The Spirit of the River (affiliate link) is a terrific novel by Diane McCarthy, published by her own Cloudland Press. I met Diane at an all-day publishing workshop run by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) where we are both members.
After I finished the book I decided to redesign the cover. Now this isn’t something I ordinarily do, but Diane had done an outstanding job of designing the interior herself, and the books were very nicely printed. But looking at the black and white cover, I felt it deserved something different. So I set to work.
The book is a thriller and a murder mystery that starts around a whitewater rafting camp in the Sierras. I wanted to capture both the river and the menace that gathers around the main characters as the story moves forward.
In the end I came up with four variations that I thought would work. Have a look:
The Covers for Spirit of the River
Here’s my first take on the cover. I liked this photo and tried to make it a bit more “thriller-esque” by darkening the water substantially.
I wanted to go in a completely different direction with the second, and got out an old favorite font that looks like a distressed typewriter type. It gives an edgy feeling to this ghosted shot of roiling water.
I really liked this photo of a river meandering away to an unknown destination in the distance, and added the dark gradient at the bottom for even more mystery. Unfortunately, I kept seeing the big space between the words “of” and “the” and it bothered me.
Here’s my last take on this cover. I went back to the image from the previous design, but reworked the typography. Looking at it now, I think the colors are a bit too festive for this design.
In the end I offered the designs to Diane should she ever reprint her book. Although it was only an exercise, I thoroughly enjoyed re-imagining the cover of a book I had enjoyed.
What do you think? Does one of these speak to you, or perhaps you have an idea that never occurred to me. I’d love to hear from you.