Cover roughs are in for ‘Gnaw’! Which one, A or B?

Cover B: Designer says ‘A response to the frenetic energy of protagonist…unravelling and of the tenuous hold she has on her life. The rope has not snapped yet, potential is there to stop the unbearable tension of whether to tame boredom or whether destructive contact will succeed.'

Cover B: Designer says ‘A response to the frenetic energy of protagonist…unraveling and of the tenuous hold she has on her life. The rope has not snapped yet, potential is there to stop the unbearable tension of whether to tame boredom or whether destructive contact will succeed.’

Behold! Cover roughs for upcoming publication of Gnaw. I understand why I reached out to my sister apart from cottage industry mentality. Our ideas of psychological disturbance are very different. As writer is to editor, author is to cover designer (if that makes sense?) Mand as designer is the filter and the foil. You see, in my head psychological disturbance is a gravid thing, fecund, panicky. What I would have come up with as a person of words would have been…more words? Or all of the ideas represented in one busy jam-packed image fest? However, Mand has read the text and come up with something far more compelling, something I could never even conjure up as a cover image because the vacuum is exactly what nature abhors (as they say) and what my protagonist avoids at all costs. The designer has correctly read the subtext of unmanaged existentialism in this piece and has presented something minimalist that unsettles me very much. Take away the noise and what is left —blackness and a last tenuous hold on life. So, cover ‘B’ is the one I favour. I vote for cover ‘B’

I like cover ‘A’ too BUT two things jump out as challenges:

  1. ebooks are viewed cover-wise as thumbnails on retailers’ noisy interfaces. White is not an ideal backdrop in this context and the flesh colour of the typography (which has a particular CMYK breakdown in print control) can’t be controlled on multiple devices with RGB filters. Basically, digital, for better or worse, has smashed through the legacy standards and I need to be optimising here for the digital bookshelf, not the book-shop shelf, or both if possible.
  2. I fear potential readers will be misled that it is thriller or a ‘slasher horror’. They will not thank me for bringing them into the more real and discretely apocalyptic terrain of the mind if that is not what they are suspecting.

 

Cover A:  Designer says: ‘A visual response to the protagonist’s description of the ‘gnaw’, flesh coloured…trickle of blood alluded to throughout (bloodstream, in her blood etc.)'

Cover A: Designer says: ‘A visual response to the protagonist’s description of the ‘gnaw’, flesh coloured…trickle of blood alluded to throughout (bloodstream, in her blood etc.)’

Interesting that the designer singled out blood however. There is blood in this piece, yes, and there are the deeper connotations of what blood means, what you are born with, human condition and DNA but the theme in this story — and blood in this case — is linked very much to the outward manifestation of life at its best and worst… sexuality. The protagonist will draw ‘blood’ incidentally as she tries to control her own passions, but the impact of the invisible ‘institution’ is always nearby in safe routines — work, religion, TV, alcohol and absent love, faulty love and impossible love — situations that will stymie real change. The ‘Gnaw’ is the leaking in of unbridled potency, in her case sexuality, to civilised thinking and is perhaps even a slightly criminal instinct as judged by society. The primal aspect is key here, the suspicion being that human beings are still trying to evolve into something else, but are still animals on some level. Savage instincts are still psychologically resident the way perhaps (physically) we still have tail bones or wisdom teeth, things we don’t need, but have as reminders that we were once something else. It’s how we manage this that defines what kind of human being we are, or where we are personally on the evolutionary line.  As a writer my hunch is that society,  institution and law is a thin skin on the face of more chaotic form. It’s suspension of disbelief most of the time that keeps the world in order or peace.

Sexuality is the protagonist’s poison and saviour, so if the theme of sexuality is prominent too in this work then it’s the only element missing from the cover ‘B’, yet was present (indirectly) in cover ‘A’. But I’m nearly sure that I cannot have blood as the image on the cover, the erotic maybe, but that would be misleading too as it is sacrificed in this case for survival. So, is the imagery of cover ‘B’ enough to imply the content? Does it even need to? I don’t know how you even could impose the other themes on this cover ‘B’ without destroying the integrity of it.

