‘I’m afraid we love your work but we’ve decided to…’

I like to post these occasionally – those pieces you’re pleased with but are strangled at birth, forever to languish in the archive! Most I can’t show – client or agency protocol prevents me from doing so (which is why you’ll never see the campaign I did for Tiffany the jewellers!)

Book covers however, of which I’ve now done over 120, are subject to so many layers of approval that even Time Team would sometimes have trouble excavating to the bottom. Covers are affected by the supermarket buyers, the editor, the art director, publisher and, on occasion, the author. I’ve done as many as 33 versions of a single cover. I’ve even done whole lectures based on this very subject! Here are a few juicy examples rescued from the dusty shelves, together with their individual Death Sentences.

‘We’ve Gone For A Font’:
This one we worked on for weeks only to have the whole thing swapped for a font and a figure of a girl. Nice colours but…shame eh?


In fact the font line is one I hear depressingly often. Oh, if I had a pound…here’s a classic example. This is a new book due out sometime next year in the US – and these were my offerings based very tightly on their brief. They’re a bit ‘old-school Mole’, but I enjoyed them nonetheless:


‘We’re Going In A Totally Different Direction’
Debbie Holt’s series is currently being repackaged. Her covers are currently very womanly and gentle, so this was an important update for her. Let’s see how the final books look – you never can predict! They won’t, however, look like this:


Under the category ‘We’re Going In A Photographic Direction’, are these. The Lonely Hearts Club was written by the publisher of the original Twilight books, and I was pleased with this cover for her, one of four versions. Below that is the actual cover they went with.


And finally for today’s batch, this one went on for months and there are 33 versions of this cover, done in three sessions over about four months. I like a lot of these – and it must be said the brief metamorphosised throughout – but it was with regret that the patient art director (usually the diplomatic go-between!) finally rang and said…’we’re going for a…’ – you guessed it!

Shown are three of the 33, and the published cover.




Books can be one of the most satisfying things to do, but also the most disheartening. The trick is to not take it personally and think of it as fresh art for the folio. Except when Sainsbury’s declare they won’t sell a book if it goes to press with your cover on it, and decide to suggest ‘their own ideas’…but that’s for another blog!


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