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Cover Tales

November 6, 2017

All our covers are designed by the wonderful Andrew Cox leading the team at Reactive Graphics.
Our founding titles share the wonderful ‘tree cover’ and that’s how we started out in 2009. Over the years we have switched to using a book specific central images for each title, and therefore the covers are now quite different but still retain a family feel about them. Using the same designer and sticking to the brief ‘a stylised flat image’ is what makes this work.
I like to involve my authors in the cover design process, after all we all have to work with it and we should all have a sense of ownership.
So, I ask authors about which colour scheme they prefer, and to provide some suggestions for the central image. You may well be thinking, but aren’t you potentially creating a lot of problems, tastes can differ so much. Yes and no, and having been a victim of the design by committee approach, in previous careers which often results in a mediocre design, I’m at the same time keen to avoid this.
It’s interesting that many people do not quite know how a design process works. It should be possible to brief a designer with words, in some instances pointing out a picture or painting will also work well. What should be avoided at all cost is briefing by designing, i.e. provide the designer with design cobbled together by playing around with desktop aps. Nothing kills the design process even before it has started.
I really like the challenge of managing this process. Does it always go smoothly? No, of course, it doesn’t, and that makes it so interesting. For some titles and their authors it works perfectly: the author gives a clear brief, the designer gives me a few drafts, the winning design stands out, all are happy and the result is a great cover.
At other times the process is more fraught. The author gives his brief, sees the resulting design, implementing the brief to perfection, and it turns out not to be at all what the author had in mind (a loved one may have been putting in a word). Or maybe it is simply a matter of taste, ‘she’s pouting, that’s not my protagonist’, well, but she is the muse and mistress of not one but two famous painters, so she can’t have been that straitlaced.
This can and will happen, but we can work on it, and by sticking to a quite formal design process, we do actually end up with lovely covers, all the stakeholders take pride in. 
After all this, the cover is useful for marketing, you want a book to stand out. However, it is contents, the words that really matter, and I like to feel that a work had to be written. After all I don’t risk my own money on something I don’t believe in. Now I have just to persuade you the reader to buy and read them. 
So, I give you the  what I call the ‘Artists in Fiction’ covers.