Back in 2017 I was the feature artist for Booklife’s “Cover Redesign” feature which was printed in the monthly Booklife edition in Publisher’s Weekly magazine. The first redesign I designed for this column was Dog Sitters by Rozsa Gaston.
Book description: When their friends take a cruise to Bermuda, strangers Hint Daniels and Jack Whitby are charged with looking after their dog. Then everything starts to go wrong . . .
In the leafy New York suburb of Bronxville, Hint is supposed to hand Percy off to Jack on day five of the ten days their friends are away. But at the handoff, the dog ends up running away. Neither is willing to tell their friends the bad news that Percy is missing. Instead, they spend five frantic days desperately searching for the Schnoodle, with wildly different ideas on how to go about it. Between Jack’s heavy-handed approach and Hint’s otherworldly style, their personalities clash. Before long they’re bickering furiously, even as romantic sparks fly.
Will Percy show up before his owners do? And what surprising discovery will Hint and Jack make while looking for him?
Laugh out loud at the heart-pounding misadventures of Hint and Jack as they search for the world’s most adorable lost dog.
Here are the two covers side-by-side.
Focal points and eye movement are two important aspects to any book cover design and tend to go hand in hand. One common mistake is, if you emphasize everything in a design, nothing stands out. Emphasis is relative because for one element to stand out, another must serve as a background. Therefore, some elements need to dominate others to create hierarchy within the design.
In the original design for Dog Sitters, the title, couple, dog, and even the tree are about the same size. There is no dominant focal point, causing the elements to compete for our attention. The only real movement in the design is the couple pointing, and that draws your eye off the cover completely which is typically not what you want. The bottom half of the cover all blends together due to using the same coloring. One rookie mistake is to use a drop shadow behind the text to help it stand out. There are some instances a drop shadow works to the advantage of the design, but this was not one of them. Something the cover does have going for it, is the happy couple eludes to the tone and genre of the story.
In the redesign, the title became the dominant focal point. The line that extends off the “s” draws your eye down to the subtitle, silhouettes, and author name. The movement within the silhouettes help draw your eye back up to the title, sky, and review quote, keeping your eye on the cover the entire time. By varying the sizes of the different elements, they no longer compete for our attention giving the design a nice hierarchy. The contrast between the blue sky and white title not only make it readable at thumbnail size, but eye-catching as well.
What Rozsa Gaston said back in 2017:
Deborah Bradseth’s new cover for my book Dog Sitters is a home run. She captures the interconnectedness of the story’s three main characters: a man, a woman, and a dog. The title conveys the playful tone of the book. And the stars and fireflies add allure to the excitement of new romance captured on the cover.
Bradseth captured every idea I suggested for the new cover. I asked for silhouettes instead of stock photo images. She delivered. I wanted the couple in a park at night with the dog next to them. She delivered it. I asked for the dog to interact with the couple. She came up with a jumping dog instead of a sitting one.
Deborah was fast to turn things around, responsive, and clear when she disagreed with something I suggested. She explained her rationale for every image placement and every text font. She was easy to work with and delivered professional results. Without question, I will use her for my next book, if she’s available.
The new Dog Sitters cover gives readers an exact idea of the story they’ll find inside: total escape, a few laughs, and a heartwarming romance that comes about when two people search together for a lost dog. Thank you to Deborah Bradseth at Tugboat Design and BookLife for bringing alive Dog Sitters with a knockout cover design.
Dog Sitters by Rozsa Gaston is available on Amazon.
You can see the original online article here, or I’ve included the print version below.