What’s in a cover

With the reveal of the cover of The Living Sword 2 – The Road Ahead, I thought it the perfect time to look back and talk a bit about covers in general. Because covers are important, both for the reader and the writer.

The cover is the first thing you are confronted with when you look for a new book. Whether it is browsing Amazon or your local bookshop, it is the cover that draws that first hint of interest. If the cover looks good, we look closer. If it looks bad, or cheap, we become cautious or just move on.

But the cover tells us so much more. It tells us a bit what the book is about, even if that impression isn’t the right one we still assume that the cover is relevant. Or you could be a big name such as Stephen King and simply splash your name on the front and trust on that to tell anybody whether the book is worth picking up.

Either way, why a cover is important to a writer now becomes clear. Because we want people to read our stories. So we have to have covers that will draw people in rather than convince them to move on.

I am of the firm opinion that The Living Sword‘s cover is half the reason it has done as well as it has. And it nearly didn’t happen. Because before I went with a professional, I made my own cover for The Living Sword. So let’s have a look.

My own attempt at making a cover

What does this cover tell you if you see it? That this is the work of an amateur, and that’s not the first impression I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually fairly proud I managed to create this. I don’t have that much talent or experience in drawing or graphic design.

As for what we can see on the cover, it’s my artistic impression of Misthell. Patterned after a jian or a viking sword, though with a longer hilt, it floats above the background. You can just see Misthell’s eye and the mark of One Claw. A reader can guess that this is the living sword from the title, but not much more. Perhaps fantasy, a historical novel, or maybe a treatise on modern-day sporting with swords.

The cover also doesn’t give any impression of action or adventure either, something the book actually has in spades. And that’s when I found what did become the cover of The Living Sword.

The real cover

This is clearly a professional effort. A great drawing showing some sort of monstrous creature, that you can just see holding a sword. This is clearly a fantasy novel.

So yes, my advice to any aspiring self publishing author is to either be really good at making a cover, or just get a professional. I did the latter and have done so again for The Living Sword 2. I haven’t regretted it.

But what do you think? How did you imagine Misthell yourself? Let me know in the comments.

Pemry Janes

View posts by Pemry Janes
I'm the author of the Living Sword series.

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