Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Elegance of Simplicity

(WARNING: No, I haven't written this book. Yes, I might.)

The cover is the first page of your book. All authors know that, and they all want a title that will grab attention, hold it, intrigue- grasp the reader so hard she can't let go. They want the cover to somehow convey to the reader every emotion the author feels about her story. And sometimes they mis-understand that the cover should NOT tell the story.

Think about it. If you look at a cover and you quickly spin in your mind how the story will go, where it's set, how the characters will feel and change, then what will you do next? You'll put it down. You're satisfied. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, and maybe in the case of a book cover, a hundred thousand words. And if your cover tells your whole story, the reader's done. No, a cover should be the first page, not the whole thing.

But it's hard. Authors who self-publish in digital form are really vulnerable to this "perfect cover" flaw. Artists, too, or I, at least, keep wanting to crowd in yet one more little element to make the cover so perfect. And the reality is, simplicity can be a far better seller. Simplicity can be incredibly elegant. Or stark. Or simply simple. The way ebook covers are viewed, in long, scrolling lists of small thumbnail images, or on pages crammed with other covers, means  covers have a hard time being the one cover the reader glimpses in a rapid scroll downward. But simple, in its many forms, usually does the job most authors crave. It stops the reader in her fast-paced scrolling tracks. 

I did this cover design for one reason. To demonstrate how compelling just a face can be. I've hinted that the story is medieval. But I could have put in a verbal hint that it was contemporary, and truly her heavily made up face suggests that. But that's a side issue because there is no story. The very simplicity, the stark sharpness of her makeup and the flowing folds of the dark purple scarf (chiffon, I can tell in close-up) meld into the background. If anything is fanciful, it's the lettering. But since the photo compelled me to call her Amethyste, a name I made up just for her, I felt it demanded to come out looking like a carved jewel. There's room for that because it has so little competition.

Not that I will do all covers in this fashion from now on- I'm incapable of doing that. But I think this will remind me, and perhaps other authors, that when it comes to ebook covers, simplicity is the best elegance.

About Me

My photo
I write write write. Sometimes I travel. Then I write some more. And I have a great family who understand that I write write write.