The book cover is probably my favorite part of putting out a book.
I don't make the book covers, oh god no. I rely on the experts for that kind of thing. But getting the book covers from my designer... oh that is magic.
Let me explain. Before a book gets its cover, it's a seemingly endless document, just black words on a white field on a computer screen. It's more or less the same as any other extraordinarily long document. It's basically a term paper. It's that exciting.
Before a book gets its cover, it's still in progress. For task oriented thinkers like me, it's difficult to even feel accomplished when looking at it. It is a thing unfinished, a job left undone.
But once you get the cover from the designer, before you even see it attached to a book, suddenly your project takes on an identity. A personality. It comes alive. The cover is the lightning that quickens your assortment of parts and turns it into your very own Frankenstein's Monster.
I never know exactly what the cover is going to look like until its done and in my hot little hands. I have a kind of a general idea, I usually provide some kind of artistic direction for the project even though I'm not doing the work. But it's never quite what I think I'm going to get. So it's like finally seeing the face of someone you've known all your life but never set eyes on.
You wouldn't think that something so simple as a jpeg or a pdf could awaken this kind of excitement in me. But me and book covers, we go back a long way.
When I was a kid, I would take my allowance money down to Waldenbooks. I would stand, usually in the sci-fi/fantasy section, surrounded by dozens of titles and only able to buy one or two.
This was back when you could get a mass market paperback for five or six bucks, mind you.
It was a hard choice to make. And as much as people like to say that you can't judge a book by its cover, that is exactly what we do. I would pick up book after book and look at those covers, each one a glossy promise to take me to some far away world. Star fields containing futuristic space ships or mysterious planets; jungles full of alien life forms, handsome princes and beautiful princesses, unicorns and gryphons. Each cover beckoning me toward the adventure that lay inside.
I feel that same excitement when I get a cover for one of our books. It's a very pure and childlike feeling. And I get impatient to share it with people, because I know that someone, somewhere, will see it and think, "Oh. I wonder what's in there?"
And isn't that what this is all about? Wondering, and wonder?