Resources for Writers
Cover Love: Creating Irresistible Covers by Sam Blake
There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your book cover art for the first time. When I was sent the original images for Little Bones, a point that it had taken a long time to arrive at (see my post here on getting the title right), I felt they absolutely encapsulated Cat Connolly and gave a strong sense of Dublin. The designer had come up with about seven different images of piers and lighthouses bringing the sea into all of them, and he’d used several different font colours to give a broad choice.
The Cat Connolly covers all feature parts of Dublin that relate to Cat and are moody and atmospheric, promising, we all hope, a good read. The phrase ‘judging a book by its cover’ is SO true – getting the cover right is essential. And it needs to work at many levels – in a black and white thumbnail for people who are buying on Kindle, on your phone in miniature, but it also has to jump off the shelf in a bookshop. The author’s name needs to be as big as it can be, and clear to the reader, so it catches their eye. A confident cover speaks volumes about a confident story and as an author you have a contract with your reader to deliver a confident story – the best that you can possibly do.
Authors Monica McInerney and Mari Hannah who both have many bestselling books to their name have recently had some of their covers updated and rebranded to match, and they look wonderful. You can clearly see how important genre is in the cover art in these examples – the covers are designed to attract readers who have read and enjoyed similar books.
Authors are often asked how much say they have in their cover art – the answer is that a publisher doesn’t usually want to upset their author, so they will take their thoughts into consideration. But, at the end of the day, an author needs to understand that cover designers really do know what they are doing, they are sensitive to trends and have a much better idea of what sells than you do, so you have to trust them.
I’ve written a series of Cat Connolly books, and it’s important that the covers all work together so readers can recognise them, but equally they need to stand out as individual stories, and I think they do. No Turning Back is set in the South County Dublin village of Dalkey but also in Trinity College in Dublin, so we have moved away from the sea to a scene that many will recognise.
On every one of the Cat Connolly covers there’s a seagull flying high around the title – he features in In Deep Water leading Cat Connolly to a big clue in the hunt for her missing best friend Sarah Jane. In No Turning Back the seagulls are calling and swooping over Lauren’s body as Cat comes to the cliff edge to look at the crime scene.
The Irish for seagull translates literally as ‘wolf bird’ and Cat and her team hunt down the perpetrators of the crimes they investigate like a pack of wolves. Like Cat Connolly, seagulls are strong, feisty birds with no fear – they are also never far away, always watching and on the alert just like Cat Connolly herself. I’m fascinated by secrets and what goes on under the surface of life, I love mystery and hidden messages, so I’m thrilled that the designers were able to incorporate this tiny motif to link the series.
I’m delighted with the final set – No Turning Back leaves Cat Connolly and her Inspector Dawson O’Rourke in a very interesting place and I hope there will be more Cat books taking her onto the next stage in her career – watch this space!
(c) Sam Blake
About No Turning Back
Even perfect families have secrets . . .
Orla and Conor Quinn are the perfect power couple: smart, successful and glamorous. But then the unthinkable happens. Their only son, Tom, is the victim of a deliberate hit-and-run.
Detective Garda Cathy Connolly has just left Tom’s parents when she is called to the discovery of another body, this time in Dillon’s Park, not far from where Tom Quinn was found. What led shy student Lauren O’Reilly to apparently take her own life? She was a friend of Tom’s and they both died on the same night – are their deaths connected and if so, how?
As Cathy delves deeper, she uncovers links to the Dark Web and a catalogue of cold cases, realising that those involved each have their own reasons for hiding things from the police. But events are about to get a lot more frightening . . .
No Turning Back is available on Kindle at £0.99 for the month of July 2018.
Check out other articles by Sam Blake: