Posts Tagged ‘designing a book cover’

I wonder if you’ve ever tried to describe a scene you have imagined but found your audience wasn’t quite catching the vision. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? It’s so clear in your own mind – surely what you mean is obvious? Yet more often than not, I find it’s my fault rather than anyone else’s when this happens. Usually, I have not taken the time to stand in the other person’s shoes or to think how best to convey that picture in my head to them.

I experienced this again recently in trying to explain to a designer what I wanted the cover of my next novel to look like. It is entitled The Inheritance and isn’t due out until next year but needs to be featured in a catalogue soon. Since the book is set largely in the English countryside, I have always pictured an old, English manor house on the cover, with a wide, curved driveway leading up to the main door. I also imagined lots of trees and green lawn as well, with gardens sloping down to a nearby lake. And over the stream leading to the lake, there would be an old, stone bridge, since one of these is featured in the story on key occasions.

Yet when the poor designer came up with his version of the cover, I felt something was lacking. There was the manor house and the driveway, just as I had asked for – but somehow it all seemed a little soulless and unromantic. I could not envisage my characters living and breathing, loving and hating in that place, as they do in the book. So back it went to the designer, along with a little more information, for him to have another go at getting inside my head.

Perhaps you have experienced this issue yourself at home, as my husband and I do on occasions. Sometimes one or the other of us may be so involved in what we are working on or thinking about that we blurt out a comment about it all, forgetting the other person is on a different tack altogether. At such times, I have been known to let out an exasperated sigh, as my husband stares blankly at me and asks for some clue as to what I’m talking about! And all the while, I’m thinking to myself, ‘He must know! It’s so obvious what I mean!’

So it’s a huge relief to me when I can turn my attention to God and rest in that all-knowing, all-powerful presence once again. I don’t have to explain myself to God. In fact, I don’t have to explain anything to God. God knows all my thoughts even before I myself am consciously aware of them, as Psalm 139 reminds us:

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

God has no trouble understanding those 3D images and concepts in my head, as well as all my motives, dreams aspirations and intentions. In fact, God is right there with me in every part of my life, intimately involved and eternally watching over me. And that’s something I hope I will treasure forever and never take for granted.

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I wonder how important the cover is to you when choosing a book. If the book is by one of your favourite authors, perhaps you go ahead and buy it anyway, irrespective of the cover. Or perhaps if the title sounds interesting, that’s all you will notice. Or maybe someone you trust has recommended you buy the book – in which case the cover is pretty irrelevant yet again.

Recently, I played a part in creating the cover of my first work of non-fiction entitled Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Now I had certain ideas I felt might work to convey the main concept of the book. I even found possible images on the net that I thought might be suitable. And my publisher listened and took these into account. But there was also quite a bit of ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ involved, as we asked ourselves lots of questions and negotiated our way towards an agreement. Does the cover give a clear sense of the content of the book? Will the image we have chosen appeal to all ages or does it look too old-fashioned? Is it eye-catching enough? Does the main colour of the cover contrast enough with my other books? Is the title in the correct place on the cover? Does it stand out enough? Have we used the best font for this? Should there be an endorsement on the cover as well as a sub-title?

All these decisions – just over the cover! Yet what about the contents? What if the book doesn’t live up to that cover? How many times have you bought a book and started reading, only to find it does not capture your interest and leaves you feeling somewhat disappointed and disgruntled?

You know, in the midst of this whole process of deciding on my latest book cover, it occurred to me to wonder if I go through the same process at times in my own life. I might be somewhere where I am not already known, perhaps speaking in a strange place – so what ‘cover’ will I choose? What image should I present? How relaxed and ‘myself’ can I afford to be in this environment? But even broader than that, what about my life in general? Is there an image I like to present to those around me that does not line up with what’s actually happening in my heart and soul and mind? How authentic is my life really? How authentic is my relationship with God? Does it stack up when that cover is opened and people turn the pages?

It seems to me Jesus never pretended and that he easily saw through the hypocrisy and pretence in others as well. In fact, it seems some of the strongest words he spoke were to the Pharisees when he called them to account for their attempts to appear so holy. In Luke 11:39-40, after a Pharisee had judged him for not washing before a meal, he says:

Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?

It’s no use trying to pretend to God, he was reminding those present. God sees beyond that outward image and right into our hearts. And I’m glad of that. I want what I appear to be on the outside to match what’s on the inside, don’t you? I want people to open that ‘cover’ and not be disappointed or put off God as a result of who I really am and how I live my life each day.

How about you? Is that your desire, too?

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