A Cover Moves From Twine to the Ocean

Family Circle calls Nichole Bernier‘s debut novel a “smart, bittersweet tale [that] brilliantly captures what it means to be a mom, wife and friend.” The hardcover has an abstract feel, while the paperback image is more immediate. Nichole is here to talk about her involvement with each, and her feelings about the different covers:

I had a few visual ideas that were moody and vague and so esoteric no one would have had any idea what the book was about—namely, a woman who’d inherited the journals of a friend who’d died, and realized she didn’t know her as well as she’d thought.

unfinished work hc “I thought about a watercolor wash of a locked steamer trunk, and an elegant 19th century damsel at a writing desk (see what I mean? terrible). I even found a stock photograph of a woman’s hands working on an illustrated manuscript that would have made people think the novel was about a medieval treasure hunt. Thank goodness the brilliant folks at Crown know that a cover has to pique the interest with an image and a concept. I love what they did with the hardcover—making it look like a paper package wrapped in twine, with torn corners revealing a beach scene—something I’d never have imagined in a million years.

My agent had some tiny tweaks, but the only change I asked for was a different font for the title. The initial one looked childlike, and the story was really about the nuanced and sometimes troubling inner world of women’s friendship, marriage and motherhood. To Crown’s credit, they ended up commissioning an artist for a very specific rough calligraphy, for which I’m endlessly appreciative.

unfinished work pb “Paperback covers have to tell the same story interpreted with a visual makeover to pull in a new audience. There are people and stores that are more likely to go with paperbacks than hardcovers, and publishers often redesign paperbacks with them in mind. A woman looking out at the ocean is a more literal interpretation of the novel, and some would say a more inviting one. Who doesn’t want the vantage point of standing between the weathered shutters of a bungalow looking out at the ocean?”

Thanks, Nichole. I love how different these two covers are, and yet both give a hint of intimacy. To me, they both suggest: You are about to know this woman. 

What do you guys think?

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