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More of What's Behind the Covers

Here is some insight to the Dooven Books’ ebook cover redesign with Josh Hayward from PixelAttic.

According to Josh, the problem the Dooven Books face is that being New Fable fiction, there’s no recognised imagery or ubiquitous symbol that convey the genre. Unlike Science Fiction, for example, which is universally recognised as being associated with planets and starships. This symbolism is important because readers make a decision when scanning ebook covers in less than one hundred milliseconds, so immediate conveyance of genre and content is essential.

A book cover needs to do the following:

· Catch a potential reader’s attention

· Create an immediate emotional response

· Convey something of what the book contains

The difficulty the Dooven Books face is the third point. Being New Fable, their content is not conveyed by readily identifiable imagery as established genres are. For example, Steampunk is recognised through cogs and gears, Science Fiction through spaceships and planets, and Romance by soft porn. How then, can the elements of New Fiction be conveyed? Indeed, what are its elements? The Dooven Books were broken down into four main characteristics:

· International adventure

· Ludicrousness

· Humour

· Anthropomorphism

All fiction contains multiple themes, of course, but the problem remains one of established visual identity. To solve this, a film strip design was decided upon to allow multiple frames to deliver images of all four characteristics and to act as a symbol of the books’ overall cinematic escapism.

If we take the first three points, the characteristics of an ebook cover must:

1. Catch a potential reader’s attention.

Visually and stylistically, the cover must resonate with the readers’ desires at that moment. This doesn’t mean appealing to all readers, just the ones who are looking for that book at that time. Readers have multiple personalities: one day they’ll be seeking romance and the next a political memoir. It’s not about intriguing every reader, just those who happen to be browsing for that book at that time. In the case of the Dooven Books, this means strong, vibrant colours and a hint of cartoonisation through extractionist artwork.

2. Create an immediate emotional response.

Even more instinctive than visual appeal is the gut reaction a cover invokes. Again, for Steampunk, it’s the dark grittiness. For Science Fiction, it’s the excitement of new technologies and the adventure it gives rise to. For Romance, it’s the promise of literal climax (come on, it’s the two pages of filth within two hundred others that matters). For the Dooven Books, this is achieved with a headshot of principle characters, and "screenshots" of the book's scenes.

Convey something of what the book contains.

For Steampunk, this involves psueso-Victorian adventure, whereas Science Fiction has a huge range. New Fable, however, is much easier. Considering Thomas’ appalling writing, the cover simply needs a nice big picture of a slimy, elastic turd. As there was no room left on the cover for this, at least, not without cluttering, it was decided that the characteristics of point 2 above would suffice. Regardless, Thomas' name is synonymous with fecal matter anyway.


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