Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Covers revealed for the new DIRE EARTH books!

Yesterday Unbound Worlds hosted the cover reveal for my two new Dire Earth books, INJECTION BURN and ESCAPE VELOCITY!

Here they are just so we can all gawk at them one more time:



In this post I want to talk about the cover creation process. You often hear from authors that they have no say in their cover designs, and that's largely true. I've been quite lucky to have an editor who includes me in the process, if only to keep me informed. I give my opinions on what they're doing, and sometimes they listen and sometimes they don't. And that's okay! I'm not a graphic designer, nor am I a marketing guru. To quote Monty Python, "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like." So I weigh in and am grateful that my concerns are listened to, but I know in the end they'll do what they think is best. It is, afterall, their job.

These covers, though, went a bit differently than the norm.

Here's a run-down of how they came to be:

Okay. Wait. Before I do that, real quick it's important to know that these two books are very much a duology. They're part 1 and part 2 of a story. Cool? Cool.

So, my first comment to my editor was that I'd love to do something like Connie Willis's BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR.



I love the way these tie together and immediately suggest they are two halves of something larger.

I also suggested that we do something that implies the arrival aspect of the first book, and the subsequent attempt at escape in the second. In addition, being DIRE EARTH books these have an element of a space elevator involved, so if the above could also somehow imply descent and ascent, that, I thought, would be awesome.

My editor agreed, and over dinner in Phoenix last summer we pencil sketched the idea. At which point he suggested something like this movie poster for High Rise:



And I promptly replied with this one, just to one-up my editor on the geek lore scale.



Point is, the triangular nature of the design implies going up, and if we did the opposite for book one... you get the idea.

Time passed and, as usual, I reached a point in the writing process (the mid-book doldrums) where I needed a little spark to get me motivated again. I decided to embark on one of my favorite pastimes, arm-chair cover design!

So I fiddled around in Photoshop for an afternoon, and came up with these:



Not bad huh? I must apologize to the artists who made the works I used in the above. I literally just started cutting-and-pasting random images that were close to what I wanted from Deviant Art, and didn't think to note who the artists were. Whoever you are, fantastic stuff!

It is also worth noting something else. The woman on the second mockup doesn't look anything like the character we wanted to portray, and that's because for the life of me I could not find a painting out there of a bad-ass sci-fi woman of African descent. Sad but true. I hope my new cover addresses that problem in some small way.

Much to my surprise, my editor loved this mock-up, and immediately went and showed it around the office. The reply that came back made me very happy: "I think we're going to do exactly this."

And so they did! Check out the final product, compared to my mockup above:



Amazing work, and pretty dang close to what we'd envisioned.

I'm super happy with the end result, and even though I didn't get a cover design credit, I can at least share my amateur design-chops with you all here, right?

That's it for now...

Jason

2 comments:

T. Rose Adam said...

Very cool and I'm beyond excited to read them, not excited that I have to wait though! ;) I love the Dire Earth Cycle books and its great news that the next books you have coming out are in that world.

Jason M. Hough said...

Thanks much!