Wool Gets a Fancy New Jacket

Ladies and gentlemen, the new face of WOOL:

Now, I’ve spent a solid five years of my life as a bookseller, staring at and judging jacket art all day long. I’ve spent thirty years reading voraciously. And in all that time, I’ve never seen a cover like this anywhere. Never. Do you know how difficult it is to stand out and be unique? Well, Random House UK has managed to achieve that. I love this cover. I think it is absolutely brilliant. And the longer you stare at it, the more you realize there could be no other cover for the hardback release. It is bleak and powerful. It is both iconic and timeless. This cover will be recognizable from a distance. Like the title, it raises questions and piques curiosity. It demands to be handled, but perhaps carefully. Warily.

Random House UK also has a few tricks up its sleeve with the fabrication. They are going with a matte finish, which I think is brilliant. Gloss and post-apocalyptica do not mix. There will also be some raised features, which I’ve always loved on quality hardbacks. This will be a treasure to own. I’m speaking for myself, here. Holding this will likely move me to tears. I couldn’t be happier with the design, not one bit.

I immediately wanted to know the process behind this, the committee, how such things are done. I’ve long created my own covers with almost no direction or help (though my wife is a fine hand and foot model!). Who came up with this, and what were they thinking?

I asked Jack Fogg, my editor, some of these questions. He said it was the vision of one of their artists, Jason Smith, and that even though this was one of several mock-ups, everyone loved it straight away. I wondered if I could email Jason and thank him. Jack welcomed the idea.

In chatting back and forth with Jason, I found out what his inspiration was. Jason read WOOL as it made the rounds of Random House (even people who weren’t supposed to be reading it were picking it up). He loved the story so much that he asked if he could be attached to the project. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the sort of people you want involved with your work. Jason brought the same sort of passion, as a fan, that so many of you have brought to this series. And there was this feeling, this particular mood that he wanted to capture with the cover. He couldn’t stop thinking about one particular fiery ordeal in the silo’s airlock. And so he came up with the bubbled glass and the red flames, the feeling of a thing melting down, of a dire view through an airlock porthole or even through the wallscreens at something at once terrible and compelling.

This cover frightens me. It moves me. I can’t wait to see it wrapped around the story, to hold it in my hands. In fact, it’s just about perfect. Maybe there’s one little thing missing, a final touch, the cherry on top. I think I know what that is.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow, another big surprise, a way for you to help, and a way for you to win something truly marvelous.

24 responses to “Wool Gets a Fancy New Jacket”

  1. I see where he was going with that, but it just looks like a volcanic eruption to me…not really anything to do with wool, the series. Not that i could have done better, and it certainly WILL stand out.

    1. I too thought of a volcano when I first saw the cover. I know it’s meant to convey the sense of destruction that happened that put everyone into the silos. But it still looks like a natural disaster more so then a man made disaster.

  2. Breathtaking! Congrats Hugh!

  3. I bought the book on Kindle & then saw the signed paperbacks… had to buy one. I saw the proofs & was sad I couldn’t afford the ones on eBay anymore… Now this… I’m wondering how many copies of this book I am going to find myself wanting to compulsively buy. It looks awesome. Congratulations!

    1. There are worse addictions! ;)

  4. Cover looks very nice, and I second that it stands out enough to be noticed by crowd. To me it looks like it represents something very “intense” – just like the story behind it… but I don’t quite see direct cover relation to the story itself (besides mood they both share that is). I will have to read “WOOL” one more time to come up with better interpretations :) but right now, yeah, it looks like a volcanic eruption caught in a glass that could better match a book about volcanology from the “National Geographic”.
    This cover also got me wondering, what kind of control author has over the choosing of cover, before book goes to print. Must he/she approve it first? Or is it publisher who decides this sort of thing?

    1. The publisher does it all. I’m sure the author could object to a horrid cover, but I don’t think they’d have any power to change it. It’s fortunate when you just love what they give you.

      1. I emphasize that part about love. And despite differences in opinions of some of the readers about the cover, I wish the best success for the “WOOL” series, because the story you gave birth to just screams for more attention – for it is so good! :)

  5. Personally I happen to prefer Mike Tabor’s cover… but this is also awesome, and it definitely stands out even at a distance, so I admit it’s probably better for attracting attention and selling physical copies.

    I have a feeling that when this thing hits the shelves, Hugh’s world is going to turn upside down. The virus will start in the UK, but within weeks there won’t be anyone in the English-speaking world who doesn’t know about WOOL.

