There used to be a time when abstract book covers were all the rage. Today is definitely not that time. But doesn’t that only mean such a cover would actually STAND OUT amongst all the off-the-shelf stock photo manipulated covers? I’d like to think so.
Case in point. Charles Salzberg’s SECOND STORY MAN for Down & Out Books. Originally my brief suggested a broken window, for a “story of a master burglar being pursued by a retired cop.” Now that would certainly be a fine and easy cover, but I’ve done quite a few of those, and I’d been thinking about doing more abstract work.
Now I’m always happy to work with D&O’s Eric Campbell, who always takes suggestions, even if they’re left field. As long as they grab his attention. So I took a photo of mine I liked, and then took it completely apart in photoshop. I layered in ‘stories,’ added splashes of dirt (it is a crime novel after all) and basically beat the living daylights out of it until it resembled and suggested more than it depicted anything.
I liked the result and shot it off to Eric who shot it off to Charles and we were basically done half an hour later. I tweaked the fonts a bit, shuffled the text placement, and voila. An abstract cover. For a modern crime book.
I personally believe you shouldn’t (always) depict a scene in a book, or show off a character. The power of fiction comes from it being a participatory sport, co-creation between the author and the reader. You bring your own thoughts, ideas and experience into how you read words. And as such, a cover that suggests a tone or a mood can work wonders.
Buy a copy of SECOND STORY MAN on amazon.