Designing the cover: Night Owls

Posted on 2nd September 2015 by Jonathan O'Brien
Designer Paul Coomey shares the evolution of the ten different proof covers he created for Jenn Bennett’s YA debut, Night Owls

I knew we had something special as soon as I started reading Jenn Bennett’s artsy, cool, YA novel, Night Owls. It follows the story of Jack and Beatrix who meet on the Owl – San Francisco’s night bus. Both protagonists are artists, though wildly different ones: Bex is fascinated by anatomy and wants to be a medical illustrator, while Jack is a street artist, spray-painting giant gold words across the city’s landmarks. When they meet, their worlds explode in the best possible way – and although they’re on a journey that neither of them is supposed to be, they might just end up exactly where they need to go.

The idea behind the ten different proof covers came from a collective ‘wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if’ moment when we were in the early stages of talking about Night Owls. The idea fits in well with the tale as Jack, our Vegetarian Vandal, spray-paints ten different words on various San Francisco landmarks (Bloom, Begin, Belong, Celebrate, Endure, Fly, Trust, Rise, Jump and Love). There was no legal way for us to match the scope of Jack’s ambitious creations in the story, so the images we produced were more like fan-art or scaled-down versions of the words that he sprays in San Francisco. That said, our interpretation of his birthday wish to Bex might be about right. The images were made using gold acrylic paint and card stencils, which were later retouched in Photoshop.

We were able to work with our production department to print a limited edition of book proofs with the ten different words, keeping the same colour palette as the amazing cover created by Leo Nickolls.

Liz Binks, Marketing & PR Manager, then used these ten different proof covers as a key part of her Night Owls campaign. She sent the proofs to bloggers and key influencers across the country with instructions to Tweet a photo of the tag on the front of the proof to @hashtagreads using the hashtag #NightOwls for the chance to win a Kindle Fire. This created huge word of mouth buzz and helped to give Night Owls the special attention it deserved.



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