Never judge a book by its cover. Were you given this tidbit of advice as a kid? Me, too. It’s true in life but not in the print world. A cover is what draws people in to a book, more than not. Even when it comes to packaging at the grocery store, I know better than to be “green-washed” but, like a crow attracted to sparkly things, or a bug to light, I am drawn to good design, stunning use of color and imagery that pulls at me.
I recently dove into my studio with a Spring cleaning, downsizing frenzy. I found some things that made me smile, a bunch of stuff to throw away and some things to ponder. Here is a progression of book cover sketches showing how we arrived at the final concept. I say, “we” because it really is a team of people that put a book together.
In this first sketch, I placed myself on a misty Payne’s Grey kind of waterfront dock chopping off the heads of a pile of fresh salmon. Very Alaskan. Note the fish hook for the letter “C.”
Then I simplified the sketch a bit, getting rid of the pier and the dock, put Cinderella on the beach, made the town recede into the landscape and beefed up the font.
Then applied colored pencil accenting the rubber gloves and the word Alaska. Looking back I can imagine how a children’s book editor would be horrified at the dangerous knife wielding woman and the piercing hook even with the nice glinting shine creating the dot on the “I.” Too Alaskan!
While editing the text, I discovered that I really wanted my Alaskan Cinderella to be a princess of salmon, so opted for a girly princess look.
Then I tried the beautiful carousel.
Back in fishing coveralls and boots.
I liked this layout, but as an Alaskan princess, it seemed just right for her to wear a sparkly dress and XtraTufs!
We had finally arrived at the right cover. Here it is finished – in watercolor. Remembering that Paynes Grey feeling I started with, the misty Southeast Alaska feel, I added a touch of it to all of the colors in my palette for the book.
Book design and font by Stewart A. Williams with Sasquatch Books.
Read these great articles on book cover design: