Wednesday is guest poster day and this week’s guest poster is the lovely Tamar Anolic, author of Triumph of a Tsar who discusses choosing her book covers.
Hello everyone! I am Tamar Anolic, a writer with several published books and short stories. When I decided to self-publish my books, there were a lot of things to tackle. One of the first issues I faced was how to design the cover.
I needed a cover that not only would catch a reader’s eye, but also look good in multiple formats – on the book itself, as a thumbnail on websites, and on marketing materials such as postcards and bookmarks.
There’s a reason people talk about judging a book by its cover: it really is the first aspect of a book that draws a reader in.
A cool cover will prompt a reader to take another look. A drab cover that conveys nothing about a book will make a reader continue browsing without a second look. So that was my mission: creating an eye-catching cover that also conveyed something about the book itself.
My first novel, “The Last Battle,” is about a female veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and her transition home after being injured.
Early on, I decided I wanted elements on the cover that would convey both the main character’s intensity and her vulnerability.
Growing up, I had always liked to draw and paint as well as write. For awhile, I toyed with the idea of drawing the cover myself. That didn’t last long, though.
I realized that I wanted an image of the main character herself to be a large element of the overall design.
Of course, I’ve always been terrible at drawing people. It was time to call a professional.
The graphic designer with whom I worked came up with a number of potential covers. One was quite simple: it had the title surrounded by dog tags that sloped from the top left of the cover to the bottom right.
I liked that design, but I thought it was too similar to the cover of a book I had read while doing research for “The Last Battle.” Other designs included different versions of the Iraqi flag and guns, or with very small depictions of soldiers. None of those felt quite right to me.
I wanted an image that would be identifiable as the main character, and I wanted the cover to depict the fact that the book was more about her journey back to health and civilian life than about her combat experiences.
I eventually chose the design you see pictured here for a number of reasons. The dark blue background conveyed some of the darkness of war and the main character’s injuries.
I also thought that having an intense image of the main character gave a flavor of the narrative.
Lastly, having a hospital in the background- with a red cross that shone from the darkness of the rest of the cover – really spoke to the healing that was possible.
When it came time to design the cover of my second novel, “Triumph of a Tsar,” I was working with a completely different book.
“Triumph of a Tsar” is a work of alternate historical fiction, where the Russian Revolution is averted, and the haemophiliac Alexei, son of Tsar Nicholas II, comes to the throne.
This time, I wanted a picture of Nicholas and Alexei to feature prominently, and I wanted pictures of their famous palaces on the front and back covers.
A few of my graphic designer’s initial designs featured the same dark blue color that characterizes the cover of “The Last Battle.” However, “Triumph of a Tsar” is such a different book than “The Last Battle” that I didn’t want their covers to look alike.
It would have made more sense to continue using that blue theme if these two books were part of a series, featured the same main character or were related in some other way. Because none of that is true, I thought a different color scheme and feel were necessary.
Several of the initial covers contained features that I liked a lot: an image of St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace was prominent, and in the corner of the cover, a page flipped upward to reveal an image of Alexei and Nicholas.
These images were still dark, however, in part because the photographs of Alexei and Nicholas were black and white. I wanted to retain that grayscale theme for the photograph because that was the technology at the time, but I wanted the color of the Palace’s interior to pop out.
That was why I chose the final cover of “Triumph of a Tsar,” pictured here.
The Jordan Staircase of the Winter Palace really glows in rich colors and sets off the black and white photograph in the middle.
On the whole, I thought it was attractive and eye-catching.
Overall, then, there are several key points to keep in mind when designing your novel’s cover.
The cover should catch the reader’s eye and convey something about your book.
As a writer, you know your book better than anyone; as a result, you should have a sense of what elements you want to feature.
Lastly, working with a graphic designer can really make a difference, especially for generating a polished, professional cover.
Tamar’s most recent work is Through the Fire: An Alternate Life of Prince Konstantin of Russia.
It is a novel in short stories that explores the life that Konstantin might have had if the Russian Revolution had never happened.
It is set in the same alternate historical universe as Tamar’s previous novel, Triumph of a Tsar.
Tamar’s first novel was The Last Battle, and her first published book was The Russian Riddle, a nonfiction biography.
Her short stories have been published or are forthcoming in The Copperfield Review, The Sandy River Review, The Helix, Foliate Oak, and Evening Street Review.
Triumph of a Tsar
Triumph of a Tsar is a work of alternate historical fiction where the Russian Revolution is averted, and the hemophiliac Alexei, son of Tsar Nicholas II, comes to the throne.
Connect with Tamar
Thanks so much to Tamar for being this week’s guest poster. Do check out her website and if you have any questions for Tamar drop them in the comments below.