Sundries, need to play around with the title being bigger and up higher perhaps, though I’m aware that this is exactly because all that black space is making me edgy (the intention of the designer?) Either way the designer has nailed the tension here. I am arrested.

For sport, and because I value the opinion people who read this blog, let’s do a poll. Help me out here. Which cover? A or B? Make a comment if you can, this would really help, all this working with no team is really weird for me. Would you enlarge the title on cover B? Place it elsewhere? Do something completely different? What does this image mean to you? Would you buy this ebook based on the cover?

screenshot_for_JSB_2

Fellow writer/blogger Sean McCann has emulated the potential look of this cover in a sea of thumbnails. Food for thought. The title must increase, The first is at 'books' level. When you head down into genre fiction the thumbnail size seems to increase (so I magnified your image up a level, see second screenshot) 'making the case for quality, legible cover art more persuasive?'

Fellow writer/blogger Sean McCann has emulated the potential look of this cover in a sea of thumbnails. Food for thought. The title must increase, possibly author name too? 

Cover story: Sister I need your help

the cottage industry is well and truly kicking in. Enter, old school bartering, family ties and a currency based relationship and skills, not money, and you know what, it’s nice, it’s a lesson learnt, it’s a reminder of how all businesses start and what it takes to make things happen.

The cottage industry is well and truly kicking in. Enter old school bartering, family ties and a currency based relationship and skills. Graphic Designer and sister, Amanda Brady, will now be responsible for the face of ‘Gnaw’.

I never got a job in publishing from knowing someone. I’m no-one’s daughter, niece, pal or whatever, I’m as far from publishing royalty as can be. Thankfully this has never been an issue (that I know of) but as I move through Project Gnaw a paradox is emerging. Self-publishing should emulate the paradigm of the ‘self-made man’ but here I am relenting in the usual stance of not using contacts.

One of the managers in work has a sign in her office saying ‘No Guts No Glory’. It fascinates me. Is it a warning to naysayers who disguise fear in begrudgery? Or is it a mantra to self, that yes, inching out on a ledge IS stomach churning but it ultimately rewarding? Whatever it is, I like the sentiment. Glory doesn’t have to be big. Glory can be a minute recognition in yourself. Glory can be a hurdle jumped that liberates thinking. For me, in this context right now, it’s having the guts to ‘bother’ some key people I believe can impact my self-publishing effort positively. Enter, old school bartering, family ties and a currency based relationship and skills and you know what? It’s nice, it’s a lesson learnt, it’s a reminder of how all businesses start and what it takes to make things happen. I have an award-winning graphic designing sister. Our paths seldom cross in the industry as her emphasis has shifted to jewelry design, but she has the quality, qualifications and critically the blood ties that means our communication has a sibling subtext that no-one else could possibly get.

A warning to naysayers who disguise fear in begrudgary? Or is it a mantra to self, yes, inching out on the ledge is stomach churning but it is rewarding.

A warning to naysayers who disguise fear in begrudgery? Or is it a mantra to self, yes, inching out on a ledge IS stomach churning but ultimately rewarding.

Below is my brief to commission the cover for Gnaw. Bear in mind, I’m not the one who does the cover brief in work. This is done by a team of marketers who’ve studied the audience. I’m sticking my neck out here, risking getting laughed at by peers for what must surely be an unorthodox brief, but remember, No Guts No Glory? And remember too that Project Gnaw is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a narrative in its own right, told right here; the story of a person on one side of the publishing fence trying to see what it all looks like from the other side. Flaws are part of that narrative. Scrutinise if you will, the brief to sister and cover designer Amanda Brady. I leave in for authenticity the errors, the jotted down train of thought, the erratic fluency, sister-to-sister speak. We shared a bunk bed for many a year, in this brief I am talking from the top-bunk to the bottom-bunk, quite naturally.

Flaws are part of the narrative. The brief to sister and cover designer is a little unorthodox. I leave in the erratic fluency of sister-to-sister speak. We shared a bunk bed for many a year, in this brief I am talking from the top-bunk to the bottom-bunk.

Flaws are part of the narrative. The brief to sister and cover designer is a little unorthodox. I leave in the erratic fluency of sister-to-sister speak. We shared a bunk bed for many a year, in this brief I am talking from the top-bunk to the bottom-bunk.