Cover Me: Lisa Tilton Amps Up Nine Volt Heart

I asked Lisa, of LisaTiltonDesign, to create book cover designs for a couple of series coming from Jugum Press. She previously created the great covers for the Accidental Heretics series.

We sat together—via wonders of the Internet—to brainstorm a creative baseline for the new Rain City Comedy of Manners series. I presented Lisa with ~40 covers that show what I like, and to describe what I thought were essential for this series, which ranges from suspense to romance, with a light touch and an emphasis on the characters.

In terms of genre images, we didn’t want readers to mistake this series focus, lest they be disappointed:
– Not category romances.
– Not hard-core thrillers.
– Not detective mysteries.

These are the elements that we sought for the Rain City series:
– Consistent, distinctive typography.
– Title and author names show well in catalog thumbnails.
– Dynamic images, but without a focus on human figures or faces.
– Color pops, common across the series.

One idea Lisa played with riffs off the handwriting/line-drawing trend in contemporary fiction like The Imperfectionists or The Financial Lives of Poets. This style signals to the reader (I think) that a quirky story lies between the covers. Here’s Lisa’s take on the line-element style for Nine Volt Heart:
Nine Volt Heart

It works—though it’s not my favorite color, and the audio jack seems slightly threatening, even with the clever heart in the cord.

A second set of ideas Lisa presented focused on story-related objects paired with bold graphics:
Nine Volt Heart

Clever elements that I like:
– Type design for the author name / series tag.
– The volume knob in “Volt”.
– The wood floor.
However, I’m not a fan of stenciled wallpaper; that seems too busy. But I couldn’t work with Lisa to solve that problem because of the dobro.

Now, I love the dobro. I’ve gotten myself into awkward relationships with people who played dobro. A dobro serves an important role in the mystery elements in Nine Volt Heart. But I fear that a dobro on the book’s cover would scare away readers who might shy away from the idea of Americana.

I can hear some people that I wish would read Nine Volt Heart turn away, saying:
“No Alt-country for Old Men.”

However, Lisa’s third attack on the design problem knocked me out.
This solution builds on the typographical element that she proposed for the series. It uses similar design solutions for the author name as appear with the dobro.
Nine Volt Heart

This design uses a photo by Jacyn Stewart from the Family Wash one night when Reeves Gabrels and His Imaginary Friends played (loudly). It captures the spirit of the music in Nine Volt Heart better than the dobro.

In a later post, I’ll show the side-by-side design candidates for the two Rain City books being published by Jugum Press this summer.

Special Note for the Opinionated: A day or so remain if you feel compelled to comment on this design. Write to me privately with your comments.

Ready to read Nine Volt Heart?
It’s almost here—just a few more days until release.
Can you find true love
without a non-disclosure agreement
after your picture is on the cover of Rolling Stone?
He said, “I love you.”
She said, “You don’t even know the real me.”
He said, “Great title for a song. Key of G?
Can you sing the high parts? Close harmony?”
Jason, the singer-songwriter, and Susi, a music teacher, meet by accident in Seattle.
Their professional lives quickly become entwined in unexpected ways,
while each tries to hide deep secrets from the other.
Yet in love—and on the Internet—who really has secrets?

About anniepearsonOK

Author of the Rain City series, managing editor of Jugum Press, and writer/project manager for eclectic technical communications projects.

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