{Procrastination Post} The Making of a Book Cover

It’s been a long time since I was in design business–nothing fancy, mostly magazine ads, booklets, sometimes furniture stickers, and industrial design for the tool stores. (I’m happy those days are over, tho.) I’m not really back in business, but I design my own covers. You can see them on my books page and on the dedicated Falaha’s books site. Only four so far.

I’m still writing that second book and I needed a break from things.

So this week I have been designing a cover for a writer friend. We often discuss *horrible* book covers that appear here and there from time to time. Lousy Book Covers knows it all. If you are into romances, you should stalk the Bad Romances tumblr space for the coffee chuckle. Most of the covers are both hilarious and sad at the same time, because launching a book with poor cover is a bad idea. And not because someone somewhere will laugh at it–that’s the least awful thing you should be worrying about.

Anyway, I’m not sure I want to go into cover design business as into business. There are many things that play against it–my health is the major scorer. Deadline is a non-existent word for my body–it shatters too often and pain is my frequent companion.

How did I get to illustrate a book cover for someone else?

It all started with a blog post about the cover for her new novel, Her Demonic Majesty (still in edits), which is sci-fi/fantasy story.

In short, this was her original cover.
Her Demonic Majesty Cover (Old)

It’s not that bad. It’s OK, if you do something about that spread-too-wide-too-far title and throw out words like “a new novel”. Seriously, why put things like “A novel” on a book cover? Can’t people figure that out from the word count? However, from a thumbnail point of view, which the reader sees first in a store like Smashwords, it’s a good cover–it’s bright and the title is readable. It would only be awful in print.

I usually work in Adobe Illustrator and sometimes in Photoshop. The new cover for Her Demonic Majesty was drawn in Illustrator.

I asked for a book description, since I haven’t read the story draft. My friend kindly gave me a submission package–the file with a synopsis and details about character’s appearance and the world she operates in. That’s a good start.

Over the next few days we were talking out the details of the cover–that’s right, we communicated a lot.

I did a rough draft of a character, which looked like this:


Then I finished sketching the upper half of her body, and as I went on, I had a basic idea for a background–a city–and later I made a scaled cover draft to see how everything would be placed, including the title and the author’s name. At this stage I also played with the background tone a bit, going for the dark one eventually.


Later I added some more elements for the main picture.


Then I finished the character details.


Done with that, all was left is to add the background city and find a suitable font.


At this stage the cover was pretty much finished. So I showed it to my friend and went to bed. However, I knew well that the job wasn’t over yet.

In the morning, when I opened the file, I clearly saw that the cover has no life, no concept, and no punch. It was, well, dead and it sucked.

Giving it another thought, I recolored the artwork and the title needed a bit of work too. This is what the end result looks like:


So which one do you like?


Jeno Marz
JENO MARZ is a science fiction writer from Latvia, Northern Europe, with background in electronics engineering and computer science. She is the author of two serial novels, Falaha’s Journey: A Spacegirl’s Account in Three Movements and Falaha’s Journey into Pleasure. Marz is current at work on a new SF trilogy. All her fiction is aimed at an adult audience.


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