About the A Sense of Duty CoverIt's critical when making a book cover that it work well both in large full size and in thumbnail size. That way readers who see it online - and readers who see it on a shelf - are drawn in to learn more about it.
When I first started working on A Sense of Duty, I was planning on getting my books published by a large publisher. So covers I created were for my own use. The images were solely for my own copies I printed to help me review the text more easily. These covers involved me as the image, and a photo I took as the background.
I adored the background I used for A Sense of Duty. This photograph was taken in Rhode Island, but it seemed to match well the beautiful ocean feel for a coastline in England. I loved the layers of clouds, the colors, and the heroine looking off into the distance.
A problem, though, was that the heroine had tawny hair and mine is dark. So I had to wear a hair cover to take that into account. Also, as much as I adore that Rhode Island landscape, it's not England. I am a stickler for detail.
When I decided to self publish, I decided using myself as a model just wasn't a good long term solution. Clearly my hair is only one color :) Also, I was going to cut my hair to donate to charity, so it would no longer be waist length for each subsequent book cover. Therefore I turned to my friend Debi to create iconic images for each book instead. We went through the first round of effort with the book I was going to release first, Seeking the Truth. So by the time that first book's cover was designed, we had the basic layout - the stone background, the central ring design, and the bottom attribution area.
So when we talked about designing A Sense of Duty second, she needed to know what the image would be here. I explained how a dragon medallion was the central image in the story. The medallion is described in detail several times during the movel, with the dragon's sense of protective peace and its curling smoke.
Here was Debi's first take on the dragon -
I loved the color theme and the way the dragon looked to be made of stained glass. To my eye, this dragon was a bit too "aggressive" - I was looking for something more restful and peaceful. We discussed ideas for the dragon, and soon she came back with a second version for me to look at.
This was much closer! The dragon was a guardian dragon, protective, attentive, aware and caring. I loved the colors and the layout of the body. Now it was about tweaking it so it worked well in both large book cover size and also smaller thumbnail size. The image had to be instantly recognizable even in the small thumbnails that are often found on sales sites.
We went back and forth about how to fit a full dragon within the space available, how to get the smoke to look exactly the way I'd described in the book, and how to tweak slight details of the claws and head to emphasize the attributes I was looking for. Debi was extremely patient with me as I examined every fine detail of my dragon. I wanted the dragon to be exactly perfect since it was so integral to the storyline!
Debi created the perfect dragon that related all of my desired emotions in the small space available, and here is the final version!
Again Debi's artistic skills are phenomenal. The dragon presents an aura of both calmness and alertness. She is quitely breathing spirals of smoke which perfectly reflect the image I had for them.
There's an intriguing note about the dragon's direction. In the novel, Constance wears a dragon medallion and that dragon looks to the right. That is, when Constance wears the dragon on her chest, the dragon stares towards Constance's right hand side. I considered therefore that the dragon on the book cover, if it was going to represent the medallion lying on a table, should therefore be looking towards the left hand side of the page - i.e. towards the spine of the book. However, Constance never took her medallion off. She would never see it like that. She would only ever see it in a mirror, and in that mirror she would see it as represented on the book cover. Since all of the covers represent the heroine, and represent the world from her point of view, I wanted this to show what the heroine thought of the dragon. This is the view of the medallion that Constance would know and remember.
Here's the full wraparound version of the cover.
After we finished working on the cover for this novel, we moved on to create the cover for Knowing Yourself.
I highly recommend Debi for any graphic projects you might have! GardinerDesign.com
Creating Medieval Romance Novel Covers
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