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What Do You Want From Your Cover?

Cesca Major

Writer Cesca Major's debut novel, The Silent Hours, will be published in June 2015. Here, she shares her experience of being published - specifically, how a cover is designed and chosen for your book; and the anticipation of the 'big reveal'. 

You’ve got your book deal, you’re working through your edits, people are having meetings about your little book, that Word document you’ve been working on. They are packaging it up to be sold and one of the most important elements of this process is the cover design. There are so many fabulous, iconic designs out there and some become as distinctive as famous posters and album covers. So what do you want from your cover? I am in the midst of this process. The Silent Hours is out in June this year and the other day I was sent a draft of the cover.

The Silent Hours is a commercial read so I knew I wanted it to be instantly recognisable as being similar to other books in the same genre. In this case, it needed to look like a book set during the Second World War, so perhaps rather nostalgic in feel, and it needed to appeal to the upmarket women’s market, or ‘Book Club’ group. I’m sure other authors would want something entirely unique, and perhaps literary books can get away with this more, but I think for commercial fiction it can be a real risk. 

As much as we would all love to pretend the cover has nothing to do with it, there are so many books out there and some designs help signal to the reader that the book in their hands might be similar to another book they enjoyed. I have no problem with that idea; as someone who relies on reviews, recommendations and all sorts, I know I don’t go on cover alone but sometimes, standing in a bookshop, it is helpful to have a steer on something.

Vanessa Lafaye, author of celebrated debut Summertime said, “There were 3 things which mattered to me: the period, the setting, and a feeling of foreboding. I had in my head an image like a vintage post card, with faded colours and a typeface that would signal the period.” She was incredibly pleased with the outcome stating that, “The colours are beautiful, the image is intriguing, and the font signals that it's historical.” Kate Riordan, another debut author (The Girl in the Photograph) also knew she needed it grounded in the past but didn’t have a specific image in her mind, “It’s set in the 1890s and the 1930s so I knew I wanted the cover to reflect that in some way.”

Emma Kavanagh’s debt novel ‘Falling’, a psychological thriller, was out last year and reached no 35 in the Amazon Book Chart. She certainly thought long and hard about the cover. “I obsessed over my imagined cover of Falling. I possibly (definitely) thought more about that than what my baby would look like. I even sketched out an idea of what I would design if I were the cover designer. That's a little embarrassing to admit!” Unlike Kate who said, “to be honest, I was so busy worrying about whether it would be published at all that the idea of a cover seemed like the icing on the cake a lot further down the line.” Both authors were asked their opinions (tragically Kavanagh didn’t send in the sketch!) but both were really pleased with the in-house team and trusted they’d get it right. Riordan summed it up nicely, “the publication of a novel is a team exercise and, ultimately, while I might be able to string a sentence together, I'm no designer.”

All the authors named above were pleased with the outcome. In fact Kavanagh commented that hers, “was almost identical to the sketch I had done. I was ecstatic!” In my opinion, all these covers work brilliantly well and I would certainly be proud to have them on my shelves. So what of mine?

Well it was with some trepidation that I opened up the email attachment from Corvus entitled, ‘The Silent Hours: Draft Cover’…

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major

You can watch my reaction to it here as I vlogged it! 

Lastly, you can see the cover in all its glory above. I really hope you like it! 

After studying History at Bristol University, Cesca went on to work as a TV Presenter for four years on various pre-recorded and live shows. She taught History for seven years and became a Housemistress at a Secondary boarding School in Berkshire.

Since winning a writing competition for the best opening paragraph to a novel, Cesca has won or been placed in prestigious short story competitions for: Women and Home, Wells Festival of Literature, Grace Dieu and has also had short stories published in the Sentinel Champion and Sunday People Magazine.

She has written regular reviews and features for the popular women’s fiction website Novelicious and now films weekly vlogs to help wannabe writers for She lives in Bradfield with her husband and their brood of ex-battery chickens.

The Silent Hours is her first novel.