Here it is. The cover for my next novel, The Ninth Order. Look for it on Amazon and Smashwords in August 2011.
This cover (which I designed myself) is the result of a week’s worth of Photoshopping and playing around with book cover concepts. I eventually settled on this idea because it fit the theme of the book: a mix of traditional fantasy and sci-fi elements. It features a leather book cover, adorned with aged metal corner ornaments. The center of the book features the symbol of The Ninth Order of Rezernaan stamped in bright, untarnished metal; immune to the effects of time.
Right now I’m only releasing my novels as eBooks, and cover design for eBooks is hard. It’s much different than designing for print. The biggest challenge is that eBook covers are most often seen as teeny tiny thumbnails, and rarely at their full resolution. That means what you design has to look good at 300 pixels wide, and oftentimes even smaller than that (Amazon’s thumbnails are often 100px wide, or smaller!). The only time readers will see the cover in all its glory is when they buy the book and see it on their PC, tablet, or eReader. And even then, you never know exactly what the reader will see (Kindles don’t even have color, so much of the design is lost). Plus, digital book readers have a handy feature that allows you to pick up reading right where you left off, so readers might only see your precious full-size cover once, and never again.
This is dramatically different than print books, where the cover/book jacket is a constant part of the reading experience. Every time you go to pick up that book, you see the cover. You feel the stamping and embossing. The cover is designed primarily as a marketing tool to entice you to pick it up, but it’s also an integrated part of the book and the act of reading it. Not so with eBooks. Once the marketing purpose is fulfilled, the cover takes a backseat.
So for eBooks, the cover design is most important for marketing. It’s the first and only image associated with your book, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s often seen in small scale (a scale which the author has no control of). Joel Friedlander at the Book Designer blog has a wonderful post on ebook successes and failures in the Kindle store that describes the issues designers and publishers face when trying to make covers for the digital platforms. Great print covers often make for horrible eBook covers because text and subtlety are lost in those tiny thumbnails, and it takes a lot of consideration to make a cover work at a variety of scales. Smart publishers are starting to design covers specifically for the eBook platforms; another sign that the eBook revolution is getting bigger.