This week, I got to put together a “Mood Board” for my publisher–where I had the chance to communicate all of my ideas and wishes for my book cover. After recovering from the shock that an art department was actually designing the cover of my book (yes, these things still surprise me), I quickly became obsessed with this project.
My undergraduate degree is in art, I long considered myself a painter, and my novel is about the creation of art during the Renaissance. This was right up my alley.
I love a good book cover. I love a cover that gives me a sense of the world and the characters and the tone; and when I put the book down, it’s the cover that tells me good night and greets me when I return. The book cover–not actually created by the author–is an integral part of the book. So I cherished my chance to offer my opinions.
And I have to say:
it was fun to daydream about how my book,
Oil and Marble, might look one day.
But (as always seems to happen whenever I engage with the visual arts), I left the project with a new appreciation for how difficult it is to design a good book cover: condensing an entire novel into a single image; capturing the tone, mood, and genre; selecting the perfect type face; selling the book to an audience who knows nothing about the story; AND creating something aesthetically pleasing. Not to mention everything I still don’t realize goes into book cover decisions.
So I applaud all book art designers: you communicate entire worlds through your art. And it is art. A good book cover can draw me in, excite me, make me feel hope, fear, joy, anticipation.
The next time you–dear reader–pick up a book, take a moment to really look at that cover and appreciate all the work that went into creating it.
Now, for those of you who want to know what went into my mood board, here’s a peek: The first page was a selection of book covers that I admired and felt conveyed the same mood as my book. Here are just a few of the covers I chose:
The second page was a collection of images I felt conveyed information in the book or the mood. Most of the images I chose were pretty obvious, but still fun to narrow down the specifics (these are just a few of the images I picked):
On the final page, I wrote my thoughts. This was my chance to convey everything about my novel that I wanted the art department to know. I won’t go into detail here, but I’ll give you some highlights: the book is about a rivalry between two great artists; it’s set in Florence, Italy during the Renaissance; it’s an entertaining epic with exciting plot twists: fires, floods, wars, and passion; but it also lets the reader step into the intimate spaces where art is created and into the minds and hearts of the artists who create it.