". I would happily find a place for that on my walls!

Tania Hershman said...

That peacock is stunning! A lovely blog post, I hadn't thought about all your different covers in that way. If I publish another book, I hope I get to have some input. I love The White Road cover, they got it spot on first time.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Hi Kat, she sells prints through her site. N x

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Susan - congrats on the story in the Indo. The illustrator must've found something in there that you don't see :)

Shauna - thanks! Just as well because as we all know books are judged by their covers. How could they not be?

Tania - ta, missus. I love 'The White Road' cover too - so atmospheric and brooding.

Ev said...

Gorgeous pic Nuala - I'm sure each poem will be as delicate and sublime as each of the peacock's tail feathers. I love my heron, i just hope its dpi (whatever that is) is good enough for the cover designer/

Rachel Fenton said...

All beautiful pieces of art. The cover imagery of a book definitely stays with me and often it's the only detail that prompts me to buy a boook I've heard about after I've forgotten the author or the title. Images are powerful.

Very much looking forward to The Juno Charm.

eimearryan said...

Love the peacock!

The Salt covers are always beautiful. Don't know much about Salmon but I love this cover of Elaine Feeney's 'Where's Katie' - pop art Countess Markievicz!

http://www.borders.com.au/book/wheres-katie/11972866/

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Ah thanks, Ev - I hope the dpi works out, you don't want it looking blurred.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Rachel, I agree re. the power of images. Some covers are just stunning, like the Vintage Classics reprints. They make me drool.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

E - Salmon do good covers, often paintings. V nice indeed.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Books should do what they say on the tin! Didn't realise yours was Salmon,cool, when's it out?

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

November, PG, Peadar.

Jacinta said...

Love the peacock image Nuala and obviously I will also love your book! This insight into the connection you feel with your covers is very interesting and makes me a little sad for writers who can't fully stand behind the covers chosen for them. I've worked on the other side of the cover-art equation—as an editor, and so I've sat in on many meetings where cover decisions are based on marketer's and big-bookstore feedback and opinions. Ugh!
ps. I envy your walls!

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Thanks Jacinta. Thus far (!) I have been with small publishers so you tend to have a say (and learn a lot about the biz in the process).
I would love to be published by a BIG publisher, but still have some say/input :) I really would hate to HATE one of my covers.
Wall envy is good - we have some nice art and not enough walls. Just got given a HUGE painting which I am itching to get framed. Loverly :)

Arlen House said...

Hi Nuala - the Bewick painting was so appropriate in so many ways for your book cover - and I also wish that I could own it (or any Bewick for that matter!) I still love the cover from your first book way back in 2003. And remember the fun we had in Kennys in 2004/5 looking for art for DIVAS! A SENSE OF PLACE? Stef Callaghan's busty women paintings were so tempting. Pat Jourdan should be a famous and wealthy artist - she is brilliant. The PORTRAIT book has such a feel to it also

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Hi Alan, I know, to own a Bewick! She is beyond the beyonds with her talent. And such a lovely person too, strong, sweet and beautiful. I admire her hugely.

I do remember our jaunts to Kennys, such fun. I love Stef's work (and her husband's). She's on the back of DIVAS 2 which was great.

As for Pat - I would love huge success for her, both as artist and writer.

Lady Saera said...

I love the beautiful peacock, Im really taken by that beautiful image.
I still seek something a bit better for my very first book self published.
Such good advice, makes me think, I need some good ones for subsequent books Im working on, better start now I realize;)

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Hi Lady Saera, I wish you the best of luck with finding the right art. Try etsy.com.
Good luck!
Nuala