Tuesday 29 September 2015

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A Novel Cover Up: Paul Coomey on the Proof Covers for Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

A Novel Cover Up

A Novel Cover Up is a semi-regular feature that looks at how covers are made. Here is the second of my Night Owls A Novel Cover Up double-whammy! Thanks to Simon & Schuster Children's Books, we're fortunate enough to have a guest post* from Designer Paul Coomey about how he designed the cover for the ten different proofs of Night Owls by Jenn Bennett. Other than the first photo, all images in this post are copyrighted to Simon & Schuster Children's Books and used with permission. They can be clicked to be enlarged.

Night Owls by Jenn BennettI knew we had something special as soon as I started reading Jenn Bennett’s artsy, cool, YA novel, Night Owls. It follows the story of Jack and Beatrix who meet on the Owl – San Francisco’s night bus. Both protagonists are artists, though wildly different ones: Bex is fascinated by anatomy and wants to be a medical illustrator, while Jack is a street artist, spray-painting giant gold words across the city’s landmarks. When they meet, their worlds explode in the best possible way – and although they’re on a journey that neither of them is supposed to be, they might just end up exactly where they need to go.

The idea behind the ten different proof covers came from a collective ‘wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if’ moment when we were in the early stages of talking about Night Owls. The idea fits in well with the tale as Jack, our Vegetarian Vandal, spray-paints ten different words on various San Francisco landmarks (Bloom, Begin, Belong, Celebrate, Endure, Fly, Trust, Rise, Jump and Love). There was no legal way for us to match the scope of Jack’s ambitious creations in the story, so the images we produced were more like fan-art or scaled-down versions of the words that he sprays in San Francisco. That said, our interpretation of his birthday wish to Bex might be about right. The images were made using gold acrylic paint and card stencils, which were later retouched in Photoshop.

Creation of Night Owls Proofs Photo Creation of Night Owls Proofs Photo

Creation of Night Owls Proofs Photo

We were able to work with our production department to print a limited edition of book proofs with the ten different words, keeping the same colour palette as the amazing cover created by Leo Nickolls.

Finished Proofs

Liz Binks, Marketing & PR Manager, then used these ten different proof covers as a key part of her Night Owls campaign. She sent the proofs to bloggers and key influencers across the country with instructions to Tweet a photo of the tag on the front of the proof to @hashtagreads using the hashtag #NightOwls for the chance to win a Kindle Fire. This created huge word of mouth buzz and helped to give Night Owls the special attention it deserved.

Tweet about Night Owls Proof Tweet about Night Owls Proof Tweet about Night Owls Proof

And here is a photo of my proof of Night Owls:

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett proof

Thank you, Paul, for such a great post! Isn't it interesting to see how proof covers are designed? I never thought two different people would have designed the proof covers and the finished cover! And such a brilliant marketing idea!

Be sure to check out Paul’s website and, if you missed it, my earlier interview with Leo Nickolls on the final Night Owls cover. You can also read my review of Night Owls by Jenn Bennett, which is out now!

*This guest post was originally written for and a version published on Waterstones' Blog. I have republished it here with permission from Simon & Schuster Children's Books.

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


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