Thursday, May 21, 2009

Something I Hadn't Even Considered

Well now. Now that I've got the contract, it turns out there is a whole new world of things I haven't even considered yet, so I'm going to send up a cry for help. And it boils down to two words:

Cover art.

I mean, really. All I was thinking of was writing something that looked vaguely like a book. Make sure the argument is there. Check the references. Satisfy the readers. But cover art? Furthest thing from my mind. But now it seems like I've got to think about it.

There seem to be two types of cover art for a book on some aspect of the Middle Ages: the photograph of some medieval-y building, or a manuscript illumination. My camera isn't good enough to take one of the former (my best work tends to be close-up details, but I suppose that I might -- MIGHT -- run across something on my trip). As for MS illuminations, I work with texty stuff, rather than pictures, so I haven't even been looking for these things.

Anybody out there had to deal with this? What were your best sources? Really, any and all suggestions are welcome, because I don't even know where to start. Oh, and just by the way, I'm going to be the one responsible for getting the permissions, so I'm looking for something relatively straightforward.

7 comments:

Bavardess said...

Hmmm - could you do something a bit more abstract/symbolic of your main thesis in the book or some of the central characteristics of what you're researching? You could try picking out some keywords that characterise your research area/subjects then plug them in somewhere like http://www.istockphoto.com/index.php and see what sorts of images come up. That might spark some ideas for your own photography.
I, for one, would love to see some books on medieval history that have something other than the standard church/castle/monastery on the front.

Janice said...

Getty Images? Stock Exchange? (The latter is SUPERB for finding stock images related to all sorts of buildings, people, concepts, etc., as well as linking you to contact form for permission of photographer.)

squadratomagico said...

A few bits of advice...

-If you do buy an image, some image venders will charge quite a lot more for the cover than for interior use. I ended up encountering this fee scale a couple of times (though the work I used on my cover ended up being my own photo, thankfully.)

-Despite the possible cost, I would look for something eye-catching and colorful. When my book came out, I cannot tell you how many people commented on my cover, and I had the distinct impression that some people bought it on that basis alone. It's silly, but a good cover can catch someone's eye and make them look inside.

Susan said...

I'm with Squadrato on the eye-catching. I'd say ARTSTOR. You can type in time period, location & subject, and they will come up with images. So you could get medieval markets, or courts, or tournaments...

Check the contract. I had to pay permissions for the art inside my book, but not the cover, which the press chose. Usually they will have a designer who helps you -- so it's good to have a bunch of suggestions.

Bavardess said...

Susan - thanks for the tip re: Artstor. I just checked the site and discovered my university is a participating institution. I had no idea.
Notorious - if you decide to go with a commercial stock supplier, check around a few different ones once you know what you want. I've used a number for corporate/ commercial publishing projects over the years, and discovered prices can vary A LOT.

rootlesscosmo said...

Could you put a notice on the Art Department bulletin board at Urban University, asking if any student might be interested in working on this? No money, but a credit line on the dust jacket and a resumé item.

Anonymous said...

You need to be careful on image sources, esp. including ArtStor. They treat use on for-profit items (books, e.g.) very differently from typical academic uses. Talk to your editor. You need more detail - are they planning a 4C cover? big image? small image? what's the trim? is there a series design the pic needs to fit into? Your editor should have info on these questions and much more. You're doing a lot of their work by providing the image; they can at least offer some help on these questions.