Picture this: At a convention, a prospective customer starts to walk by your book display, does a double-take when he/she sees your book cover, comes over, reads the blurb, and walks away book in hand, another satisfied customer. Improbable, you say? Not when you have terrific cover art.
We recently received a compliment on the artwork for the Cornerstones Trilogy. I don’t think I’m being smug by saying that I completely agree! Take a look at the Zellohar cover pictured here. Click on it for a larger image. Check out the detail in the structure of the keep, the tree tops in the foreground that give the perspective of standing in a valley, looking up at this edifice. I think it really adds to the story when you can, almost literally, stand in the characters’ shoes and see what they’re seeing.
Weapon of Flesh is a different take on story depiction by cover art, a metaphorical representation of Lad, the protagonist who has trained to be the greatest assassin alive. He needs no weapon—he is a weapon. Yet his expression clearly implies that there is more to this man than a ruthless killer. This cover alone has sold thousands of books for us at conventions and online.
So, where do you get great cover art? Chris was lucky—and foresighted—to have found the artist for our indie book covers on Elfwood, a website where sci fi/fantasy artists and authors post their work. Noah Stacey is the man, our own personal art god. Chris liked Noah’s artwork and asked if he did book covers. Noah said that he hadn’t, but was willing to try. So far, Noah has done six of our indie book covers. As his own career as a concept artist and film maker has taken off, he’s had less time to work on book covers. However, he has graciously consented to do the cover for Weapon of Blood, the sequel to our best-selling Weapon of Flesh. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with.
So, great artwork is essential, but there are additional considerations. Dragon Moon Press wanted the Scimitar Seas novels to stand apart from our other books, and Alex White came up with the beautiful stained-glass sailing ship motif for Scimitar Moon. The blue-hued background evokes the depths of the sea, appropriate for a nautically themed novel. The subsequent books in the series retain the ship motif, which ties them together. However, each book is distinguished by its thematic colors, as well as other content-related details (unfortunately, some of these details are on the back cover, invisible to those who purchase the ebooks). But there is no doubt that these books are a series.
Cover art also conveys the mood of the book. You wouldn’t want a picture of dark castle on the moors for your light romance, but it would be perfect for a Gothic mystery. Likewise, someone who picks up a book with a cover graced by a hunk with six-pack abs probably isn’t expecting to encounter a deep-space action adventure story inside. That’s why we went with something totally different (a little reference to Monty Python here) for the Cheese Runners Triology. Our friend Charles Crawford came up with the concept for the Cheese Runners cover, and an encounter at Mobicon convinced Chris that Bryan King was the artist to bring it to life. We love these covers—bright, kicky, comedic and irreverent—perfect for the books’ theme and writing style. Take-home message here: Make your cover relevant!
Chris will be doing a “Cover Art” panel at Con Carolinas (Charlotte, NC, May 31-June 2). It will be interesting to see what kind of discussions pop up. If you’ll be attending the con, stop by and talk with Chris after the panel.
Everyone has their own perspectives on cover art, not to mention their favorite book covers. Let us know what yours are!