Historical posts
Leave a Comment

The front cover is now done! The story behind the design. Sunday update

The design for my book cover is finally done! Hooray!  Do you like it?  I hope so, as I am really pleased with it.  The design has been achieved through a collaboration with ‘Design for writers’ a design company based in Ireland who specialise in book covers.

To understand how the design came about, I thought I would explain the thinking behind it, and how it came to pass.  Back in 2014, when I knew my book was just about ready to publish, I began thinking about the front cover for my novel.  My first thought was, ‘Great! I’ll do it myself!’

There was one huge problem with this plan…I hadn’t painted anything in my adult life, and even at school I don’t remember doing any painting of note – but that might be because by fourteen I moved into fabric printing (girls were prettier in that class) so never got to try painting.   However, undaunted, after buying an oil-set and a few brushes, I started off on a few practice pieces.  My confidence grew, until I felt confident enough to make a first stab at a new cover.  This is what I came up with…


This confirmed a few things to me.

  1. I was not very good at painting.
  2. The design is too busy and complex.
  3. If I was going to do this, my limitations as a painter required me to find a simpler design and one with more impact.
  4. The best bit about this painting was the small mask next to the title.

So I tried again…..and came up with this.


Okay, this was better…but still no cigar.  It confirmed a couple of things.

  1. I was never going to be a good enough painter to do this alone.
  2. I needed professional help.

So I got in contact with ‘Design for writers’.  They told me they would try and incorporate my design if they could, and use it for the cover.  Great I thought! I might still make the cover.  They took my second painting and came up with this.


Okay, this was better.  It could almost be a Roman mural similar to the paintings I saw on the buildings in Pompeii a few years ago, but there was one obvious issue:

  1. My painting is what is holding back the design.

So what do I do?  I could be stubborn and forge ahead with one of my own paintings, regardless of the consequences.  But I realised the folly of this approach: I had spent years learning to write, but I’d only been painting for six months – whether I liked it or not, my writing could be judged on my cover, so I needed to admit defeat and come up with something different.

Fortunately, the guys at ‘Design for writers’ managed to find an image from Creative Commons (who very kindly allowed us to use it) of the actual mask found in Kalkriese, the archaeological site of the battle of Teutoburg.  My painting was based on another image of this same mask, and I am delighted that we could use a genuine artefact from the battle that is at the heart of my novel.  We added some texture to the image and on my direction gave the mask an earthy colour in order to blend in with the background imagery.

finished cover

So that’s it!  Finally the finished Cover! I hope you like it?  And if you don’t…..well, I’m sorry – this cover journey has taken me nine months, it’s time I moved on!

The next step for the book is the map, let’s hope this is more straightforward!  The book is still on track to be released at the end of June….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s