A lot can be learned about effective cover design - the kind that will grab attention from even the most distracted reader - by looking at how the well-known British poet Oscar Sparrow went about selecting a cover for his upcoming poetry anthology (6 poets, American and English, including...me, the only continental European! Bet you didn't know I write poetry!)
Consider the challenge: it's a double one. First the cover must reflect the depth and breadth of an anthology, always something difficult to express through a single image. Second, everybody knows that poetry is not a fast-selling genre and to zero in on an arresting poetic image is especially difficult. When was the last time you read a poem? Okay, I won't make you blush, we all have our small, private failings...
Let's return to the cover, here it is:
What do you think of it? I love it! I didn't design it - Oscar Sparrow did it with publisher Gallo Romano Media's expert support - so I feel quite entitled to give my opinion. Let me be clear: I had no say in its design, except for final approval which of course I was happy to give.
Now, why does this cover work? First, it goes beautifully with the title without however substituting it. Remember the first rule about effective design: either show the word with a picture or write it, don't do both! "Freeze Frame" as a title could have been rendered in a number of ways - including the film clip that was finally chosen. For example, a suggestive image reflecting the "Freeze Frame" poetry could probably have been selected. But how to accommodate the diverse style of each poet? A tall order!
The chosen solution is both economic and elegant. Just by glancing at the authors faces through the color filters, you visually and instantly get the message: this is going to be a book of poetry like no other, the authors are so different from one another! Three men, three women, six colors, six sensibilities, six totally different personalities...
Do share in the comments below your reaction to this cover. Does it work for you? Are you curious now about this book?
You are probably wondering about the title. It reflects what Oscar Sparrow sees as a trend in contemporary poetry...but that's for another blog post and I will leave him to explain it!
In the meantime, look for this anthology, it will be coming out soon in three versions: printed on paper (yes, the old-fashioned way), digital and audio.
Yes, audio! Each one of us recorded our poems, saying them the way we felt they should be said - poetry is music, it should be read aloud. Audio adds a dimension that otherwise would be lost. I can't wait to hear the other poets, I've always wondered how Byron read his poems, and Verlaine for that matter, or closer to us, Tolkien (yes, fiction writers do write poetry too, I'm far from being alone in this...) The audio aspect is truly innovative - and of course, only made possible by the on-going digital revolution.
The digital version should come out first and that will be on 21 December, just before Christmas - I will let you know when it does and where you can buy it...for a poetic Christmas by the fireplace, listening to the poets reading to you...
Oscar Sparrow ran interviews of each participating author, here they are, just click on the name:
Wondering about Oscar Sparrow, the anthology's Editor? Coming soon, this Wednesday, in an interview by Jo VonBargen, I will let you know!