Choosing a cover

27 January 2011

by Sam Humphreys

When we published Room from hardback into paperback, we didn't want to make any alterations to this wonderful book. However, one of the things we did change for the paperback was the cover artwork.

Jackets, and covers, are a big deal to publishers. We spend hours agonizing over details that other people might not even notice; arguing over what a certain typeface 'says' about a book; whether the image is exactly right; if we should be going for an illustrative or a photographic approach; what words (beyond book title and author name) we want on the cover; whether X will put people off, or if Y will encourage a certain kind of reader to pick up the book. We cite comparative authors/books and talk about shoutlines and positioning and demographics...

We do it once, of course, for the hardback, and then all over again for the paperback. The first question we ask ourselves, in that instance, of course, is how similar to - or different from - the hardback do we want it to be?

In the case of Room, we had what we thought was an iconic hardback jacket, and so we wanted to keep some elements of that for the paperback too. For that reason, this one was quickly discounted - along with at least twenty other completely 'different' covers.

At the same time, though, we knew we didn't want something too similar to the hardback. So that ruled out this one.

For me, Room has always been a book about a mother's love for her son, and so we decided that we should try to add a human element to the cover - keeping the house in the foreground, and trying a woman and child in the background. So, we commissioned a photographer, and made sure she had a little wooden house to put in the picture. (Not the same model as we'd used for the hardback, as that had gone astray - but luckily it was easy enough to track down another house and draw another little skylight on the roof...although the eagle-eyed among you may notice that the skylight isn't identical...)

That gave us the three below - but we felt there was too much going on with two figures and the house and the type.

That gave us these two - but we didn't think they were quite warm enough, somehow.

In the end, we decided on something very similar to the hardback. We also decided to keep the blue from that cover.

Having got the artwork pretty much sorted, we then spent ages deliberating over which quote to put on the front. As you can see, we've gone with a quote from the Scotsman, rather than Audrey Niffenegger's quote, which we used for the hardback, and also on many of our rough paperback covers.

Finally, though, we got there. And, luckily for us, Emma Donoghue approved it - otherwise it would have been back to the drawing board...

 

Which one is your favourite? Did we make the right choice? Let us know by leaving a comment.

 

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