How a Book Cover is Made

Today I’m pleased to welcome YA fantasy author Clare Davidson to Off the Page chatting about the cover of her new book, Trinity.

ClareClare Davidson is a character driven fantasy writer, teacher and mother, from the UK. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before
returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband and never left. They now share their lives with their young
daughter and a cranky grey cat, called Ash. Clare juggles family life with writing, teaching and a variety of fibre craft hobbies.

Website    Twitter    Facebook    Goodreads  

You’ve all heard the saying, “never judge a book by its cover” and yet that’s exactly what we all do as readers. I know I do. I’ll be browsing in a book store (generally in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi section) and a cover will catch my eye. Then I’ll read the blurb and if that grabs me, I’ll read the first couple of pages. We all do it, because we need some criteria to slim down the vast choice of books out there (and online, there’s even more). So, when I was getting close to releasing Trinity I knew I’d need a fantastic cover.

Nearly all the indie authors I knew had gone the stock photo manipulation route, either themselves or hiring someone to do it for them. There’s ups and downs to using stock photos. It can be a cheaper option when you’re working to a budge and it suits quite a few genres (generally contemporary ones). However, there’s a massive BUT coming… unless you buy exclusive rights to the photo (you don’t always have the option to do this and it’s expensive), you might just notice the same photo being used on someone else’s book. I’ve certainly seen the same image on books by different authors.

After much deliberation, I decided I wanted to use an illustrator to design my cover art. Except established illustrators are expensive and they won’t always give you permission to use the art for financial gain–pretty useless if you need cover art! I looked around the internet and found some amazing illustrators, but the costs were pretty depressing to be honest. I wasn’t convinced I wanted to spend more on the cover than on any other element of publishing, including editing! Then my friend and editor, Ruth Ellen Parlour, told me about an artist she’d discovered on DeviantArt, who does commissions as a way to improve his skills. I checked his page out ( and loved his work.

sketchThe problem was, I didn’t really know what I wanted the cover illustration to be! It had to involve fire and the banners of the trinity of gods, but beyond that I was clueless. So I sent the artist my book blurb, the extended synopsis, a description of Kiana and the links to half a dozen fantasy book covers I really liked. After a couple of days he sent me a preliminary sketch. Even the simple hand drawn sketch blew me away and I knew I’d end up with a beautiful cover.

It took several days to get to the finished product, but I was kept up to date with images at each stage of the process. I learnt some things about colour along the way. For example, I didn’t realise you’re supposed to work with the darker tones first and gradually get lighter (Kiana’s hair was brunette until the final stages!), to create tone and shade.

I was incredibly excited when the completed illustration popped into my inbox and ecstatic when I saw it, because it’s simply beautiful. I had a graphic designer friend add the text and the rest, as they say, is history.

trinity done

I’m curious, do you use covers to help you select books? What makes a book cover stand out?

website-fc-1400w‘Trinity’, released July 2012, is Clare Davidson’s debut novel. It is an epic fantasy, targeted at young adult readers, with strong crossover appeal into the adult market.

Kiana longs to walk through a forest and feel grass between her toes. But she is the living embodiment of a goddess and has enemies who wish to murder her. Her death will curse the whole of Gettryne. Locked away for protection, she dreams of freedom.

Her wish comes true in the worst possible way, when her home and defenders are destroyed.

Along with an inexperienced guard and a hunted outcast, Kiana flees the ravages of battle to search for a solution to the madness that has gripped Gettryne for a thousand years. Pursued by the vicious and unrelenting Wolves, their journey will take them far beyond their limits, to a secret that will shake the world.

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