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How did you get into cover designing?
By accident. I discovered when I signed a contract for Slide, that despite Dreamspinner’s trailblazing art department, I’m somewhat of a control freak. I couldn’t sleep at night for the fear they’d get Ash & Pete wrong, so I decided to be proactive and figure it out myself. Luckily, I was already pretty well-versed in Photoshop and typography.
You write as well as design covers. Do you design your own covers? When you don’t, are you tempted to?
I do all my own covers. The only one I haven’t done so far is More than Life, and the design used is pretty much a carbon copy of what I drafted when I thought I was going to do it myself.
I can’t imagine not doing my own covers, but I’m sure the time will come when I can’t/won’t/don’t. Good cover design is far more involved than it might appear, and I reckon the day will come when I’m simply too close to a book to get it right.
In fact, I reckon that day probably isn’t that far away.
What’s your favorite cover you’ve designed?
At the moment, Return on Investment, by Aleksandr Voinov has pride of place in my portfolio, but keep an eye on S.A. McAuley and L.A. Witt this year. I’ve done some work for them I can’t wait for you to see.
What’s your favorite cover someone else has designed?
Anything by Damonza. If I ever paid an artist to design for me, it would be him.
Where do you find your stock photos for covers?
All over the show, but, as I pointed out to one of my favourite stars just yesterday, there is a serious shortage of gay stock footage. Every day, I see complaints that the same old blokes are popping up on every book. Well, there’s a reason for that…they’re the only bloody blokes out there!
For me, the answer to that has been to move toward more artistic, symbolic covers, which, considering Amazon’s ever changing guidelines, is probably something all artists will have to do at some point.
Besides, I’m at a point now when I want to see something more than sweaty, gritty, man titty.
What’s your favorite font?
Lordy, lord. Don’t get me started on fonts. Clean and simple, people…clean and simple. It doesn’t matter if that swirly, distressed font would look great on a tattoo, on a book it’s gonna look SHIT.
With the rise of ebooks, remember that most folk will only see your book cover once…in thumbnail, on Amazon, so your cover that looks intricately beautiful blown up on your iMac, is going to disappear in a swirly mess on the crappy screen of someone’s dodgy old kindle.
Impact. Franchise. League Gothic. Baskerville. Trajan Pro.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Are you as sensitive to feedback on you cover designs as you might be on your writing?
No. If I’m designing for a publishing house, I design to their brand, as well as the cover spec from the author. With so many variables, there’s always going to be a certain amount of negotiating. At the end of the day, it’s not my book, and as long as I produce a cover that’s artistically sound, I’m good. I have been known to argue the toss… “Can you make that green…NO…why not…because it’ll look like a frog shat on it…” but that’s an artist’s prerogative, right?
How important do YOU think a cover is to selling a book?
Monumentally important. I dread to think how many wonderful books I’ve passed over because the covers were either terrible, or so plain I never noticed them.
Equally, I’m haunted by the number of books I’ve one-clicked based on a cracking cover, only to find the book is a steaming pile of donkey bollocks.
Where to find cover art by Garrett Leigh…