Designing Sequels

Often times we as designers know well ahead of staring a cover whether there will be sequels or not. If the author has more than one story for a their characters they will most likely have ran that by their editor in advance. For us that means having in mind how the design can be altered for future books. Sometimes it’s enough to design a big series title and just switch out the image. But if a cover is too reliant on a graphic solution tightly knit to say, the title, it can be tricky to make a coherent follow-up. If the title is too different, too long, or worse, worse. Too often you see a trilogy with a great first cover, and gradually more forced sequels, emplying ideas that may never have seen light if it wasn’t for that first one.

Paper Aeroplanes

Other times not even the author knows there might be a sequel. Last year we published two critically acclaimed debuts, Dawn O’Porter’s Paper Aeroplanes and Katie Coyle’s Vivian Versus the Apocalypse. Two very different covers, one with an acquired photo from photographer John de Garis, and one with a fitting stock photograph I had the luck (and persistency) to find. At the time, no one knew how they would go down, nor what the authors might write next.


So when it was clear both stories were being continued we not only had to encapsulate the new book, but also keep them in line with its prequel. With Goose, O’Porter’s revisiting of Renee and Flo, it came naturally. The girls have aged, and as their aging and growing apart is a theme, Dawn and John went back to Guernsey with models Elise and Kelly, shot them against the same wall, but with their new attires and attitudes. Instead of the pink fluorescent ink, Art Director Jet chose orange, and voila.


For Vivian following the Apocalypse proved to be more of a challenge. The first cover ticked so many boxes it was hard to nailĀ Versus America in the same way, not being able to send a photographer to California. A lot of images were tried, and finally we landed on this one, having by far the most attitude, and as so happens shot by the same photographer and model. We did add a new palmy background, and changed the temperature radically, but whereas Dawn’s minimal covers link up down to the composition, Katie’s hopefully do so in treatment and a slightly less tangible attitude, all the while hinting at the progression between the books.


Goose is out now and you can buy it from our website. Vivian Versus America publishes in August.