We have an exciting visitor today: Marci Senders, the Lead Designer for young adult titles at Disney-Hyperion. She teamed up with a freelance designer for the amazing cover for THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken and we’re lucky to have her visiting the blog to talk about cover design. I’ve always wanted to learn more about how covers come together and Marci has some great answers for my questions.
Welcome to Tynga’s Reviews! I don’t think we’ve ever had a cover designer visit the blog so this is a real treat. Could you please start off by telling us how you got into cover design?
I always loved making books and drawing. For college I went to Tyler School of Art at Temple University and majored in Graphic Design. When I graduated, the work in my portfolio was very child friendly and I took a Junior Design position with a teen book packager, now called Alloy Entertainment. I have been a book designer ever since.
As a cover designer, you’re largely responsible for a book’s first impression. How do you choose the design elements for a cover? What are the key elements for a successful cover?
I think it is so important for the designer to read the book. It is not only important for the designer to learn the content but also to get a sense of the tone and who the audience is. We also look closely at similar books in the stores. From there, the goal is to stay true to the content of the story while making the cover stand out and feel special on the bookshelves.
How much input do authors have into their covers? Is it a dialogue between you and the author? Are other parties involved or is it a more independent process?
Book covers are like snowflakes since the process is a little different every time. Authors sometimes do send us images of inspirations, photos of actors that match their character’s descriptions, etc. Most of our dialogue is with the editors, who are not only in contact with the author but also have a strong idea of what is the best way position the book. Is the book for a boy or girl reader or both? What is the genre? What age group should be reading this book? Once the editor is happy with the direction of the cover, the cover is shown to the author as well as our Sales, Marketing and Publicity teams to make sure we have the best package for the book.
What was the most interesting or challenging aspect of the cover of THE DARKEST MINDS?
Since the competition for The Darkest Minds has been so successful, it was a fun challenge to develop a look that was strong enough to really stand out in the crowd of dystopian books and would be appealing to both boys and girls. We tried a lot of directions and we ended up going with the really graphic symbol created by Sammy Yuen that feels both gritty and powerful.
Some covers use illustrations and others use photos as a starting point. Do you have a preference? Is one type of image better than the other?
I don’t have a preference. I think it is best to let the content of the story and the marketplace tell us what the cover should be. A successful cover needs to show enough about the story as quickly as possible. Whatever vehicle will get us there the quickest/clearest way, is what we should go with.
How do you keep yourself fresh and your covers unique?
I find that I get inspired when I am not really looking…like seeing a movie poster on the subway or when I am looking through a magazine. I have always kept a sketchbook of random photos, interesting type, unique color combinations, etc. that really catch my eye that I can refer back to. Now I also keep a digital record on Pinterest.
What are some of your favourite covers on the shelves right now?
I am really inspired right now by really simple, smart covers (even though they are not children’s books) like Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, Slow Lighting by Eduardo C. Corral and An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin. I am also loving the Sarah Dessen repackage.
Thanks very much for visiting us as part of THE DARKEST MINDS blog tour, Marci! We hope you’ll come back again.
If you’d like to check out the rest of the tour, click on the banner:
More about THE DARKEST MINDS:
When Ruby awakened on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” Because Ruby might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby knows that she is one of the dangerous ones and, when the truth comes out, she barely escapes Thurmond with her life. On the run and desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her, Ruby joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what she did to her parents.
When they arrive at the safe haven, East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work too, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. And soon Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
The heart-pounding first book a near-future dystopian series, Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS will leave you begging for the next installment.
Thanks to AuthorsOnTheWeb, we have one (1) copy of THE DARKEST MINDS for a lucky reader!
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Alexandra Bracken was born and raised in Arizona, but moved east to study at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. She recently relocated to New York City, where she works in publishing and lives in a charming apartment overflowing with books.