The beautiful cover for Heirs of Power, the first book in The Constellation Saga, has been revealed and today we are privileged to have its designer, Jennifer Scruby answer a few questions for us…
Tell us a bit about how you came to be interested in book cover design, have you always wanted to do this?
My interest in book covers came about as a combination of my love of reading and drawing. I found that illustration was a great way to make the characters, creatures, atmosphere and scenes from my favourite novels to come to life.
I went to university to study for a degree in Visual Communication – Illustration and gained a lot of practice in cover illustration while undertaking the projects that were assigned. However, I do feel that the best covers and illustrations that I produce are for novels that are within the genres and topics that I most enjoy reading!
Do you have a specific process when you create a piece of art?
When I create a piece I tend to start by writing down all the main features and parts about the piece that I want to focus on; like the characters or the feelings that I want the image to portray.
Then I move on to the sketching part of the process. I usually do my sketches in a sketchbook with pencils or even crayons.
Then I move on to experimenting with inks, collage and paint and work on small parts of the image on lots of separate pages.
After that I scan pretty much everything into Photoshop, even the stuff I don’t particularly know what I’m going to do with! The next part is all experimental; digital, collaging. I move areas about, chop stuff up and layer things on top of one another.
I usually do a couple of ‘finished’ pieces that I save, and then I just have to decide which one I like the best! Which is a process that takes a couple of days consisting of me scrutinising each image for about a day each until I pick one that I like a tiny bit more than the others, which is then uploaded to my accounts!
How do you think an author and a cover designer can work well together to create a final design with the best possible outcome?
I think that the author of the book knows how they want their book to be advertised and the audience that they are trying to attract.
They overall have the final choice of what cover they pick, but I do think that the illustrator can give good advice about issues that the author might not have thought about.
Also the illustrator can advise the author on whether the book wants to have a scene on the front, which might give away some of the plot, or whether they want a character, which might not allow people to imagine their own interpretation, or whether they are going to choose a symbol, which might be too broad!
It’s all down to choice; picking and choosing parts from each option to get something that will work as a whole for the individual novel.
What differences are there between designing a book cover and the other types of artwork that you do?
I do like to have topic to work from, so some of my personal artworks tend to be themed or be based on something, whether it’s myths and legends or tarot cards!
So all in all, the only difference is that my personal work is bit more freeing, as you make your choices depending on what you feel works, whereas with book covers you have to think about attracting an audience and matching the authors personal image of the book.
There are so many different styles of cover, what types do you prefer and do you have a favourite that immediately caught your eye?
To be honest I’m not really a huge fan of the modified photo front cover. As a librarian, I do see covers that all have the same stock image used but just modified slightly; the ‘girl in a long dress, looking backwards over her shoulder’ has been an extremely popular cover in young adult literature for a while now!
I do like covers that are a bit different, or use a symbol that can be echoed in further novels, but I have a place in my heart for the smooth, airbrush style renderings of old 80’s and 90’s fantasy and sci-fi novels, that have slowly been moved out of fashion in place of more stylised covers.
But I think that anything that is completely different from everything else on the market works well as both attracting an audience and thinking outside the box.
Do you have any tips for a self-publishing author on how to start thinking about their covers?
I think you just have to go in to a book store or library and see what covers make you want to pick up a book.
Decide whether you want to have a symbol or an icon to tie numerous novels together. Also go for something different! Nothing stands out better than when there’s nothing else like it, break free of the mould of backwards facing, stock image young women!
Please tell us some more about your other projects you have worked on and any plans you have for the future.
My last big project was probably my final major project at university, which was an exploration of different Death gods and deities all portrayed within the themes of the tarot deck.
At the moment, I am working on a continuing series of images from different urban legends or cryptids, such as the Wendigo or the Jersey Devil, combining my love of the paranormal and conspiracy theories.
As well as waiting with bated breath for the call to work on the cover for the second novel in the Constellation series!
Thank you for your time, Jennifer! And the amazing work on the cover too.