  6. Yeah, no offence to the dude who made this, it looks cool and all… but, ummm, how to say this delicately, hmmm… well, lets put it this way, I had to actually read the blog post before I had any clue what was going on… I just finished a photography course at TAFE (as an aside to my Programming one) and this looks like the splash photography we were doing…
    Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to sound like an ass or put down anyone’s creative licence or anything… But honestly, personally and I do mean in my own opinion and at the end of the day, if it works for you, it is your book, your message and all, this does not resonate what I know as Wool.

    Now I have to make my self clear on this, cos crapping on someone else’s hard work is a dickish move that I do not condone… And I don’t want to say I don’t like it… it’s just, (Now I am repeating my self in hopes that one part of this reply will come out sounding how I want it to and not as someone who does as I mentioned at the start of this paragraph) honestly I have to agree with the people above about the volcano thing… just less volcanic and more red coloured water…

    Sorry… Really I truly am… but I have to be honest on this one.

  7. William Jacques Avatar
    William Jacques

    Too me, any cover or visual adaptation concerning WOOL has very high bars to jump over. (Although I believe Mike Tabor has come the closest with his helmeted portrayal of Jules.) I now absolutely love the iZ cover but, perhaps after I read the literary product, my new iZ cover art romance may end.

    1. The one with Jules on the right hand side was done by Jasper Schreurs, actually. The Tabor cover has Wool in the center with the hills beneath. But Mike has also done a helmeted Jules underwater.

      It’s a lot to keep track of, admittedly. :D

  8. I feel compelled to tell you I mostly agree with the earlier comments. I think I’ve seen your old cover so often that I identify Wool with that piece of art, so introducing a new piece of art requires loyal readers to change their imagery after they have already made a connection. Change is hard! Perhaps you will find new UK readers will identify easier with this piece of art and also interpret your work differently based upon it? It would be an interesting study – the impact on a cover to change the perspective of a reader’s interpretation of a story. I don’t have the same strong connection with fire and the storyline and instead I have a much stronger vision of an actual silo that I have imagined many times over. That being said, I love your writing and since I am currently living in Europe, if I see this new cover in a bookstore, I may just pick it up anyway since I only have the Kindle edition!

    1. Hey, it’s like Facebook. You hate the change until there’s a new change, and then you resist changing from the change you previously hated. :)

  9. Is that Helvetica? Everything looks better with Helvetica.

    I agree it’s difficult to go from the very literal (and excellent) Mike Tabor cover to this very sophisticated and artistic cover that feels much more like something a major publisher would produce. Both are excellent works of art in their own right and both make fantastic covers. Anything perceived as a “change” to something we love will feel awkward at first but that doesn’t necessarily make it “bad.” At the end of the day, if it brings more readers in to the fold it makes me happy.

  10. Nice, but what you really need is to get some dexterous ladies to knit the covers – maybe for the collector’s edition?

    1. Ain’t just the ladies who knit… And don’t forget crochet!

  11. Like a lot of covers, I’ve given up expecting them to have anything to do with the story and resigned to thinking they’re just wrapping paper to get people’s attention. If people can put flashing animated gifs on physical books, I bet they would.

    Having said that, my first reaction was APOCALYPSE, which sort of works, since there was one in the story, technically.

  12. Feel free to visit the forum and share your opinion–we’re running a poll!

  13. Love it. Absolutely love it. Can’t wait to hold it in my hands! (Cause I’m reading the one with the old cover.)

  14. Oh my gosh… I don’t see volcano, I see ART. The cover is amazing! It’s beautiful and violent all at once. And then to top it off it plays perfectly against wool, something soft and innocent. It makes me want to pick the book up and see what it’s about. I love it.

  15. I’m glad you really like the cover Hugh. I’m not really into it. Good thing I don’t live in the UK :D

    To me, this cover looks like it was designed by someone that wasn’t told a single detail about the book. If i saw that cover in a store, I would instantly think it was a typical horror book.

    To me it really lacks anything relevant to WOOL, and doesn’t really depict the story in any way. It really seems like a horror cover. I hope it doesn’t deter any potential readers, because seriously, this cover seems as poorly matched as say, The Shinning having cartoon characters and smiley faces for a cover.


    I’m glad you like it, and who am I to say anything about it? I don’t know what I’m talking about, I just think it’s a very poor match for the story, and the genre in general. But, congrats anyway in all the awesome things happening with WOOL :D

  16. It’s a very pretty cover, but it’s not “Wool.” Looks like the editor gave a relative some work and that relative didn’t read the book.

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