New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

Talkin’ eBook Covers with Vincent Zandri–our continuing conversation on what makes a good cover

By on July 4, 2011 in Zoo with 0 Comments

Vincent Zandri's Godchild eBook coverThe Shop by J. Carson Black eBook CoverTalkin’ Covers with Vincent Zandri
Our Continuing conversation on what makes a good cover

Vincent and I both write in similar genres, both of us serving up a crime fiction-thriller-noir concoction that attracts a similar readership. Zandri’s more noir than I am, more hard-boiled, but we fish at the same watering hole.

So it’s not surprising to me that our covers have similarities. We both come from traditional publishing backgrounds, and we know the types of covers that attract our kind of audience. Stonegate Ink has done an incredible job in branding Vincent’s books by using a similar color palette but very different in subject matter, and the uniform print face for Vincent’s name stands out. He owns that print font.

All of these things tell you a Zandri book is here.
His book GODCHILD has similar colors to his other big books: THE INNOCENT and THE REMAINS. The palette is both dark and luminous, consisting of teal, black, red, and a little bit of gold. GODCHILD is gritty and dark, signifying noir. You can feel the menace. A man is walking on a street, close to the left margin of the book cover. He is mostly in silhouette. He has a gun. He is large and strong. But tracking him every step of the way is an old (scary) car, the headlights dim and amorphous as the threat, the grill vaguely human, like a nasty smile.

Are the men in the car—and you know there are at least two of them!–tracking him because he is the point man, or are the tracking him because they mean him harm? To my way of thinking, that tension adds to the mystery. It is one more thing to draw you in.

I was drawn to GODCHILD immediately, and I wonder if the designer had the same thoughts we did when we devised our cover, THE SHOP. We wanted menace. We wanted someone tracking our character. We knew, too, that a silhouette is shorthand for “thriller.” In our case, my heroine is being tracked by bad guys in an rigid-hulled inflatable boat.

Yet these covers are very different. Even if I had never seen these books before, I would guess “noir/thriller” for Vince’s book, and straight “thriller” for mine. In all these ways, many of them subliminal, we brand our covers and ourselves.

I’ve always believed it’s good to have a uniform look for a series of books, but not too uniform. You don’t want all the books to look alike, or the reader may have a hard time differentiating among them, and end up buying the same book twice. (I guarantee, they will not like you for this!) Zandri’s books are all “the same but different.” Each has its own theme, its own message, but when you see all of them together, they say, “THAT is a Zandri book.”

You couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

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