I’ve seen I think three different covers for Ammonite. One is rather generic and I suppose doesn’t really count. One is with an ammonite with blues and blacks with small bits of white and one is of a woman wearing some kind of gauzy full length garment walking along a beach done in pastel tones.
What I want to know is which do you prefer or like best?
By ‘generic’ I assume you mean genre: the original Del Rey cover in orange and yellow and red with a jellybean spaceship front and centre. I didn’t like that one–I had my heart set on a fossil, and gorgeous blues and gold and silver–but, wow, it sold brilliantly for a first novel: well over 25,000 copies in the first few months. So I stopped complaining. The marketing people at Del Rey clearly knew their business.
Two years later, the reissued mass market paperback, designed to be published in tandem with the brand new Slow River hardcover, was cool because stylistically it matched the biologically-focused SR. But it dated really fast and, well, it still didn’t have a fossil on the cover.
When Stay was being published, a few years later, Del Rey thought it would be good for the Little Book That Could to vaguely match that. They published a whole new, trade paper edition, and made it look much less science fictional: the woman wandering barefoot on the beach in a bedsheet look.
None of these covers work that well for me. But the cool thing is that they attracted different readerships, so it seems churlish to complain. But my favourite Ammonite cover, hands down, is the one I designed for the UK:
I forget who did the actual artwork but it was more or less exactly what I’d drawn in stick figures. I think it really represents the book (clearly the Germans thought so, too–they used the same artwork). On some level, though, they’re all beautiful to me; they’re all my first novel.
16 thoughts on “Ammonite covers”
I do like the “Ammonite”, Ammonite cover but especially your creation. Reminds me of Clan of the Cave Bear. I actually have an Ammonite fossil-among a ton of others- that is now more meaningful than before. :)>>I recently viewed,and I cannot remember where,sigh, an interview with an author who discussed that not only are several “covers” may be used but different titles for the same book.>>I will agree the cover will draw me to the book and “say” something about what may be inside. If I know and like the author, the cover does not matter. >>Did you ever have a dispute with a publisher over the jacket graphics?>>My tech at work recently gave me a book she said I “had” to read,but I honestly could NOT get by the cover to even give it a go.
I’d have to agree; the one you designed is definitely the best. I kind of like that first one in a way; it looks so retro sf. Kind of cool to have all of these different covers it seems. The current one is the one I have; odd, that I never even looked that closely at it. I don’t pay much attention to covers unless I really like the artwork or they are really, really tacky looking. The beach lady is kind of blah, but I think it evokes kind of a nice ephemeral feeling. Interesting that they chose those colors with all that softness. There is actually a second woman in the distance there. Weird that they actually do appear to be wearing sheets.>>I’ve looked much more closely at the cover of SLOW RIVER. You mentioned one of those covers last month. I’m not into collecting books, but I was moved to order used hardback copies I didn’t have for SLOW RIVER (and TBP). The SR hardback cover is not nearly as nice as the other two imo.
linda, I have a zillion ammonites. I picked up a couple in Whitby, way back when, but once the book came out, oof, people bought me ammonite jewellery, ammonite artwork… I still long for one of the huge (boulder-sized) ammonites I saw in Whitby thirty years ago. I love to have one as floor sculpture in the living room, but those puppies cost tens of thousands of dollars now.>>As for ‘did I dispute with a publisher?’ ha! More like, did I ever not dispute with a publisher about jacket art. The only one I was pleased with off the bat was <>Slow River<>. I’d been dreading another spaceship, or a bronze-bra’d amazon–so when I saw the cool white cover I was delighted.>>jennifer, I like both the US hardcover and the US trade paper, but don’t much care for the UK paperback. I love the Romanian cover, too, which you can see < HREF="http://www.nicolagriffith.com/images/riul.jpg" REL="nofollow">here<>.
Romanian? Wow, that’s a cool one.
