Of all the many hats I wear as publisher, my favorite one is cover designer. That’s an unusual hat for a publisher to wear, in fact, but I’ve never been called “usual.”
A cover designer is different than a cover artist. I don’t create cover art. I find it. I might modify it or enhance it. But as a cover designer, I curate together the best piece of art I can find to represent the book and its genre and pair it with the fonts that pair best to the genre, and voila! Pretty cover.
But sometimes, I have a really important book that I just can’t find the right art for. Or I’m looking for something specific. This usually happens for a series of books. That makes it harder. Because series branding is very important, and it starts with the cover.
That’s when I turn to the artists. Digital illustrators these days.
For some of our major sf series (the Diving Series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and the Seeders Universe for Dean Wesley Smith), we work with the amazingly talented Philcold. He customizes all of our spaceships and space scenes for those books. He’s a delight to work with.
But those books are easy to cover compared to Kris’ Fey series, the latest books in need of new covers. The Fey books have a troubled history thanks to neglect from traditional publishers. You can read all about it in Lessons from the Writing of The Fey or watch Kris talk about it in a series of videos on the WMG Teachable site.
So, these covers had to be spectacular to make up for all of that. To make it up to Kris, who loved this series and was heartbroken by its treatment.
I worked closely with her on the project and created covers that we liked. But they weren’t good enough. I knew they needed to be more. But because I’m not a cover artist, I didn’t know how to achieve it.
Until I met Echo Chernik at the Licensing Expo in May.
Echo is the coordinating judge for the annual Illustrators of the Future contest and one of the premiere Art Nouveau artists of her generation.
I showed Echo what I’d come up with and she loved the concept. She could already visualize how to take what I’d created and enhance it to what I wanted it to be.
And oh wow, has she.
We have three covers done so far, and they are simply stunning. We’ll be using them prodigiously in the coming weeks as we promote our next Kickstarter—for the first new Fey novel in 22 years, so be sure to watch for news on that next week!
To give you a taste of what I’m talking about, here are side-by-side comparisons for the new covers for The Sacrifice and The Changeling. The ones on the left are what I did with the art I had to work with. The ones on the right are Echo’s incredible creations.
Sometimes, you’re just in the right place at the right time. And you find a partner who just makes everything better.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.