With the cover of Hazelhearth Hires Heroes now public, I thought I’d share a few more images and a bit about the process. I’m a fan of huge fantasy panoramas, so even though hardcover books aren’t big sellers these days, I’ll always jump at the chance to have a masterpiece created. In this case, you’ll only ever see this lovely sunken temple panorama with the hardcover laid out flat. So I thought I’d share it in all its glory:
As an aside, if you’re an author, please do not take this as a tutorial for how to create a best-selling cover. A best-selling cover would incorporate extensive market research on trends in the genre. My goal was to create a cover that I personally loved which matches the tone of the book.
The process first begins with finding an artist. I’ll typically peruse ArtStation or DeviantArt, and go through 1000’s of illustrations looking for ones I like. When looking at artists, I’ll see how their style matches my own vision, if they have done the fantastical (for example, have they drawn fantasy creatures), have they done portraits, as well as landscapes, and finally what is their range of styles. I’ll make a list of artists that could work, and contact them to see if they’re interested in accepting commissions, and discussing what I have in mind.
My personal preference is to give an artist a lot of artistic freedom in creating images. For example, when creating characters for my novels, I tend to focus on a person’s personality traits rather than appearance, so I’ll typically have only a few rough parameters. For Hazelhearth Hires Heroes, Papaya was great to work with, and coincidentally most of her character portraits came pretty close to how I had envisioned them. One of the challenges for this project was Shin (the neko, or cat-person). He’s a cat person. So how much cat and how much person? Here is one of the earlier designs with him in a bit more animalistic form.
There were a number of predominant color schemes and backgrounds considered, such as this one in amber with a very dungeon-like feel to it. We finally settled on the current teal color scheme and sunken temple backdrop. Note as well the working title—the book may have been done, but I still hadn’t finalized either the title or the blurb at that point. One additional challenge was which characters could be fit onto the cover. This cover shows all five, plus Sally (Shin’s pet dinosaur), and as you can see, it’s a little too crowded. Some early sketches had as few as two characters. In the end I was happy Papaya was able to get all five in there without being too crowded.
Once the composition, characters and color scheme were finalized, there was the matter of typography—and in this case, Papaya came up with a hand-drawn font (I totally lucked out with her—she put a ton of care and love into this whole project.)
And that’s it in a nutshell. Hope you enjoyed the little look behind the scenes, and as always, feel free to ask me any questions.
Hazelhearth Hires Heroes will be released July 29, 2021. Preorders for ebook are live, preorders for paperback and hardcover will follow shortly. Or mark it on Goodreads.
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