Saturday, June 25, 2011
Case History: The Treasures of Carmelidrium
When author N.R. Williams asked me to design the cover of her fantasy novel, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, the first thing we talked about was the cover image. This is normal; it's what most people think of when they think of book cover design. We talked about Williams' book, about other books that she thought might be attracting the readers she wanted to reach, and about the challenge of adapting one of the fantasy "uniforms"--rich colors, an essentially medieval environment, and a magical feel--to her book. Adding to the challenge was the fact that Williams plans for this to be the first in a series, which meant the cover needed to be something that could be used to create a series identity by modifying key elements without losing the overall look.
Ultimately, we decided to avoid the rich, elaborate, and highly-figured covers common to many fantasy books for the very good reason that by following that formula too closely we ran the risk of disappearing into the crowd. Instead, we opted to use a different "uniform"-- the simple, elegant, "stripped-down" cover design that the "Twilight" series used so successfully, but to incorporate some of the textures from Williams' world as well as a modern flute.
Why the flute? Because her protagonist, Missy, is a concert flautist, a fact which becomes crucial in the development of Williams' story. I don't want to give everything away, but trust me on this--the flute on the cover conveys something central about the book.
Likewise, font choices were driven by the twin needs to reflect something about the book style and content, and to keep the title clearly visible and easily identifiable from browsing distance of 6-8 feet. We went with a font that's been around since the days of woodcuts for the headline, and chose a "signature" font for Williams' author line. By setting the title in a large, traditional, easy-to-read font near the top of the book we kept the ranking clear--title first, then name.
This resulted in an elegant cover that will stand out nicely on the fantasy shelves without looking out of place, and will serve as a basis for future books in the series.
Sherry Wachter has been designing and illustrating all sorts of things--including books--for nearly fifteen years. She has written, designed, illustrated, and self-published two novels--one of which won the 2009 Best of the Best E-books Award--and several picture books. To learn more about book design, ask her about designing your book cover, or to see her work visit her online at Magic Dog Press.