Saturday, 8 March 2014

The Great Cover Hunt

Limestone Cliffs of Malta

I've been cover-photo hunting. My two main sources are the Royalty Free site, Dreamstime, and my own photo files - of which I have far too many. This is the woman who, on her first visit to Malta, took a sea cruise around the island and photographed three-quarters of the coastline. If my new camera's battery hadn't run out, I'd've recorded the whole of it. The limestone strata of cliffs and caves and tiny inlets were fascinating… *Ahem* sorry - I digress. By the way, if you click on the pic you'll see a larger version...

A Manifold Cover by Fiona Pickles
Over the years, I've been amazingly lucky with my covers - or rather, my cover artists. Notably Reese Dante, Meredith Russell, and now Totally Bound's Posh Gosh. Then there are the distinctive and stylish covers designed by Fiona Pickles for my titles with Manifold Press. Because, let's face it, Covers Are Important.

A cover needs to catch the eye, reel in the potential buyer close enough for them to read the blurb - the bait and the hook [do I have to mention how much I, as a writer, struggle with those blurbs?].

Of course, there's sometimes an added complication. It's a fact of life that certain models are very popular and frequently turn up on other people's covers. I've occasionally had to regretfully turn away from what would have been the perfect set of features, to carry on the search.

A Kouros Books Cover by Meredith Russell

When it comes to my self-published titles under the Kouros Books label, Meredith Russell has created most of them. Others, where I've been able to find the perfect photo which didn't need any additional tweaking other than the title and my name in a generic font, I've made myself. That helps to keep the costs down, as it's always a gamble as to whether a rereleased book will sell enough to cover its expenses. But that bullet has to be bitten and every book, regardless of how many times it's relaunched into the unsuspecting world, deserves the best cover you can devise by whatever means.

My DIY Cover from a Dreamstime Photo

If you're lucky enough to find the image that perfectly reflects the story you've written, the way I did for my ghost story, The Camerman's Tale, then you count your blessings and buy it.
Of course, browsing through all those photos on Dreamstime has another purpose. Inspiration. There's far more on there - and the other Royalty Free sites - than just[!] a handsome face and rippling pecs. There are mystical places, atmospheric and beautiful places, fine animals, mythical beasts, other worlds and galaxies. You never know what scene, what face, will start a whole pack of plot ideas.

My own photo of Antinous


  1. Chris, what a lovely article.
    You do have some amazing covers! I too, spend hours looking for "just" the right photo or image to utilize on my covers. Book covers should be thought of as a work of art and should never be just a purchased image which someone adds their name and title to. Sadly, I've seen way too many of those out there. anyway, I just wanted to say hello and tell you I enjoyed today's post. Always, V

  2. You have super covers, Chris, and I love the simplicity of the Manifold Press design. As a hook for the reader they are so important.

    Malta! I can't wait for your book to come out. I have very happy memories of Tar Xian, the Hypogeum and Medina.

  3. Thanks, Elin. *g*. I visited the Hypogeum on my second trip to Malta - it made my hair stand on end. The various Roman/Christian catacombs I've explored on the island didn't have anything like the strange otherwold atmosphere.

  4. Thank you, V *g* I've been incredibly lucky with my cover artists and with the occasional find where all I've had to do was resize the photo and add the text.