To celebrate the launch of new ‘bookshop’ editions of my novels (coming soon), I decided that it was time for a makeover. I Stopped Time has always been my best-selling novel, but I went from the decision to publish to publication within the space of ten days. (Not something I would recommend to anyone – I can hardly believe that I was so impatient.)
In the past, I have always been heavily involved in the design process, sourcing the images, coming up with the concept, and then employing graphic designer Andrew Candy to execute it. For I Stopped Time and These Fragile Things (a Christmas Day double release), we used single images, which I felt reflected the themes of the novels. In both cases, these were sourced from Dreamstime stock photo library.
The time-piece and the faded sepia photographs were there. It’s difficult to see, but one of the photographs actually has a motorbike on it, and the novel also has a racing theme. Thankfully, before long, it earned a couple of gold badges, which gave the design a much-needed lift. It’s just that it was still… well, a bit brown, for want of a better word.
Also, a word of caution. Use a single image and you run the risk of someone else showing up at the party wearing the same dress, as happened here.
Look familiar? Click here to check.
There’s no ignoring the fact. Book cover design has moved on considerably since 2012. With the majority of sales now coming from e-books, design principles demand that covers work even harder. They must make an impact in thumbnail sizes. As you’ll see from the original cover image, some of the text – including my name – is completely lost.
For the re-design, I decided on a totally new approach. l took a step back from the process and used the services of Jessica Bell, who I recently collaborated with on the multi-author box-set, Outside the Box: Women Writing Women. I have to be honest with you, this wasn’t an easy decision. It felt as if I was cheating on my long-term partner.
I was soon to discover that there are distinct advantages in working with a cover designer who is also an author. Jessica Bell asked me to provide five short excerpts which reflected the themes of the novel. Other than the fact that I wanted the cover to sit comfortably within my existing brand-image, I handed complete creative control over to her. This didn’t mean that I wasn’t involved in the process – in fact, the reverse was true. At each stage, I was given choices. For example, when I suggested that more contrast was required in terms of colour, rather than simply work with what we had, I was given four different options.
I was a little concerned how the process would work without the face-to-face contact that I was used to, but dealing by email on a project of this nature wasn’t a problem. Jessica seemed to instinctively know when I needed to be left alone to make a decision and when I needed a little push. In fact, the whole process felt incredibly easy.
It’s not only the cover of I Stopped Time that has changed. Like all of my novels, it is sporting a fresh new interior. I don’t know about you, but my eyesight isn’t what it used to be and working on the computer all day leaves me feeling jaded. I have always preferred tree books to e-books, which is why it is important to me to issue new editions. (You will have the advantage of the new interiors whether you order on-line or buy in a bookshop.) Working with JD Smith, I have chosen a new rounder font. I find it far easier on the eye and I hope you’re also going to appreciate the difference.