Monday 21 April 2014

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A Novel Cover Up: Tom Sanderson on The Elemental Series by Brigid Kemmerer

A Novel Cover Up

A Novel Cover Up is a semi-regular feature that looks at how covers are made. Thanks to Much-in-Little, for the Storm by Brigid Kemmerer UK Blog Tour, I have been fortunate enough to invite back Graphic Designer, Tom Sanderson to discuss how he designed the cover for The Elemental Series. Other than the final covers and the TV show poster, all images in this post are copyrighted to Tom and used with permission, and can be clicked to enlarge.

Storm by Brigid KemmererHi Tom! Can you tell us about the covers for The Elemental Series? What do you hope it tells readers about the story?

Hi Jo, With the Elemental covers the first design issue that I had to think about was getting a strong series device that could be used to link all the covers together, as I knew there would be a several covers in the series. I was told when Constable & Robinson commissioned me that they would be publishing the novels in print but they would also be publishing the linking novellas as eBooks, so I would need to translate the series into this format as well. For me the most straight forward way of linking these two series of books together would be through the typography, so quite early on in the briefing I realised I wanted to do something interesting with the type. I also wanted the covers to have that cool filmic approach that very much works with the YA genre, so my early reference also included looking at quite a lot of movie posters to get the right kind of look. I've been a fan of the marketing imagery used on the ‘Fringe’ TV series and the poster of the butterfly with the shows type was an early reference point for these covers. I really like the 3D elements of the typography and thought this would be something I could use with these covers.

Fringe TV poster

How did you come up with the idea for the covers? The Elemental Series is already out in the US and Australia – did those covers have any bearing on your ideas?

C&R told me that they wanted to have some reference to the teen characters in the stories. As we didn’t have the budget to hire models and do a photoshoot, I knew I would need to use stock imagery for the characters. This would mean that they would need to be quite stylised and silhouetted in order for them to work. With US covers they made quite a big deal of the characters whereas I wanted to make them more mysterious and atmospheric which I think worked quite well. I did have a look at the US covers but I wanted the UK versions to be more gritty and edgy.

What were you given to base your ideas on? Did you have a manuscript, or were you given an outline?

I was given a pretty good synopsis from the publisher as well as descriptions of the key characters which proved invaluable.

What went into creating The Elemental Series covers? Can you tell us about the process? Who else was involved?

The series was actually quite a straight forward one to work on. I sent C&R three early approaches to Storm (visual1, visual2 and Storm jpg) and explained to them how I wanted the typography to hold everything together across the series and the novellas and they pretty much went with the Storm jpg that I originally sent.

Storm Early Image

Storm Early Image

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

What do you like most about these covers?

I really like the punchy title type and the metallic feel of it, and also the filmic style of these covers.

So far we’ve seen covers for Storm, Spark and Spirit. Can you tell us what you might be thinking for the other books in the series, Secret and Sacrifice, and the novellas?

As I have already mentioned, the novellas have been designed to fit into the series look. The main constraint was to not have any imagery of the characters on the ebooks and just to stick with the typography, so they have quite a stripped back feel.

Spark by Brigid Kemmerer Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer

Fearless by Brigid Kemmerer Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer

Anything else?

That’s pretty much it, as I said the series was quite a smooth one to work on so there wasn’t a huge amount of preparatory stuff to show with these covers.

Thank you, Tom, for such an interesting intervie! I think the cover Much-in-Little went with is best of the early images, but all such similar ideas! I love the final covers, so bold and eye-catching! I think they really give the sense of power and danger that the Merricks have to control so much. I love them!

Tom Sanderson has been designing books for over 10 years. He began his website in 2009 and has worked for most of the major publishing houses for both the adult and young adult market. is a freelance design company specialising in design, illustration and art direction for the publishing industry.

Be sure to check out Tom’s website and Storm, which was released on 17th April!

Enjoyed this post? Then check out all the previous A Novel Cover Up posts.

If you are a publisher or jacket designer who is interested in featuring an upcoming book for A Novel Cover Up, please feel free to contact me.


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