News room: Announcing the Lord of the Book Covers winner

Announcing the Lord of the Book Covers winner by Sarah Juckes

Hundreds of you voted for your favourite indie book cover this month. Now, the results are in and we’re pleased to announce the winning ‘Lord of the Book Covers’ and the four runners-up.

Winner of the title ‘Lord of the Book Covers 2015’

With 10.79% of the vote, Jay Spencer Green’s cover for Breakfast at Cannibal Joe’s is the winner of the coveted ‘Lord of the Book Covers’ title, winning ETERNAL GLORY and some rather fancy publishing prizes from CompletelyNovel.

Massive congratulations to Jay! And a huge thank you to everyone who voted.

Commended mentions

The competition was so fierce that it all came down to just a few votes, so it’s only fair to recognise the titles who only just missed out:

So, what goes into the making of a prize-winning book cover? We caught up with Jay and his cover designer to find out.

Author Jay Spencer Green – “I wanted to avoid pigeon-holing and cliché”

By 2014, I’d had four novels with a leading Irish agent for more than a decade, but for one reason or another she had been unable to place them with a publisher. We parted ways amicably last year, when I decided to go the indie route and finally get my books into people’s hands.

Jon was a pioneer of the DIY/indie ethos behind punk, and I’d always been a huge fan of his music, art, and philosophy. When it came to publishing Breakfast at Cannibal Joe’s, I was determined that, after all those years of waiting, it would be as perfect a book—in my eyes—as I could make it, and that automatically meant a Langford cover.

Of course, I knew that Jon’s unique style would set the book apart from everything else out there, which would make it difficult to deduce the book’s genre on first sight, but frankly it’s a privilege for me to have a work of art by Jon on the cover of my first book. Besides, I wanted to avoid pigeon-holing and cliché, even if that meant compromising sales figures, because my goal was to produce books that stood on their own as identifiably ‘Jay Spencer Green’ novels. I figured that since Jon had never designed a cover for a novel before, this would be an advantage if I wanted a distinctive look for my works, and in the end I gave him only the most basic of briefs for the covers of my first three novels, having every faith that he would produce something at once eye-catching and distinctive, but also clearly a Langford work of art.

He came through, didn’t he? I’m a very lucky author indeed.

Designer Jon Langford – “Clear instructions from the author really help.”

In the great tradition of cannibalism celebrated in Mr. Green’s hilarious novel, I took scans of colours and textures of my existing paintings, and sliced and diced them into a drawing of a three-legged dancing pig, using a very creaky old version of Adobe Photoshop I keep around for such occasions.

As this is the first of a series of novels that will have a consistent look, it was good to take my analog artwork into the digital world. I enjoy the layering of Photoshop, as it mirrors the way I make my paintings by hand. They usually have a very clear central image floating on a scratched-up, distressed, monochromatic 2D background – and Mr. Green was quite specific that the subject matter would be a dancing pig with a limb missing, and a string of sausages dangling from its mouth. This made my job very easy. Clear instructions from the author really help.

The title lettering was very important – I wanted it to be part of the painting and not just blasted in later, so I constructed an alphabet on Photoshop using elements from other paintings of mine that rely heavily on hand-painted text. Photoshop is good because you can move things around (much easier than starting from scratch with a painting if Jay didn’t like where the lettering was).

Important tip – leave loads of room for bleed around the edges of the cover (the expanded areas of background that do not include essential information). Don’t put anything in the bleed that you don’t want hacked off by the printer.

Now that I have won a competition for book cover design (first thing I’ve ever won in my life) I imagine my life will change dramatically, but I am open to offers from other aspiring novelists if you can track me down!

So – over to you. What do you think makes a great cover design? Leave your comments below.

More advice on cover design:

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Written by
Sarah Juckes
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