Imagine holding Happy Landings: The Life Behind Emilie Loring’s Stories in your hands for the first time. What is it like?
Are you holding a hard-cover book or a paperback? What’s on the cover?
It’s time to design the cover of Emilie Loring’s biography. I want it to have just the right appearance when it goes on sale to the public.
But I wrote the book; I already know what’s inside. I need a cover that entices people who have never seen the book to pick it up and want to read it. That’s where you come in.
Let’s imagine this book cover together. Imagine a design that will call to a reader from across a crowded bookstore or internet page: “A fascinating woman and author is inside this book. Come and meet her!”
Imagine a cover that will call to longtime Emilie Loring readers, “Here she is! It’s your chance to meet her in person and learn things you never even imagined about her and her books.”
Let’s look together at two of the biographies on my shelves.
Stan Musial’s name on this cover is identification enough for baseball fans, and to drive home the point, there’s a photo of him, swinging the bat. This is an all-American story about a hero of America’s past-time: Stan Musial: An American Life. The photo and lettering are red, white and blue, and Musial’s name is baseball-white on top of St. Louis Cardinals red.
The cover sends a clear message, and it also makes us wonder. He’s just hit the ball; how far did it go? What are his thoughts and memories as he looks into the distance?
The biographer’s name is smaller, out of the way, in the black and brown of the infield. George Vecsey is the author, but the story is Stan Musial’s.
Here’s another cover:
Which did you see first–“Laura Ingalls Wilder” (because we read top-to-bottom and left-to-right) or “Pioneer Girl” (because it is both larger and darker)? Both are prominent by design, and we see why that’s important in the descriptor: “The Annotated Autobiography.” Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her autobiography, Pioneer Girl, which has now been annotated and edited by Pamela Smith Hill.
Few of us could identify Laura Ingalls Wilder in a photograph, but we remember the appearance of the Little House books. The cover of Prairie Girl is distinct, but its watercolor blues and greens and prairie grasses remind us of those childhood books. Young Laura holds paper and pen and looks off into the distance of memory, from which she wrote both her best-selling books and this autobiography.
Did you wonder why this book is nearly square? That is to allow for Pamela Smith Hill’s annotations to accompany Wilder’s autobiographical text. You can see that the autobiography, by itself, would fit into the more traditional, rectangular shape.
Would we want the cover of Happy Landings to evoke memories of Emilie Loring’s books?
All have a color artwork, and most fill the cover. The titles are on the top third, and Emilie’s name varies in size and placement. There is no consistent font to recognize as “an Emilie Loring font,” and the images don’t necessarily illustrate the title or theme.
Emilie Loring was more than her writing career. Would we like a cover that was more thematic, historical, or personal?
I wanted to do a multiple-choice survey, but the server for that is down today, so let’s do it the old-fashioned way: Please jot your ideas below, in the Comments section, or on our Facebook page.
What would you choose for:
The clear message/theme of the cover:
The time period evoked
Cover image (artwork, photograph, collage, etc. Any that you love already?)
Overall color scheme (2-3 main colors)
Title and subtitle placement
Font style and color
I actually love design, and it’s been fun to scribble my ideas on scraps of paper. If you want to sketch something, even crazily on the back of an envelope, snap a quick photo of it, and send it to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t do more than what you have fun with, but I’m sincere in wanting to hear from you. Happy Landings will be on our shelves a long time; let’s make it absolutely stunning!