Now that my book’s out to nine publishers, I find my thoughts turning toward cover designs and illustrations. I don’t know how much say authors have when it comes to their book covers, but I had so much fun creating this basic design, I decided to share it. It can, at the very least, be used for bookmarks, postcards, and posters.
The initial concept was rather more elaborate. I began working on it yesterday using acrylics and glitter markers, but then decided it might be easier to execute on Word. That of course meant I had to simplify the design. My Word skills are fairly good, but they don’t extend to designing artwork.
I first considered using a black background with the title in embossed gold lettering. On Word, however, a crimson background with fill effects looked far more striking. The banners with the sub-title and my name are supposed to be cream-colored silk with the kind of waves and pleats you’d expect if they were hanging outdoors. In my drawing, the banners have a v-shaped cut on the sides. I used the closest shape I could find on Word.
I thought of adding a keyboard below the lower banner, an apt image for both Haydn and me, and one that would serve to instantly brand any promotional items I used for the books.
Haydn, you see, wrote all his compositions at the keyboard, beginning with some improvisation that led to a comprehensive sketch of the work in question. It’s thanks to Johann Essler, his copyist, that we have details of the great composer’s work habits. Haydn would develop a sketch in the morning, and then write it up later in the afternoon.
Like Haydn, I, too, compose at the piano, developing a sketch that then gets written up into the final work.
While working on Word, though, I realized that adding a keyboard would render the design a little too busy, although I wonder if a good graphics artist could integrate it into the design. It would make the design quite unique and distinctive. The keyboard would have to be at a slight angle to give the viewer the illusion of a harpsichord with an illustration resting where one would place a score.
I’m sure a good designer could ensure that the edges of the illustration extend up to the banners at either end. That’s how I see it in my mind’s eye, the corners of the banners overlapping the edges of the borderless picture frame.
The central image, although it works well for A Minor Deception, is a placeholder. My own concept for the illustration is Haydn’s Music Room with its patterned wallpaper in the background and his Schantz fortepiano in the foreground. The composer dressed in his uniform of blue and gold stands with his back to us, frantically looking through his scores. The entire room is in disarray with scores strewn all over the fortepiano and the marble floor. A few sheets can be seen fluttering to the ground. One reads: “Let the Eagle beware the mark of the Raven.”
At the bottom of the illustration, to the left of this paper, is an open bronze box inlaid with lapis lazuli. A gold ring set with a ruby stone lies discarded next to it.
As you can imagine, this illustration was quite beyond my scope, but I’d love to see it done by a good artist.
When I first created the design, I intended it to be a book cover. So, I even created a concept for the spine. It would either be the same color as the background of the cover or black with the image of Haydn you see on my sidebar in the center. The novel title would be above his head and my name below his shoes. The back would be a solid black with the dust jacket blurb in white text.
In my initial excitement, I thought the design with the keyboard added in could be used as a basic template for all the Haydn novels and every promotional item I decided to use. All that would need to be changed would be the title and the illustration. Wouldn’t this make for ease of production? Wouldn’t the Haydn novels and anything related to them have an instantly recognizable and distinctive look? And couldn’t it be used on practically anything: tote bags, purses, ceramic mugs, travel mugs, magnets?
What if I had a basic template that I could share with newsletter subscribers and fans? They’d be able to customize it with an image of their choice. The challenge would be to create a title that was at once descriptive of the image and read like the title of a mystery novel! The resulting image could be placed on anything or simply inserted into a picture frame and hung up on the wall.
The design I created on Word, while nice enough, doesn’t lend itself to all of that! But it was still great fun to conceive of. And I hope you enjoy it, too. I’ve included the design in black as well. Let me know if you like it!