My Book Cover, My Self


Book covers should be the most enjoyable part of the process for an author whose manuscript is on its way to publication. Should be. I say this because most of us don’t have access to Chip Kidd., designer of Cormac McCarthy book covers among hundreds of others.

“Chip!” I want to say. “Over here! Chip in, why don’t you? My book-soon-to-be needs a cool cover, and while I have a million equally cool ideas, I don’t have the know-how. The resources. The cachet and style. That’s where you come in, Chip. Chip? Chip? Are you there…?”

A few years ago, in an effort to improve my classroom library’s nonfiction shelf (anemic at the time), I bought Kidd’s YA book, Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design. It’s a neat trick, actually, learning something that should be simple, but isn’t, by purchasing a young adult primer on the matter. Chip spells it out, and I nod my head.

Thus it is that I picked up ideas on form, typography, content, and concept. I learned that I prefer horizontal tricks to vertical, dark covers to light, image cropping to repetition and patterns, simplicity to complexity, and cool colors to warm.

Does that say as much about me as Myers and Briggs? My Book Cover, My Self. Sounds like a sound personality test, in its way.

It’s true, after all, that we are suckers for beautiful covers–books we like to be seen carrying around. It’s also true that we are loath to carry around an ugly book. So much for “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We can and we will and we do. It’s a free country, after all, so there.

Bottom line: As the due date for final decisions approaches, we want our book covers to be cool more than anything in the world. A cover people will be proud to tote about, even if they don’t read it (thisĀ is poetry, after all, and only fellow poets read poetry, and not many of them can afford poetry books).

Lucky for me, I have time yet. A few months to play with the possibilities. For now, all I can tell you is that it will be a dark horizontal simply cropped cover in cool colors.

What could be YA-simpler?

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