Last week was a frantic one for me. Well…that’s barely an interesting statement, because all my weeks are frantic. So let’s focus on the particular theme that dominated last week’s frenzy:
Specifically cover art. I’m publishing two books on Tuesday–one of my own, and one of my friend’s that was hugely influential to me. There’s a lot riding on the success of these two books, and when last week started, I had no cover art for them at all.
That’s terrifying. Publishing a book is a different beast from writing a book, and within that process, the cover art is probably the most challenging element. It takes time. It takes skills that I don’t have. And to do it right, it really takes enough different skillsets that it usually requires coordination among several talented people.
In our organization, we usually have an “illustrator”–often a painter or a photographer–to make the beautiful background, and a “designer” to choose the crop, the title elements, the “trade dress” that turns a work of art into a book cover.
We’d planned to hire a somewhat famous professional cover artist for Courtney’s book, but over the course of May, that plan unraveled. Between problems with his availability and our business model, we had to abandon the partnership at the last moment. That left us scrambling to find a replacement who would not only do professional-quality work, but who could do it in three weeks.
In the end, the art we received was gorgeous, but our artist had to cancel or postpone a lot of existing work to meet our needs. (And we had to pay way more than we wanted to because of the rush.)
The Dragonprince’s heir
We hit similar problems with my own book. We’d made arrangement last December with the artist who’d done my previous covers–Courtney, as it happens–but between the demands of getting her book ready and other complications in her life, she wasn’t able to complete it.
She did a breathtaking landscape for me as a background, but she never made it to the foreground–adding Caleb and Taryn, who were supposed to be the main focus of the scene.
It was Tuesday when I received the digital copy of that painting. Tuesday…one week before the book was supposed to come out!
And the artist who made that beautiful painting for Courtney was all used up. Lucky for us, she was able to recommend some friends, and among them I found someone willing and able to do the work on such ridiculously short notice.
Oh, and he did ridiculously good work, too.
But the whole time I spent searching through these fantasy art galleries, looking at fan art from a hundred universes I’ve never heard of, I kept thinking how silly it was that I was working so hard to find someone who could do my stories justice.
I have thousands of fans devouring the series. Surely there’s someone among them with those same talents–someone who already knows these characters and the stories’ themes nearly as well as I do (and probably visualizes them even more vividly than I can).
Maybe it’s only because I got my start working in an artists’ cooperative, but I love the idea of using fan art for covers. That might be tricky for unreleased works, but one of the big advantages of digital publishing is that it’s cheap and easy to release new editions. If I had the art to use, I could put out new editions of Taming Fire with a featured-cover-of-the-month.
So consider that a standing offer. No, a plea! If you’re a fan, I’d love to see your art (whether or not you want to let me use it).
If you know an artist who might be interested, get them hooked on my books. We can make my job easier and make the World of the FirstKing a prettier place. What’s not to love?
And come back Tuesday. That’s when the magic happens.