Old adages hold that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Shouldn’t—but the simple fact is, most of the world does.
The cover art of a book, like a title, provides the first impression of a work for passing readers’ eyes. Ideally, you want them to sing a sort of siren’s tune for anyone with an interest in your genre. Either it hooks, or lets them go. As such, covers require as much care and craft as the book itself. Finding a match between artist and writer is key—especially at a time when so many just turn to “stock images” for ease, and to help get their words out to the world all the quicker. Cost efficient, perhaps, but terribly impractical on the originality front.
More to the point, it occurred to me the other night, amidst a flurry of snowy imagery, that for all the introductions to my book, one key detail I’ve left out to date is the identity of my cover artist. Well, I’ve given credit where credit’s due on the cartography front, so I don’t think it’s too big a shift of gears now to take us into the artistic fore.
We are presently proceeding through the draft stage of the picture process for the novel—the snowy flurry I mentioned actually solidifying in the form of 9 lovely “roughs” one Matthew Watts struck up for me several days ago.
Watts is a talented artist from the UK. He actually runs a little blogger site to host some of his works, usually in the earlier stages of drafting. Lot of dark work, lots of grit—a perfect fit, I do believe, for this dark little spot of fantasy I’ve crafted. (And to give you an idea of his talent, I offer up this particular bit of landscaping for your viewing pleasure: http://matthewwattsart.blogspot.com/2011/10/15min-sketch.html Please note that particular picture is what he can do in about 15 minutes—a sketch, and a bloody fine one I do believe).
Many great cover artists applied, and truly it elated me to see such a kind and extensive list of willing applicants, but the stars aligned with Watts, and all the pieces fell into place. Now he’s working on a bit of wintry goodness for me, given that “The Hollow March” (spoilers!) will be largely encased in ice. Alright, so that wasn’t much of a spoiler, but hey, it made you jump didn’t it? Anyway, after a good bit of time spent pondering over the options, it looks like everything’s really coming together well. We have down which characters we want to use, and the generalities of scene structure.
In other words, the field has been narrowed and now I’m anxiously awaiting the next stage in the pictures’ development.
While I’m not going to showcase all the choices (or which ones quirked my eyebrows best), I figure it’s only fair to give you a little sample of possibility, so here’s just a few of the drawings Matt sent me, with a reminder-proviso that these are merely the rough sketches. Detail, color…these things come later.
What do you think?