Before I dive into the complex world of book covers, I should confess that my rudimentary and frankly half-hearted initial search quickly turned into a passionate and intense hunt for cultural trends, typography, and design. It turns out that book covers are fascinating and not altogether unlike clothing fashion. Just as I wear styles first adopted by fashion icons who convince me of their chic-cool factor (I’m looking at you, overalls and turtlenecks), there are design bandwagoners for book covers as well.
Questions asked in the process of writing a cover brief for Sleeping in My Jeans: How should the cover of a young adult/suspense novel look? What should be on the cover to represent homelessness, hope, and the bond of sisters? Is the design going to be realistic or abstract?
Sleeping in My Jeans is officially one year out. While our official pub date is yet to be set, we’re planning on putting the book out sometime in November of 2018. To many, that would seem like a ton of time. What could you possibly do with an entire year until your book publishes? You’d be surprised.
The publishing world has long recognized the link between a book’s cover image and its genre. A quick glance at Derek Murphy’s compilation of “cliché book covers” will obliterate any doubts. There are no shortage of dragons to grace the covers of fantasy or shadowy figures for mysteries. People have come to accept and expect these trends. And now, so have computers.
Sleeping in My Jeans is the story of one sixteen-year-old Mattie Rollins who abruptly finds herself homeless with her mother and six-year-old sister, Meg. Though handling the pressures of school, a social life, and watching over her sister while their mother looks for an apartment are tough, nothing’s as bad as when Mattie’s mom turns up missing. A thrilling account of one girl’s struggle to keep herself and her family together, Sleeping in My Jeans is more than just a suspenseful YA novel. It brings up a host of legitimate issues that real children like Mattie face every single day in places like Eugene, OR, where the story is set.
Of course, every book provides its own set of challenges, but a book like 50 Hikes is in many ways new territory for Ooligan Press. We’ve had to rethink a lot of our standard strategies to establish a workable plan for making and selling this book. Our editing team has done an admirable job of figuring out how to deal with content provided by a group of volunteers rather than a single author. Our marketing department, meanwhile, is grappling with the challenges of adapting the marketing strategies we’ve used for past titles to a hiking guidebook. For example, how many guidebooks have you seen reviewed in Publishers Weekly lately? (Answer: more than you might think, but it’s definitely not their bread and butter.)
Probably the most exciting project happening right now is the cover design, which has been selected via student vote and will be finalized over the next few weeks. As with any book, the real challenge with the aesthetic has been figuring out how to set 50 Hikes apart from other guidebooks while also having it fit in with ongoing trends. You want your book to catch the reader’s eye, but you also want it to match the rest of its genre and be recognized as such. Hiking guidebooks definitely have a particular look, and we thought a lot about how much we wanted this book to call back to those covers as we went through the design process. 50 Hikes is primarily a guidebook, of course, but the Sierra Club’s involvement means that it’s also a conservation effort—with the goal of encouraging hikers to explore, to enjoy, and, ultimately, to protect natural spaces. Making a cover that accurately reflects both of these aspects in one image hasn’t been an easy process, but Oolies decided on a gorgeous design that will no doubt merge these themes successfully in its final form.