The Rough Guide to Book Covers

Monday, 22nd August 2005

Cover rough
A busy version of the cover

Cover rough
The new improved, simplified cover

'As for the cover,' writes Danny Gregory, my straight-talking friend in New York, 'These drawings seem disconnected and don't draw me in particularly. All the white space seems sort of clinical or pamphlet-y as opposed to evoking the lushness of nature. While the drawings are very nice, they don't tell me much of a story; I just go, 'yup, poppies, vermin, digging thing, got it' as opposed to being intrigued by what the “wilder side of the garden” might mean.'

'What about one over all image, a special painting done for the cover and that fills the whole thing and has the text integrated into it? A landscape of your whole garden or one corner of it complete with creepy crawlies might be nice as a subject. Maybe put Barbara into it, weeding.'

Barbara, who has been asking people at the library where she works what they think about the cover, and getting a very favourable response, flatly refuses to be my cover star!

My friend Godavari, in London, suggests a single image, perhaps with a touch of humour. Richard Knowles at our local bookshop says it's fine, but he doesn't like white covers; they can soon get grubby, as can, perhaps surprisingly, black covers. So there's a bookseller's practical point of view.


Cover rough by John WeldingJohn Welding also thinks that I should simplify my design and he e-mails me some images where the poppies (right) or voles are given prominence.

My problem with selecting one image is that it then seems to take on extra significance; so the poppies here might make me think of World War I poets, of sentimental ballads or they may give the impression that the book is concerned mainly with botany.

I decide to try out the drawing of the wheelbarrow that I made yesterday on the cover. It doesn't take long to drop it into place.

Yes, I like that, and, when I print it out and try it on my pin board against the earlier versions, I find that it has more integrity than the soft all-over-ness of the previous versions.

And, although it is just one image, the wheelbarrow-full of trimmings does go with my Rough Patch title and it has a touch of humour to it. Godavari will like that! But I can't help thinking it now looks like the cover of children's story . . .


Danny Gregory

Rickaro Bookshop

John Welding

Richard Bell,