Woundabout Cover Creation

So as I promised, I’m going to talk about how we got to this wonderful cover.

cropped woundabout cover


(also as promised, it’s already been tweaked a little)

For the All Men of Genius cover, I didn’t really get a chance to participate in what I thought it should look like – fun fact: authors have very little control over covers. But in this case, as it was my brother doing the art, the art director Tracy was kind enough to keep me included on every step, and it was fascinating.

Originally, I had been really into the idea of a “winding” image, like the one we used for our announcement:


While Tracy and my amazing editor Alvina thought it was a great image, they thought it didn’t have enough impact to get it off the shelf. Alvina said it was a “title page image.” Tracy said that it also had too small a title – the border was going to make the words pretty tiny. They both told me that covers have to be the sort of art that, if a kid glances it on the shelf, inspires a “oooh, what’s that?” reaction. Mysterious. Striking. They told us we could work on it, but they also came up with a few general ideas for the cover – one of which was the seed of what the cover ended up being: an image of the town, not dissimilar from one already in the book, but this time in full color and with the title placed among the buildings. They really loved the title and wanted to display it front and center. There was also an idea of a manhole cover with the title carved into it and a bunch of feet around it, but Ellis and I pretty quickly rejected that one for not showing enough of Ellis’ art.

But then we only had this idea of the title among the city, and we spent a long time trying to figure out how it should look. I say “we,” but it was pretty much all Ellis and Tracy. I got to chime in and say “love that” or “hate that” sometimes, but those two were doing the real work. There were a lot of variations of this cover – one where the letters were straight and it said Wound on top of About, but we were concerned that “wound” on it’s own would be misread (as in “you wound me, sir”). There were versions where the title was painted onto the street, but it was too difficult to read. There was a version very similar to the final one, but where the lettering had serifs, which Tracy said made it too hard to read. It was really fascinating watching it all come together. Here’s a small sample of rough sketches Ellis did as we tried to iron out the image:




Meanwhile, as all this was happening, Tracy was taking these sketches to weekly meetings at Little, Brown of what I called The Cover Council. I assume they sat around a circular stone table with the Little, Brown symbol carved into it, lit only by candles, all of them in robes. There, they all gave their two cents on covers. I’m not super sure who’s on the council, but I assume it’s publicity, marketing, and the presidential types. We eventually got it down to the option the cover has become and a variation on the border one we were so keen on in the beginning:


The council voted, and the winding one was just a little too confusing. So we had our general image. Then Ellis started playing with color. There were a lot of color and texture variations, but eventually we settled on this one. It had the right mood.

At which point I made everything crazy by saying there should be some flower petals flying in the breeze, so there was a sense of depth. We tried that. It was not pretty. But the tiny flower petals falling off the tree stayed. I even went back and changed the color of them in the book to suit the color scheme of the cover.

This is just the front right now.  Ellis has just finished up all the interior artwork for the book (there were a lot of revisions made after the first draft – and if you have an ARC, almost all the images in it have been changed, at least slightly), but soon he’ll get to work on making the cover stretch out, to wrap around the back of the book.  I think it’s going to be stellar.  And I do believe a variation of our original announcement will, in fact, be the title page of the book.  I’m so proud of my brother for this amazing artwork.  The book is going to be really great, and it’s going be great mostly because of how pretty it is.  That’s all for now, but I imagine I’ll have more to show you in the coming months, especially in the new year.  Until then, I’m happy to answer any questions you have, here or on twitter or Facebook and I’d encourage you to check out more of my brother’s work at his website: http://www.ellisrosen.com