Converting words to pictures is not to be underestimated. Not every book requires a full-read if the author or editor already knows the visual hook. When I do read a manuscript no-cover to no-cover, it’s more complex than kicking back and enjoying the story. I’m usually taking notes, making doodles, lists, and marking pages. Visual content can be hidden in a phrase, be in plain sight, or clearly described.
One of the most visual authors is Stephen King, who I’ve had the great privilege to cover. His work is richly descriptive in the most minute detail. Scenarios are built and woven in a way that can’t help but conjure imagery. The trick to cover a King novel or collection of short stories is to capture a pinnacle moment without being a spoiler. Through the guidance of art directors and editors, I learned to address the human component to his stories without directly identifying the characters. This leaves a bit of imagination to the reader who will more likely assign their own interpretations of who the characters are. Creating environments and a sense of place needs to invite readers to enter King’s world before reading the first word.
A new trend in publishing is the smaller run with unique printing formats and materials. REST IN PIECES by Bess Lovejoy was a good example of breaking the norm for book design, It had a tall, slender format with a half-height, silver foiled dust cover. It also had fully illustrated end papers, a signature font, and chapter heads. It was printed in black and white inside and out.