“You’re so selfish. You know we needed that money for gas.”
It was impossible no to hear the very loud conversation (argument) taking place in the car stopped next to us at the light. Uncomfortable and awkward, and impossible to avoid. The tone and dialogue caught my attention as thoroughly as the decibel at which it was being delivered.
From words alone, though, we could not decipher what the person had spent the money on. And this is where visual cues come to play. The driver, while being yelled at by his female passenger, sat there aggressively opening a box of cigarettes and attempted to defend himself.
I have been thinking a lot about visual cues lately as I work with my publisher on the cover of my soon to be released book, UNTANGLING THE KNOT. I have scanned other covers to determine what the visuals say about the
story that the title perhaps only hints at. A very good example of this is Marian Keyes book, WATERMELON. This is a clever title that none-the-less relies heavily on the excellent cover illustration to provide context for the story.
But it is not only the picture that shows the reader what to expect, even the colors used send a message. Pastels imply a soft story whereas dark, hard colors imply suspense or danger. Earth tones feel more serious in nature where bright hues, such as aquamarine or pink, indicate something fun or comedic.
These types of associations have long been used in children’s picture books to underline the themes of the writing. Great illustrations elevate what would otherwise be at best a boring and at worse a confusing story to something that is practically genius. Some of the very best examples of this are found in the Mo Willems books. Pick up one of Mo Willems most recent releases telling of the exploits of Elephant and Piggy to see what I mean:
Sadly, I am not an illustrator… and in fact, I’m not even very good at taking photos. I am fortunate, then, to be working with, in my opinion, one of the best cover designers in the business right now – Rae Monet. I know
that working together we will find the perfect way to show that UNTANGLING THE KNOT is about a misguided wedding, rather than a Fifty Shades spin-off or the lines used to tie up the Love Boat. Perhaps next time it will be the female passengers turn to spend the gas money…. On a really good book.
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