‘Ignoring Gravity’: what’s going on

It is two weeks since I got the news that Ignoring Gravity was going to be part of the new publishing imprint Britain’s Next Bestseller. The launch is on March 28, 2014 so the countdown has started!

I now have provisional front covers, which I am very excited about – I wrote a fairly tight brief and my graphic designer has done a great job. Out of the eight dummies he produced, I immediately discarded two.  I stuck the remaining six on the wall, so I see them every time I walk upstairs, and have already discarded another three. It is vital to get this right, as everything else seems to flow from the look of the cover.

In order to write the brief,  I visited my local bookshop and looked at cover design: the new titles on displayed on tables by the door, and older titles in the bookcases. I didn’t worry about the title at this point, I was looking for covers that caught my eye – title, use of colour, image, typography.

Then I went home, stood in front of my bookshelves and pulled out book after book. The subsequent pile yielded some covers I really liked, some I hated, and others that provoked no emotion in me. I sorted them into groups by style.

Monochrome/sepia photographs of a face: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna, and Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson. This was a very voguish cover style for a while, but I think it looks tired now. Lost Girl & Before I Go to Sleep 2-3-14Chirpy, brightly-coloured, pastel-coloured illustrations, flowery and feminine: Molly’s Millions by Victoria Connelly, and Why do we have to live with Men? by Bernadette Strachan. This just doesn’t feel like the right style for Ignoring Gravity: too bouncy, too perky. Molly's Millions & Why do We Have to Live With Men 2-3-14Illustration: Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell, Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch and The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse. Three very different examples. The first is rather old now, from 1999; Lisa Jewell’s covers have grown-up as her writing has moved beyond chick-lit. The House We Grew Up In, published last year, has a rather lovely photograph of a young woman on its front cover. I like both the other two book covers but original illustration is beyond my budget at this stage. Ralph's Party, Jamrach's M & The Winter Ghosts 2-3-14Montage illustration: I looked at two covers: Joan Brady’s The Theory of War, and Kate Atkinson’s debut, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Both books are favourites of mine, their age doesn’t matter. Both books won the Whitbread Prize, Brady’s in 1993 and Atkinson’s in 1995. Again, original illustration is expensive. Sigh.Theory of War & Behind the Scenes at the M 2-3-14Photographic: Douglas Kennedy’s The Job, Tracy Chevalier’s Falling Angels, and Susan Hill’s The Vows of Silence. My favourite of the three is Falling Angels because the cover captures the tone of the book so well. Not an easy thing to do. The Susan Hill cover works well in the same way: an image of a house at night, with gravestones in the foreground: just right for a Simon Serrailler book. I’m not sure yet what single photograph would sum up the mood of Ignoring GravityThe Vows of Silence, Fallen Angels & The Job 2-3-14So, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

What do you think the cover of Ignoring Gravity should be like? Is there a book cover out there which you think is the right style? Please let me know what you think, your cover likes and dislikes.

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  1. This is a really interesting post Sandra – I haven’t got to a stage of being able to consider a cover for my book, but I think you’re approaching it in a very good way. Personally, I like something a little mysterious and atmospheric – I agree the photos of the faces look old-fashioned and the chirpy illustrations aren’t ‘grown up’ enough for Ignoring Gravity. I don’t like montages myself. Illustration wise, I’ve just bought ‘Orkney’ by Amy Sackville and love that cover. But I think the right photo could work very well – maybe a photo of an old, mysterious looking diary?

    • Thx Andrea. There are so many options, I feel a bit like a child in an ice-cream shop. In the end I decided on a theme, and am in the process of getting feedback from family and friends. I guess there is no right or wrong answer, just personal taste and commercially what will sell. At some point I’ll write another post about how the cover design was done. SD

  2. I like the montages – but I wouldn’t pick them because of that 😀 I’m going to do a book review on Thursday (she says) or Friday (more like) so I’ll be including pix of good and bad covers. One includes an eye (yuk), and the good one a subtle montage. Less is more if you can find the right less. But I need to backread to suggest anything. And I’m pushed for time right now 🙁

    Goldfinger is a good one. I think you saw it when you looked at my book review pages? And the header I used was good too, I thought. I actually just go for authors though. But if it’s a whimsical cover, I might put it back, eg the Chirpy ones you showed.

    • It’s interesting, isn’t it? The more I looked, the more subtlety I noticed that I’m not sure I picked up when I bought the books. Thanks for your thoughts. SD

  3. My choice: photographic
    I can imagine a young woman looking out of a window, eyeing an old house in the distance. The old house is in a kind of mist – like a remnant of the past.