Beside the Music: Behind the Cover

In all this time it took me to write the book, I never really spent too much time imaging the cover.  I wanted to focus on the story.  Which I did.  I woke up in the middle of the night to ask myself whether what I was having my characters do made sense.  Then I woke up for other reasons.  Will the agent that requested the full manuscript like it and represent me?  (The answer was always no there.)  Then I would wake up in the middle of the night to mentally compose my dedication and acknowledgements.  That was the thing I was most excited about, getting to compose my dedication.  And no matter how many times I re-wrote it in my head I will never ever get that right.

But my cover didn’t really take up too many 2 AM wake up and ponder sessions.  Eventually it had to.  When Greg Simanson, my cover designer, got onto the job I was probably an enormous pain in his ass.  It’s hard to convey what you want your book cover to look like, when you’ve never really actually thought about it at all.  Most normal novelists can tell you exactly what they envision.  Not me.  Greg and I went through a few iterations.  I gave him a synopsis of what the book was about, he came back with some ideas.  The first round was a bit racy.  Too racy.  Like the kind of racy that immediately made me think “Are you insane, my Dad is going to see this.  My Dad!  He’s going to freak out if he thinks I wrote some erotic novel.”  (Which it’s totally not erotic, at all.  Dad, I don’t read those books, I swear.)

Then it happened.

Sometime in July, Todd and I had been talking about it.  The Director of Marketing from his office, Jeremy Girard, got involved too.  They convinced me to be absolutely sure about what I wanted it to look like.  Which was great advice.  But still, what did I want it to look like? Oh the agony!

Well, the story is about what happens when an 80s metal band moves in with a couple in a suburban home.  Todd and Jeremy talked about the clash of rock and roll chaos with suburban civility.  They envisioned a dinner table set with candles, wine glasses, and a guitar slashing through the scene to disturb what looked like a lovely dinner party.  I even bought silver candlesticks from to complete the scene.  I tried to shoot the scene in our dining room, but I wasn’t feeling it.

Then 2 AM happened.  I got the perfect idea.  My eyes were pinned open and refused to close again.  The next day after work I staged the picture on my own front door, I even draped my own black lace bra on the doorknob to complete the scene.  I texted a picture of it to my book manager, Amanda Gray.  She replied, “OMG!  YES!”  I got a similar response from Todd and Jeremy too.

I sent Greg my picture.  I am not such a great photographer, but he got the idea.  Big time  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my cover.  We’re looking at a release date of December 1st, 2015.    

I can't stop looking at it.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

added on 11.13.15

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