Front covers are SO important! It’s the first thing anyone sees in a bookshop, online, on social media. First impressions can make the difference between someone buying the book or putting it back down again/scrolling past.
I absolutely loved the front covers for my books with the same publisher, A Library of Lemons, and A Storm of Strawberries. Those two covers were quite similar, but it was hard to work out how to keep the style for Jelly, and so we decided to try something a little different. Piccadilly asked me if I had any ideas for the image. I said yes, I wondered about having Jelly standing performing, whilst her shadow was cowering behind her, showing the two sides of her. That’s not what I eventually got – but that’s OK because quite often the ideas of the author and the publisher don’t match!
The Designer for Jelly was Anneka Sandher, who commissioned artist and illustrator Sara Mulvanny to draw a main image for the front cover. With permission, here are the very first two rough drawings I was sent.
I was invited to give my opinion on the two covers and I felt I definitely preferred Version B. We have a saying: ‘There’s too much on my plate’ and that’s what’s happening here. Piccadilly agreed. There was also discussion about my name looking too squashed at the top of the jelly, and the girl’s clothes being not quite right. So Sara was asked to draw an updated Version B.
Version C was definitely going in the right direction! You’ll notice that my name has been moved to the top of the image, and that possible areas have been found for ‘shoutline or quote’. A shoutline is another word for a strapline (see Glossary). A quote is a short phrase or sentence provided by another author or a celebrity. Quotes are often used on book covers to help the reader decide whether it’s their type of book or not! I asked the lovely Cathy Cassidy if she would give me a quote for this book. She read the manuscript and said some very nice things about it, which meant we had a glorious quote for the cover.
For the next version, Sara added full colour. My name was still at the top, and the scattered papers in the background had been removed. They were supposed to be Jelly’s poems on scraps of paper, but we agreed that that wouldn’t be obvious enough, and it just made the cover look too cluttered. In Version D, the quote from the front cover of A Library of Lemons was dropped in to see what it would look like (this was before Cathy’s quote came in).
At this point, I suggested moving my name down to the bottom of the image (making the floor deeper) because I wanted to keep the same font that we’d used on Lemons and Strawberries…
So Version E was born…with a strapline I came up with
I liked the fact that the font matched the previous books, but it was clear even to me that it looked way too curly next to the lovely handwritten Jelly. So with a sigh, I gave in to Version F, which was much ‘cleaner’ even though it didn’t match the other books (grumblegrumble).
I did also have some concerns over the figure of the girl, but I couldn’t win everything 😉
And so, finally, we came to Version G, which is the one you will see on your own copy. If you search online though, you’ll find Version F too, which was released as a ‘holding cover’ while the final one was being worked on! You’ll also notice that the final strapline has an added ‘to’ which I insisted on, because it improved the flow of the line. See, I won that one! 😀
So there you go – the full story of how the front cover of Jelly came to be – and believe me, this was a very straightforward development process! Many of my other covers haven’t been anything like so smooth!
Many thanks to Sara Mulvanny for permission to share images