Sometimes, as much as you love your book cover, you have to admit that it just isn’t right – that even though it’s good, it could be better. That’s the conclusion I recently drew with my novel, Sleep Savannah Sleep. Don’t get me wrong: I love the original cover art for this book. From the spindly tree branches and fog to the owl perched on the gravestone and the rich, mouthwatering purple sky, it has all the makings of a respectable book cover of its genre … but it just isn’t focused enough. It doesn’t say what it needs to.
Sleep Savannah Sleep is a paranormal murder mystery that goes heavy on the horror. It’s chock-full of deadly small-town secrets, nasty slander, jealous husbands, crooked cops, murder and ghosts – or a ghost, anyway. There are some pretty serious scares here, something that I believe the cover art should more clearly express. The owl is cute and all but the fact is, it doesn’t scare me – and I want to be scared.
That’s why I decided it was time to revisit the artwork for this book. My cover artist, Mike – who is an absolute genius – allows me to watch as he does the design work, allowing me to make suggestions and give feedback as he goes along. The temptation here, of course, is to get a little too involved in the process and forget who the professional designer is (SPOILER ALERT: it isn’t me.) This is what happened with the first Savannah cover, and it almost happened with the new one, too.
But luckily, I don’t travel alone. I always, always take my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, as well as my publicist, Berlin, with me to my design meetings and the reason is simple: The more eyes, the better the result. But not only do these lovely ladies see things I don’t, they also keep me from getting too fixated on an idea. Such was the case during the making of the new Savannah cover today. I wanted a cemetery. And a ghost. And fog. And trees. And a moon. Needless to say, it was overcrowded. It wasn’t working and we all knew it – and that’s when Tamara suggested a new idea. She explained her basic vision and I was sold. Thirty minutes later I had a new cover for Sleep Savannah Sleep – and I love it.
I really think this one captures the mood and atmosphere of this story. Savannah is a macabre jaunt into the unknown, a walk in the darkness all by yourself … and now the artwork makes me feel it. Now I really believe it …
Thanks go to Mike for making it, Berlin for prying me off my ideals, and Tamara for her idea.