How To Design A Crazy Book Cover

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As you know I am always harping on the importance of having a banging book cover. So I thought I would share with you the book cover evolution of my latest book How Laziness Saved My Life. It was a lot of frustration, disappointment and sleepless nights before we arrived at a working book cover. But the journey was worth it!

#1 The Safe Bet

This was the safe bet, the back-up as I would like to call it. It was an exact replica of the How Stupidity Saved My Life cover. Except that I somehow forgot to smile during the photoshoot. And I am glad I did forget, because if I didn’t I would have probably ended up using this cover. I even went as far as trying to convince the graphic designer to photoshop a smile into the picture (true story), but even she could not work that sort of miracle. I guess the moral of the story is to always say cheese…cheese…

#2 Going Cartoon Networky

So after finding out that the lean on words ideas above was destined for a colossal failure, I began pushing myself hard to find a different cover design concept. I knew I wanted the book to stand out on the book shelf, so I decided early on for some weird reason that my book cover was going to be yellow…not just any yellow…bright fluorescent yellow. I also wanted to showcase the fact that this book was different and that it had sketches in them. So utilizing the cover idea from IGNORE EVERYBODY by Hugh MacLeod I decided to draw a book cover…I began working on this cover design one Friday night. I did not finish till the next morning (mainly cause I could not get the right color of underwear). When I finished it, I sent it out to a bunch of people. The reaction was at best 50:50. People that liked it…loved it. And does that did not like it…hated it. The main complaint was that it made the book seem unserious and also (despite my poor attempts at concealing this fact) that it looked very simlar to what Hugh MacLeod would do. That promptly killed of that idea and put me back to the drawing board HP laptop.

#3 Yellow Fever

Still addicted to my love for yellow (oh did I mention that yellow is the most easy to spot color in the world, which is why Taxi Cabs are normally yellow!) I decided to tone down the sketch idea a bit and actually utilize an actual picture of myself. The picture was taken in Houston Texas by the talented JP. When we did the shot I did not have an idea how we were going to use it. I knew I wanted something to depict laziness, but the picture seemed too limited especially since the background was white. I tried various ideas but it just did not work, but while at work one day, I realized that if the background was made transparent I would be able to play with a variety of colors. This was a mighty Eureka moment and I rushed home during lunch to begin drafting my idea, that weekend I stayed up for 18 or so hours straight without showering working on the book design. The background color was off course a bright yellow (inspired by the book UNSTUCK)! The general consensus was that everyone loved the concept. What they did not like was the yellow…which ironically is what I loved the most. I was really frustrated at this time and I even thought about supporting Manchester United ignoring my instincts and just releasing the cover from concept #1 without the smile. That was about to happen until I got an email…

#4 Brown Paper Lunch

After much push back on the yellow cover idea. My brother sent me an email suggesting that I go back to the drawing board and come up with a completely different design. The whole point of this to me was simply to have a second option for people to look at. My whole goal was to design something that sucked so that people would pick the yellow cover. My subconscious inspiration for this next cover came from the book UNMARKETING. In that book a brown paper background was used. This was a sharp sharp contrast from the bright yellow I had been messing around with. I found a brown background on shutterstock that worked and of all the designs I had messed with, this one took the shortest time to complete. The final result actually impressed me, so much so that it became the final cover for the book. The funny thing is that my brother actually ended up hating this one! But hey…I love it.

Conclusion

What I learnt from this journey is the importance to seek and listen to people’s opinions. To keep pushing and pushing and to never be afraid to start from scratch. Hope you like the cover as much as I do and if you don’t at least you enjoyed a great COVER STORY.

Ofili

Author: Ofili

Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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13 comments on “How To Design A Crazy Book Cover

  1. I  really enjoyed reading that…must say, even though I like the final cover, I do like the yellow ones too (especially the second one). I see you still got to use a bit of yellow in the end though! Congrats!

    • lol…thanks Renny. The underwear cover was really my favorite, but it was too too similar to this cover http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lyzekrnAQg1qz6f9yo1_500.jpg so I had to ditch the idea…besides I don’t think Nigeria is ready to have underwear on their books =)

  2. The final pick looks good, but doesnt it matter much, as long as it looks good in your eyes.. And well, you can always save your yellow fever love for the next book…

  3. Aamassey on said:

    Here’s what I love about you: you are consistently dedicated to what you do. You find a “story” in what you do or find a way to learn a lesson and write a blog about it. Thank you for allowing us to go on this journey with you and learn a lesson about instinct vs. crowd opinion and how to find a healthy balance between the two. God bless and keep it coming.

  4. Anuli on said:

    I enjoyed reading this Ofili and laughed while reading. It is very refreshing sharing your success journey with truth and humour, while letting us know the amount of hardwork you put in. I am in the middle of deciding how to finish writing and designing a book cover as well as launch and market it with my husband and I am encouraged from this article to keep at it, source credible opinions and don’t stop till something gives. Thank you for sharing.

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