I’ve been working this week with the designer I’ve hired to come up with a cover of my first novel. When someone says ‘cover’ we tend to think purely of just the ‘front cover’ but of course a cover is the front cover, back cover and the spine of the book. Each of these things must be considered separately because they each aim to achieve different things. But of course attention must first–and mostly–be paid to the front cover.
My designer’s name is Dan Yeager and his company is Nu-Image Design. I found him on Guru.com and right away he seemed to understand the sort of cover I was after. Of course that’s all very well in theory but it’s not until the first concept comes in do you really know if you’re on the same page, or if you’re on different pages in different books on different shelves in different libraries.
When his email appeared in my inbox on Wednesday with an attachment I held my breath a little bit. Well, perhaps more than a little bit–I’ve been imagining holding a novel with my name on it since I was ten years old. So opened the email and clicked on download. What I saw were these two initial concepts. (You can click on the photos to see a larger view.)
I didn’t care much at all for the first one. I could see where he was going with the flowery/planty/leafy font for GARDEN OF ALLAH but it as waaaay to busy-busy and I really couldn’t imagine why anyone would want or need to use a font like that. Ever. BLEECH! But…the second one, now that I liked!
It had that faded glamour / sepia / old Hollywood/ 1920s feel about it. Yes! Exactly what I wanted! Weeeeelllll…close.
Firstly it was a little dark. My story isn’t a twisted tale showing the sordid underbelly of Hollywood life. If you want that sort of book, go read “L.A. Confidential” by James Ellroy…which I have…and I loved…but it’s not what I’ve written. So while the design captured the feel of old Hollywood, I wanted it to be a little lighter. Plus the building he used didn’t feel “old hotel” enough.
So I went back to Dan and said we’re on the right track but that I wanted to include two things.
My friend, Bryan, here in Southern California and my brother, Blair, in Australia both brought up the subject of including the word “Allah” in the title lest it conjure thoughts of Muslim terrorists and thereby turn off potential readers who have never heard of the Garden of Allah hotel (which I have to assume they haven’t). So I added “…a story of Hollywood” to the title–more of a subtitle, really–so that potential readers could tell at a glance that my book isn’t set among machine-gun-toting, infidel-hating jihadists.
Dan also mentioned recreating the Garden of Allah sign that stood out the front of the hotel’s main entrance on Sunset Blvd. I thought that sounded like a great idea because this is the first book of a series and I wanted some sort of logo for it. So I went back to Dan and asked him to makes those adjustments, and to lighten it up a bit. And this is what came back:
So now I’m thinking…I much prefer the font on the first one but I really like the logo on the second. But in the first one I now have the word “Hollywood” appearing twice AND together. OVERKILL! And I’m still concerned about the Allah = terrorists = bad = won’t buy this book thing. So then I think What if I change the title of the book? An alternate title has been bouncing around my mind lately: THE GARDEN ON SUNSET. What if I changed it to that title? It would take care of those pesky terrorists, I’d still have ‘the Garden of Allah’ in the logo which I could move to the spine and back cover and it’s also there on the front in the line across the top: Book one in ‘The Garden of Allah’ series. Plus I’d still have the image of the Hollywoodland sign to clue readers into this being a Hollywood story of old. (The Hollywood sign originally read ‘Hollywoodland’ as it was a publicity stunt/billboard advertising a new housing estate called Hollywoodland which featured houses being built in the Hollywood Hills, a new concept back in 1923.) Also, it would eliminate any confusion with the two other books listed on Amazon.com with the title The Garden of Allah. Oh, and for god’s sake, make my name a little bit bigger. I’ve been waiting to hold a book with my name on it for 39 goddamned years so sue me if I want to see my name in a larger-than-teeny font.
And this was the result:
TA-DA! The cover of my new(-ly rechristened) novel “The Garden on Sunset.” I’m keen to get your reaction. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Do you whatever it? Let me know what you think.