Cover Stories: The Death by... series, by Linda Gerber

Linda Gerber's books are full of action and romance--I loved Death by Bikini (as noted here) and can't wait to read my new copy of Death by Latte. Death by Denim comes out in February.Now, as I've said repeatedly, I love holes in book covers. Seriously. LOVE. So this week's Cover Story with Linda is extra special, because she's got holes in her covers, and I had to find out how that happened. dbb.jpg Did you have an idea in mind for your cover as you were proposing/writing the book? If so, what did it look like? "For the first book, I had envisioned a kind of tropical, beachy theme, but hadn't thought much more specifically than that. For the other books - after seeing what had been done with DEATH BY BIKINI - which I loved - I just sat back and anticipated the surprise! "When I first saw the DEATH BY BIKINI cover, I literally bounced out of my chair with excitement. I couldn't believe that I had scored such an awesome design and a die-cut, step-back cover. (MW note: Yes! Die cuts rule!) And when Puffin sent me some mock-ups, I turned into one of those proud new-parent types, whipping out my killer cover to show off to anyone who wandered within bragging range!" Did your editor let you make comments/suggestions on the cover, if you wanted to? dbd.jpg "Yes. Each time, I received a jpeg of the preliminary cover and was asked for suggestions. I'm ashamed to say that with the DEATH BY DENIM cover, I wondered if perhaps the skirt image should be a little scruffier. Then I got the mock-up of that one and in "real life" with the die-cut pockets, I knew immediately that my scruffy vision wouldn't have looked half as fabulous. I'm glad to say that although the designers listened to my concerns and addressed them politely, they stuck to the original version - and it rocks!" How do you feel about your cover, in the end? "I am in love with, and am very proud of each one of the covers in this series!" Linda also talked to her cover designer, Theresa Evangelista, who added to Linda's cover story: "The Death by covers are the result of a great collaborative effort between our publisher, editor and design team. There was a lot of in-house excitement about the series and we knew we wanted a bold and graphic package that would stand out on bookshelves. So early on, we got the go ahead to think about using special production effects on the cover (eg. metallic printing, special inks, embossing... etc.). My art director suggested die-cutting and Angelle referenced the ubiquitous iPod print ads (dancing black sillos) to illustrate the edgy, yet fun tone she envisioned. We also knew the clever title(s) should be front and center since they could act as a consistent branding tool for the series. "I went to mock up some concepts for Bikini with these in mind. The beach setting and murder mystery plot conjured up images of old James Bond movies and pulp fiction novels, so this inspired the retro primary color scheme and halftone sunburst in the background. DBL1218.JPG "All of my concepts featured a prominent title treatment and a graphic bikini. The title treatment that served our needs was the one in which it formed the lines of the model's torso. (We also experimented with forming her limbs out of type with little success). The challenge was getting the murder-mystery element across (since "Death by Bikini" could also read as the title of a YA book for girls with body image issues ;o). We weren't going to feature a dead model strangled by her bikini on the cover, so this is where the tip-in page (behind the cover) helped dictate the design. Since the die-cut holes would reveal bits of the first page, we thought to feature a fun pattern on it which would read as the pattern on the bikini. At the time, skull motifs had been popping up on fashionable celebs and on high end apparel, and this ended up being the perfect pattern for our murder-mystery! And to take it a step further, we decided to mix in graphic symbols from the plot and teaser copy into the pattern. "These elements were (relatively) easily applied to books 2 and 3, culminating in the unique branding and look of the Death by series! Of the covers I've done to date, these are still my favorite and most fun to work on." Thank you, Linda and Theresa, for giving such great cover insights! Now I realize that die-cuts (that's fancy for "holes in cover") are an extra expense. One day, I'll write a book that begs for holes, just like Linda's fabulous series.