Here it is! The product of our wondrous illustrator Daniel Becceril Urena’s creative furnace.
The was the most exciting cover voyage of the series. What made it different? Well, as Daniel’s skill and understanding of the project have increased, I’ve taken more of a back seat. I simply told Daniel the plot of the book and let him choose a selection of scenes that appealed and inspired a possible cover. He sent me no less than eight sketches. I was dazzled. The better Daniel gets, the harder it is to choose. In the end, there was a shortlist of three, but I had to sleep on it. In the morning, I knew. It had to be the one we’ve opted for.
Daniel got to work on the first level of tweaks. First level? Why couldn’t I just tell him all of them at once?
Have you ever tried on a suit in a shop? When you look at yourself in the mirror for the first time, you probably just want to see the effect of the outfit as a whole, an overview. That’s like level one. Say you like that. Now you start to look more closely, most likely at the jacket: level two. Then the details of the jacket, how it sits across the shoulders and so on. That’s level three. Then maybe you take off the jacket and look at the trousers or skirt. Is it the right length? Imagine it with different tops, different shoes.
So by the time you say, yes, this is the suit for me, you’ll have gone through a few layers of inspection. First, does it fit? Does it match other things in your wardrobe: like tops and shoes and scarves or ties? Is it appropriate for the occasions for which you want to wear it? Does it make you feel good? Do you love it?
It’s the same with a book cover. At each level of tweaks, you see more. In the case of a book in a series, does it have continuity with the other jackets? Is it a good match? Is it right for your genre? In other words, does it fit? The same ensemble that may look fabulous for dinner out or a party, may be too revealing for work. Again, it’s the same with the cover. It mustn’t reveal the plot, especially surprises. That might mean that a detail in a sketch you love needs to be left out.
What’s The Consistency?
Of course, we all have our own taste and style, a range of things that we feel confident wearing and know we can carry off. In illustration terms, we might call this artistic licence. Here’s an example. Amanda Cadabra and The Hidden Depths takes place in the winter. However, on the cover, Amanda is wearing a sleeveless dress. It isn’t that she doesn’t feel the cold! It’s for consistency with other covers. It might also appear that Amanda owns only one pair of earrings because the same ones are there in cover after cover. Well, the same reason applies.
Finally, there is the all-important criterion that guides one through the cover tweaks: how it feels. Every time Daniel sent me a new version, what was the effect emotionally? More and more, it was this: I felt like I was in love.
What It Takes
So it takes reasoning, feeling and hours of staring, and hence several tiers of adjustments that gradually became finer. Essentially, it takes a patient and skilful artist to know how to make the changes, send back the new version, receive the next lot of changes. Rinse and repeat. All with a deadline looming, as the manuscript is nearing completion and the marketing engine comes to life.
It takes an artist that you click with, who comes to know what you mean when you need an effect that you don’t know how to bring about, who loves the project, who loves the stories and the character and just ‘gets it’. I won the jackpot the day that Erik, my previous illustrator, introduced me to Daniel. Oh, and Daniel does all of this from the other side of the world, through lockdown and restrictions, and while doing post-graduate studies in art. I am sure there are many other authors who would happily create a Cover Illustrators Appreciation Day!
And There’s More
And so far, all you’ve seen is the front cover for the Kindle version. Soon the paperback will be available and you’ll be able to see the full effect in all its glory.
Meanwhile, next comes the trailer. Back soon to bring you a brief trip to the movies.