I have had a LOT of comments about the cover of The Flower Seller. This is a good thing because the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and as a debut in a tough commercial market a stand out cover is a must.
So how did it come about? As soon as I made the decision to self publish I knew I wanted to work with Berni Stevens – www.bernistevensdesign.com/ because I had long admired her work. The first hurdle to jump was would a well known designer want to work with an unknown like me? Bless her, she took the gig.
She asked me to prepare a brief for her. My brief ran to three pages. I had never done anything like this before so I had no idea if the brief I wrote was good, bad or indifferent. I’m guessing good because of the end result so I thought I would share with you some of what I wrote.
Firstly, I thanked her for working with me (very important!), then I explained what genre I was writing in – Commercial romantic fiction (equally important as straight away Berni with all her experience knew the type of covers that would work well in this genre). I then included the blurb I had written for the back of the book to give her an idea of the story.
Next I summed up the key themes for the book: love, deceit, betrayal and hope. I then told Berni of my need to build a brand with my full length fiction so that someone seeing one of my covers would know it was an Ellie Holmes. This, again, was important because what works for The Flower Seller has to work for my next full length novel White Lies and the novels that come after.
I then moved on to key imagery and said ‘I want my covers to be eye catching and beautiful with rich colours.’ I love peonies and I decided peonies could be my theme.
I then went on to say what I didn’t like (equally important as most cover designers are not mind readers). As part of this I said that if the cover was to feature a person then I wanted them to be featured from behind.
Then I moved on to the text. Apart from the fact I wanted consistency across my brand when it came to the text I told Berni I didn’t mind what colours or fonts were used. I thought a plainer text for my name worked well and something more flouncy for the book title but ultimately I left these decisions to Berni.
I told Berni that I am a fan of covers that have pictures that beckon you in whether it be into a house or a garden. Subtly, I think it works on another level to also beckon a reader into the book.
Berni being the fab designer she is took all this disparate information and weaved it all together to form something magical. She then sent me her first set of four covers which I have reproduced below.
You can see how each of them took something from the brief I had outlined to her. Covers one and two were my favourites and ultimately I discounted number two because it showed the tools of the trade of a flower seller and whilst that is the title of the book, the main character is Jessie not Owen. So, it had to be number one. Remember that line about wanting a cover that was “eye catching and beautiful with rich colours”? I think I got that! Berni also developed the idea of covers that beckon a reader into them by showing Jessie walking down a path. Subtly, I hope that entices readers to want to walk down the path with Jessie and thus open the book. And of course I got my peonies. Apart from a couple of small changes (spot the differences?), this is the final version.
It was a wonderful experience and Berni was a delight to work with. I am excited about where the next brief will lead us.
Today’s blog is the latest in my Flower Seller Thursday collection of writing related blogs leading up to publication day of my debut novel The Flower Seller on Thursday 2nd June 2016 #FlowerSellerThursday
The Flower Seller Kindle edition is now available to pre-order from Amazon via my website http://goo.gl/0Gv8Jg