Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guest Post: Cover Art

This is the final post in the special series of guest posts by Luke Bellmason to celebrate the recent launch of his new science-fiction book, The Canterbury Tales, Volume I. These posts are repeated from Luke's own blog. I wanted to share them with you because they give a nice little glimpse into what it's like for him as a writer. They were written before the book's launch. Here's Luke:

They say you shouldn’t do your own cover art for your book. It’s probably good advice, but I’ve always wanted to do book covers. About six years ago I did a full two year course at my local college in Graphic Design. Not because I wanted or expected to get a career as a graphic designer (though I admit it would have been nice), but simply because I wanted to learn more about how to do logos, cover art and such professionally. I got a HND in Visual Communications out of it, which is like a starter pre-university qualification.
This means I am actually even more qualified to do my book cover than I am to write my book; writing is something for which I have no professional training at all! It also means that I am in a fairly unique position of being able to truly reflect my book and my writing style in my cover art.
This is still the concept cover, but it’s beginning to grow on me. I wanted a cover which was like my writing style; bold, simple, straight-forward and clear. This design hopefully gives some indication of the four characters who’s stories feature in the volume. One of the major problems with having a title like ‘The Canterbury Tales’ is that I didn’t want to mislead people into thinking this was the original book, but really I’m going to have to hope that people read the blurb on the back before buying it so they know it’s not. The other factor I needed to consider was that the other two volumes need to have the same style of artwork, but look different, so I’ll be using different background colours for each one, and each character is going to have their own colour as well. I also wanted something which would stand out on the Amazon Kindle store, where the vast majority of sci-fi titles have starfields, ships, planets and such.
Of course, if I could actually draw I might have gone with all that stuff, but I can’t draw! So I use Adobe Illustrator, which is a piece of software so fiendishly difficult to use that few people get past the first two hours of trying to make it do anything even remotely useful. But I’m a video game player, I’m used to software which is difficult to control, which actively tries to make life difficult for you and which reveals its secrets to you only after you’ve shown it that you’re the boss! Learning to use Illustrator seemed a lot like that.
So, for those who are interested, The Canterbury Tales Vol. 1 nears completion. I have spent the past months editing, proof-reading and finishing off the text. Then came the task of taking the finished files and formatting everything into a word document to get it Kindle compatible. After that, I took almost three days to write the Preface and finally, I got to do the cover art – probably my favourite part of the whole process.
I posted this concept cover on my Twitter feed last night and this morning I woke to find it had been favourited by Ray Dillon! Don’t know who Ray Dillon is? Well he’s a writer and artist who does the artwork for HBO’s Game of Thrones and who has done a massive amount of work on comics, cover art and trading cards. After you’ve finished admiring my lovely cover, head on over to Ray’s page and marvel at his gorgeous images. Needless to say, I am super psyched about my cover getting favourited by such a luminary and wow, what a huge compliment. Thanks Ray!
My book’s going to hit the Kindle store in the next week or so, assuming I can successfully wrangle with MS Word and the upload process. I’ll be sure to post here when it’s finally up, check back soon for more news!


  1. Love this cover so much I'm in a jealous rage. It's beautiful and iconic, instantly recognizable and very professional looking.

  2. Did I also mention that I can fly a helicopter?

    (Don't be jealous, there's a heck of a lot of things I'm no good at - most things in fact!)

    Anyway, I think you are always a bad judge of your own work because usually things don't turn out how you imagined them. When someone else looks at it, they don't see the 'ideal' it was supposed to be, they just see it for what it is.