Evolution of a Cover

As many of you are aware, I’m about to release my first novel, The Artemis Effect, on an unsuspecting world. One of the many benefits of being an Indie author is the chance to be involved with the development of your own cover art, and I thought you might like to see how we got to the final version of the art for this novel.

I worked with Richard Morden of Mordenart, who is an illustrator of many years experience. He is the author of several books himself, and also an avid science fiction fan, so he seemed a terrific person to go to. Richard is also very friendly, should anyone else like to discuss their project with him!

Richard read the novel (not in it’s most final form, but pretty close) before starting any artwork. We then had a long and for me, quite difficult discussion on who we thought would be the target audience. It is actually surprising hard to narrow down from: Anyone who likes a good story, to specific target gender, age, and interests. As it’s quite a people-based story, we didn’t want to alienate readers who are shy of the ‘robots and spaceships’ type of science fiction, but at the same time, we did want to embrace the great history of sci-fi cover art. Considering the size of a Kindle screen, we also needed typography which was clear and yet arresting.

These are the first three sketches: all quite different. The circular features in each sketch are the Moon, which is a central theme in the book.

As the story is curiously structured with three separate and yet interlinked threads, I was quite taken by the first of these, as we could then have one of the main characters from each thread represented. I also loved the idea of a tag-line along the bottom of the page, which I hadn’t previously thought of including.

Richard and I are both members of Colourlovers, which is a site for people who perhaps obviously enough, love colour, and combining colours in new and interesting ways. I sent though a grab bag of swatches which I thought would work well with the audience and themes we had discussed, and these were used to inform the new revision of the design. There were quite a few, but here is a selection:

From here, Richard was able to take away the design to his lair and play with it for a while. When the first draft came back, I was pretty happy with it! I particularly love the texture he added to make it look more like old pulp fiction, which is apparently an image from an old hoarding. The three characters represented are Scott, in the middle, from Australia; Megan on the left, from Wales; and Kimberley, from Cleveland, Ohio. Apparently Kimberley is modeled on Halle Berry! This is actually very much in keeping with her character as a strong independent woman.

There was a bit of a hiatus in the process while the rest of the team messed about with final edits and proofreading, but finally we came back to Richard with some feedback along the lines of increasing the size of the figures, and also tweaking the colours a little. This is the final version – I hope you like it as much as I do! It also reads well in black and white, as although it will display in colour in iPads, of course Kindle is monochrome.

I’ve found the process quite fascinating, and I’ve been very lucky to work with someone so talented. A much, much better result than if I had tried to design it on my own.

20 thoughts on “Evolution of a Cover

  1. Wow, that looks great!

    I love that you shared the process with us. Personally, I really like that you included silhouettes of your characters and the burning city instead of something overly detailed. It adds a slick, stylistic look to it.

    If you don’t mind my asking, what’s the ballpark price of hiring a good cover artist?

    Thanks for sharing, and I’m getting excited for the release of The Artemis Effect!

    • Thanks Mike. The vector art was entirely Richard’s inspiration, so I can’t claim any credit for it, but I do like the way that it still gives readers the chance to interpret for themselves what the characters look like.

    • Thank you! Glad you like it.
      I suspect it was easier than usual working with an illustrator, as we have known each other for a while, so there was perhaps less to explain than if I had been working with a stranger.

  2. Looks fab! When I saw the first three sketched versions I right away was drawn to the first one, it intrigued me much more than the other two, so you made the right choice as far as I’m concerned.

  3. Cover looks fantastic. Great idea to walk us through the the design process. As an FYI (in response to the above comments) if you sell it on Amazon, they have something called kindlegraph which allows for a digital autograph to digital books.

  4. Wow – that looks great! I love the color choices – they go well with your background on this site too. Congratulations on your upcoming release – I can’t wait to read it!

    • Thanks Sheila! I hadn’t actually made the connection between the background on the blog, but you’re absolutely right. πŸ™‚ Must be something subconscious…

  5. Gorgeous! So interesting to see the artistic process and the results of a collaboration between writer and illustrator.

    Makes me want to read the book! πŸ™‚

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