Sunday, 11 May 2014

Finding Inspiration For a Book Cover

In this blog, I have often talked about my desire to maintain a personal connection between my cover art and my stories. For my first 2 novels, The Outback and Stealing Asia, it was not difficult to find suitable pictures from my travels to use in the cover art as both novels were inspired by events from my backpacking days. For my third novel, Diamond Sky, finding a suitable image was a little more challenging.

In Diamond Sky, the setting and events are entirely fictional. The plot, which centres on astral projection and an exploration as to the existence of life beyond death, is purely abstract. When dealing with metaphysics, it is almost impossible to find a suitable image from the physical world that accurately depicts the story, least of all finding an image from my own collection. Whilst writing the novel, I thought I would have no choice other than to commission an illustrator or search through stock images linked to the sci-fi genre for my cover.

Then I came across the following picture. The image was captured when I travelled through the Kimberley region of North Western Australia, in a National Park known as the Bungle Bungles. It is one of the most unique, beautiful and isolated places in this incredibly diverse country.


It was not, however, the terrain that inspired me with this picture. It was the sun. If you look closely at the centre of the image, you can see a column of light that intersects diagonally with the bright spot in the middle. It does not so much look like the sun is setting as that it is being launched. Fired into the sky. This was the other-worldly image I had been looking for.

When designing my covers, I try to keep things as simple as possible. Diamond Sky is no different. The only manipulation I applied to the image was a colour tint and a slight darkening of the edges. I then overlayed the text onto this simple base, making sure to retain consistency with my previous novels in the way I presented my name. I then added a short tag line, "letting go is never easy..." that captures the motivation, which drives the actions of the main characters in the plot. What I like about this line is that, depending on the character, it can be taken either literally or figuratively. To say anymore would risk a spoiler.


Above is the final cover, complete with other-worldly source of light illuminating the night sky. With 2 sequels on the way and an increasingly fantastic plot, it is becoming unlikely that I will be able to continue using my own photographs on the covers, but I will certainly try. Selling books may be a business, but the product is still a form of art. In a world where corporate influence is de-personalising and lowering quality in all areas of commerce, rather than emulate that model, I will continue to fight it. To retain what makes me unique as an artist, because without that, I cannot rightfully call myself an artist anyway.

Finally, here are my 3 self made covers side by side as they would appear on a digital bookshelf. With each one incorporating the same amount and style of manipulation in design, they are clearly part of the same brand though not related in story. Most importantly to me, they are all uniquely mine.



If you found this post interesting, why not sign up to join my blog using one of the tools on the sidebar to the right. You can also check out my two self published novels The Outback and Stealing Asia. Both are available as ebooks and paperbacks.

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