We have written about our cover process here, and we have shown covers loved and lost here and here. Sometimes the initial cover designs inadvertently restart the process of naming the book. This occurs every now and again and just becomes part of the creative process for that particular project. What usually happens is that the author, editor, and designer are working along on a project, totally clear on what it’s about. We emerge from our isolated make-zone and start showing what we have made to other people. Sometimes these other people do not get what we have made. So we ask for feedback and try again. The book Gem and Stone is an example of this process.
The book features Jen Altman’s gorgeous close-up images of 50 different gems, minerals, rocks, and metals. When I began designing cover options it was going to be called Lustre. We thought the title was evocative and romantic. Here are several sketches I worked up with this title.
After more exploration and finessing, here are the 5 options I presented to our cover group.
The group was torn between these two directions, pyrite and amethyst, so we had proofs output of each to see how the images would reproduce.
When we showed the proofs to people who weren’t familiar with the project we started to get some puzzled responses. People didn’t understand what the book was about. We realized that the abstract imagery of the stones combined with the evocative title weren’t conveying the contents clearly and quickly. And a book cover, like a billboard, must communicate clearly and quickly. We also got a lukewarm response to the pyrite and amethyst. “Something blue or green!” we were enthusiastically told.
The editor worked to simplify the title and make it more direct. I worked on many more directions with this title.
I narrowed it down to these 6 to re-present to our cover group.
From these, we chose our final cover. The imagery of the labradorite is true to the contents of the book. The title makes it understandable.