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Appearances: Judging Covers

I have been working on a poetry project for about three years, and I am thrilled to be nearing the editing and formatting stage. Part of this phase is choosing the outward appearance for the book. Although I am capable of completing the editing and formatting on my own, I am choosing to enlist an editorial team. I know it will add credibility to the hard work I have done in writing these poems if other eyes scrutinize and design the interior of my book. In the past, I have relied on stock-templates for my covers and included personal touches. But, I know my limits. Creating a wholly-unique cover that represents the genre and this collection is out of my wheelhouse.

So, I took the recommendation of the editorial team and contacted a cover designer. I sent samples of my poems and a description of the book for guidance. Within a week, I received a cover draft.

It more than met expectations.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we judge books by their covers. There is some logic behind it. I chose my designer based on the scope of his previous covers and because one of his designs made the final cut for an anthology that includes one of my stories. In a publishing world saturated by the fantasy genre, I knew I required a simple, sophisticated representation for a book of poetry. Certain expectations are revealed by a cover of a specific genre. I mentioned fantasy. What images come to mind? If a novel falls into the romance category, another image forms. If I add that it is a historical romance, then the picture changes again. If I remove the word “romance” and state the genre is historical fiction, the cover design shifts focus once more.

But if the genre is poetry, what is the expected visual?

I don’t know if I have the best answer, but this is my perspective. The cover on a collection of poetry reflects a balanced representation of the overall theme while allowing for the individual meaning of the each poem. It reveals everything and nothing at the same time. It compels the reader to open the book in order to discover the what and the why within.

For that reason alone, I can’t wait for my collection’s cover-reveal later this year.

Categories: Between the Lines: This Writer's Journal News

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