I just received my first cover sketch for Legend of the Spider-Prince: Rebel last night—and I just about spontaneously combusted from excitement. My cover artist, Kirsi Salonen, has had a lot on her plate, and I’ve been anxiously waiting for my turn—and now it’s here!
A cover is critical not only for the first impression it creates with the reader, but also for the role it plays in the life-cycle of a novel. Until there’s cover art, there’s no cover design. There aren’t many reviewers who want an eARC without a cover! The book cover also forms the centerpiece of my web site, provides the raw material to create a header element, and plays a role in promotional giveaways. There are timetables that hinge on the cover reveal—not just the lead time reviewers need for the release in October, but it also needs to be ready when I start my weekly release of chapters in July.
Now, to the uneducated eye, a first sketch is about as exciting as reading the first draft of a story—there’s still work to be done before it’s ready to be seen in public. I’m a better editor than I am a first-draft writer, so my excitement comes from having something tangible to work with, at last. I’ve seen Kirsi’s finished work, and I can see the promise shining through the sketch. Now, the challenge lies in finding the right words to steer the cover’s development to the effect I want. I’m more touchy-feely than visual, so it’s not like micromanaging the details so much as sharing a common vision, so I hope I’m up to the job. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but in this case, it may be more like 11K words—which is how many lead up to the cover’s image in the story.
I know in the traditionally-published world, something like this—being able to pick a cover artist and have a say in what my book looks like from its inception—is a rare privilege even for established authors, and it’s an even rarer privilege to work with an artist whose body of work already resonates with my story. I’m so excited!