I was thrilled to hear from Keenan at www.fwis.com who recently posted this commentary about the HATER cover. I’d been meaning for some time to put together a piece about the genesis of the cover so here it is! Thanks again to www.fwis.com.
The cover of ‘Hater’ has always been a strong selling point. When I designed the original ‘Infected Books’ edition back in 2006, I knew that I wanted something that was visually striking, relevant to the novel and, perhaps most importantly, something that didn’t look like the cover of any other book already on the shelves.
The idea for deep red on a clear white background came quickly. I’m by no means an artist so taking this approach seemed to kill two birds with one stone – if it worked it would be fairly easy to produce and the simplicity would inevitably make it an eye-catching design. After briefly toying with a few concepts (such as the bloody handprint on the back cover of the original edition and the imprint of a blood-drenched face looking as if some poor soul had been smashed up against a window!), I settled on simply writing the word ‘Hater’ in blood.
To produce the original artwork, I went back to basics. It was early summer and my youngest daughter was painting. Struck by sudden inspiration, I selfishly grabbed some of her paints off her (she didn’t have any red, so I mixed brown and orange and yellow and whatever else I could find), made up a batch of ‘blood’, then stood out on the patio surrounded by sheets of paper making bloodspots and the like. She watched me with an uneasy mixture of fear and bemusement. I felt like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters, building a mountain out of mashed potato at the dinner table.
I dipped my finger in the paint and scrawled ‘HATER’ on a clean sheet. I liked it so I did it again. Then again. Then again. Half a ream of bloody Haters later and I decided that the very first one was the best. I dried it, scanned it, Photoshopped the colours to a more typically bloody red-brown, then created a composite using various other drips, dribbles and splashes of blood from my experiments on the patio.
The original paperback cover suffered from a poor choice of font for my name and too much white space. When the book was sold to Thomas Dunne Books, their art department worked for some time to come up with an alternative illustration, before settling on a touched-up version of my original design. They increased the proportions of the image to better fill the cover, and added my name and the words ‘a novel’ in a suitably bloody scrawl.
The book has since been sold to numerous other countries and it’s been interesting to see how each country has approached the design of the cover. Some, like Poland and the UK, have gone for variations on a theme.
The Spanish, German and French publishers have taken a completely different, but no less eye-catching, tack. The French edition in particular, with its use of an ‘interesting’ picture of yours truly, has become something of a talking point! With other countries including Brazil, Russia, Japan and Korea yet to unveil their editions of the book, I’m looking forward to seeing what their designers come up with!
The fact that the cover of ‘Hater’ has generated such a positive response is something I’m very proud of. Since the release of the book in February I’ve had many emails which have started along the lines of ‘I was in the bookstore today just browsing, when I saw the cover of your book on the shelf and had to pick it up…’. I’m also thrilled by the very positive comments posted in today’s article by the professional designers over at www.fwis.com. Perhaps my favourite feedback though, was from a post I found on a forum a while back. Someone admitted to having brought the book so they could carry it with them on the tube each day. They weren’t interested in reading it themselves, they just wanted to see the looks on other passengers’ faces when they saw the cover!