A Book Cover Paints A Thousand Words…

When I started putting ideas together for the cover of my middle-grade book ‘The House That Wasn’t There’, it’s fair to say I didn’t really know what I was doing.

The problem was that, as usual, I’d come up with a title that intrigued me, but part of that intrigue meant I had to work out what it meant and, more importantly, what it would look like. My initial thoughts came in the form of a threesome: a house, a sunset and maybe a girl (Christie McKinnon), or a woman (the evil Mrs McIver).

The House That Wasn't There COVER
Cover 1
So with this first cover, I begin to see how it might work – I have the house and a woman and…well, that’s about all. The sky is awful due to using poor quality images, but that’s okay cos all I really need at this point is something that fits what’s in my imagination. Sort of. So I need a better sky, a better house and maybe play around with the colour of the fonts.

The House That Wasn't There COVER2
Cover 2
Now I really like the colour of the sky with the different hues, though maybe it’s still a bit dark. The next issue is the title. I have a bit of fun trying to create a sort of gradually darkening effect towards the bottom, but this version feels like there’s too any colours. Maybe we should pare it down a bit. Less is more, as they say.

The House That Wasn't There COVER 3 copyCover 3
Better. However, the figure standing at the side of the house like the French Lieutenant’s Woman is bugging me, so I get rid of her. What I need is someone dangerous like real Victorian villain Amelia Dyer (who inspired the character of Mrs McIver). I found a Victorian image and played around with it, initially thinking it might work in black over the title. But then you couldn’t read the damn title, so I eased up on the colour and discovered a rather nice shadowy effect. Adding a bit of Gaussian blur helped too. But I still don’t like the house…
The House That Wasn't There COVER 4 for website
Cover 4
Okay, so we’ve got another house but I’m not sure if it works – it’s a strange shape and a bit too small, and maybe not imposing enough. And before I forget, my name needs to be bigger, or it’ll look crap on the thumbnail.

Final Version (for the paperback)
So I get another house, lighten up the sky and use a bigger font for my name. So why didn’t I just do all that in the first place? Well, like everything, it’s a creative process and I got there in the end. As somebody famous probably once said

‘It’s all about the journey’

. The House That Wasn't There CSP Cover copy

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