Nicola, wow! I love your design. Sadly, out of the four, it’s the only one I haven’t had at one point or another. Hm… must find UK version of <>Ammonite<>. The last one, with the hazy woman, is a bit of a stretch, but I do like the way the softcover feels and reads. And I can see how it’d appeal to a slightly different audience than previous covers, which is always a welcome thing.>>I’m glad even the original spaceship-planet image sold so well. Sometimes great advertisement goes against our best aesthetic sense. Once, we were hired to shoot an ad for a furniture store that was famous for their tacky tv-spots. Well, they just asked us to do more of the same. We wanted to crawl under the rug, but hell, the client is the boss. And the tacky ads did sell. A lot.>>Linda, I agree that some book covers are more of a barrier than a hook. A friend told me she had to wrap some of the titles she uses in her class because the boys wouldn’t read them once they looked at the cover. Maybe you can ask your friend to make custom-covers for those books you “have” to read? I once did that for my wife. The book was great, but I thought the cover sucked. Later, she hid in a corner and carefully stripped off my collage and was sorry she did.
jennifer, yep, the Romanian one is cool. I felt very hip the day I saw it: I wrote that!>>karina, I like the idea of customising book jackets. Perhaps when Hild is done, we can have a competition to design a cool cover. Then I could take the best ones to the art director and see what he (and yes, mostly it’s a he) can be persuaded to incorporate.
Well, now that you mention it, I’ve been vaguely entertaining the idea that I would like to create a photo for the cover of Hild. And that a trip to Whitby would be in order for me to do that.>>Can you venture a rough guesstimate as to when I would need to have my photo ready for the contest?
Wow, that would be fabulous! Whitby will blow your mind. In some ways, it’s so tame and tidy and small–everything around there has been inhabited for thousands of years–and in others it feels quite wild, with a kind of rough magic that comes from so much history running through it. The moors. The Roman roads. The abbey. The Viking fishing villages. It’s incredible. And if you got, pop into Middle Earth for lunch and a pint. Drink one for me.>>As for when, well, I’m hoping to get a readable draft done by summer 2009. Then find an agent who loves it–and who can bend Art Directors to her will :) Submit to publishers in autumn. So…late summer?
Yeah, I’d love to experience all of that. That should give me time to figure out how to make that happen.>>The key would be to come up with something that is so good/effective the art director/marketing people would be eager to accept it.
Oh, yei! I get to play with Photoshop. Great idea, Nicola. It’ll be fun.
jennifer, karina, yep, I think it could be awesome. And it would help me so much to see different notions of readers’ thoughts on 7th C and Hild and Whitby etc.
What do you think of having the ruins at Whitby on the cover? Since they would obviosly not be in ruins during Hild’s time, should there be nothing in a cover photo that would indicate current time?
The current ruins date from the 14th C. Anachronistic. I’d rather see a wildscape–the cliff, the sea, the moor, something atmospheric–on the cover, with some kind of illuminated manuscript kind of border: brilliant colours, of course, lapis, garnet, gold. Something glowing and delicious.
Whitby sounds very interesting. Exactly the kind of adventure I like. In England in 2001 I just saw London and Windsor Castle. >>We could sponsor a Nicola Griffith Adventure Trip to Whitby and Beyond…>>I like the cover you designed the best, too. It would have grabbed me in the store. The only reason I bought Ammonite was because I liked the author. I probably wouldn’t have picked the book up in the store with the sheet lady on it. Covers do grab me. There are books I won’t even pick up if I don’t like the cover. >>duff
Do the covers you dislike have anything in common?
Hmm…Do the covers I like have something in common? Don’t know about that. But on the Ammonite covers, sheet lady was too light and seemed bland. Of the other two, the rocket ship colors were appealing, but the cover seemed too busy. Too much going on. The cover you designed appealed to me first because of the colors and then depth, and then the layout. >>One thing I learned in art school decades ago was the “squint tecnique.” :) Squint my eyes at a painting and see what happens with the colors and the movement. Did it grab me from the squint and if so what got my attention first. >>duff
Comments are closed.