Thursday, August 17, 2006

Candy Cover, Round I

In an earlier post, I described the evolution of the cover design used for the Bleak House Books edition of my first novel, The Immortal Game. The short version of that story is Bleak House decided to use a photographic "contact sheet" theme for all the books in the series, and the one for Game blended photos of chess pieces with other, sexier images.

But the decision to use the contact sheet approach came out of the (more involved) evolution of the cover design of my second Bleak House book, Candy from Strangers, which actually started before Immortal. I'm going to use the next few posts to trace the evolution, providing copies of the concept covers that Bleak House let me review and sharing my original feedback and some of my counter suggestions.

I should make clear up front, however, that the ultimate decision regarding a cover rests with the publisher. Bleak House was kind enough to review some of the options with me, but I was not privy to the internal discussions about them, nor do I really know how much my feedback influenced the directions given to the designer. What I can say is that I'm very happy with the outcome and it's clear to me that Bleak House places a great deal of emphasis on good cover design and is willing to look at a variety of designs before making a decision--all of which takes time and money.

Two Young Women and a Chair

In the first round of design, I received seven concept covers from Bleak House to review. Numbers 1-4 were all based on a photo of two young women engaged in a little, ahem, bondage and discipline. Some of the less obvious design choices echoing themes in the book are worth pointing out. A computer cursor is shown in several of them, picking up on the theme of the Internet and web sites. The S in strangers is done as a dollar sign in the first, tying in with the idea that the characters in the book use their web site to solicit gifts and cash from their visitors. Finally the red and blue in the first is representative of the "heaven and hell theme" of the characters' web site.

Legs in High-Heeled Shoes

Number 5 is a tight shot of the legs of the woman standing on the ground from the earlier covers. It, too, has the heaven and hell color scheme, as well as the $ for the S in strangers. As I'll discuss in my next post, this was my favorite of the bunch.

Computer Abstract

Number 6 is an abstract with symbols that looked like they might be related to high tech or computers, again tying in with the Internet theme.

Three-faced Man

Although I never discussed it with anyone at Bleak House, I assume the idea behind number 7 was to portray one of the sleazy "strangers" who visited the main characters' web site.


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