May 1, 2017

When book covers go to heaven


I became a book cover designer because I like variety. In food, in people, countries, music, everything. Every new book is an entirely new world with its own requirements, challenges, surprises. Every new cover is unpredictable, which keeps me excited — and anxious at all times. And every new cover is potentially the best cover I have ever done.

But there are obstacles. And there are more or less predictable reasons why the best cover ever will never see the light of day, and wind up buried on my hard drive.

Here are some of the potential dangers every best cover ever must avoid to become real:

1. Myself
Never rule out self-sabotage.

2. Authors
Authors are an unpredictable bunch. Sometimes they write heartfelt emails, describing in great detail how much they love their covers, and why. Sometimes they send cookies. Sometimes they offer their first-born (this actually happened). And sometimes they say my design is ugly, because their mother-in-law didn’t like it. Or their cat. Or that designer friend they have, who, by the way, can totally do this cover for me, if that’d be easier?

3. Editors
Because of the specifics of my current job, editors don’t kill my covers, which helps us maintain good relationships. Yes, I know that’s not the case for every cover designer/art director. Yes, I know how lucky I am.

4. Salespeople
Salespeople live in a magic land somewhere near Barnes & Noble Corporate HQ. I don’t see them. I don’t talk to them. They occasionally want to kill my covers from great distance. But because the distance is so great, they rarely make the shot.

5. Publishers
You know who’s always right? Publishers. Always. Especially my publishers. I love them, they’re the best.

So these are some potential killers of the best cover ever. And now, please take a look at some of my favorite murdered designs — because if you don’t see them, they died for nothing:

Marina Drukman is the art director at Melville House.