How I made the book covers


Essentially, the cover for Simon and MacGuffin is a woodcut print. I used a craftwood placemat of the kind sold in hardware or craft shops for painting with folk art. I carved away the design using ordinary wood carving tools. Then I rolled it with black ink and printed it in my homemade press.

The carved away areas stayed white while the raised areas printed black. The image is also reversed, which means the original image, especially the lettering, has to be drawn and carved in reverse. I’m getting better at this now. I managed to make four covers without any back to front letters.

My best prints were scanned and touched up and then coloured in Photoshop. Lynn helped. She has to help me with most computer things. OK, I admit it. Lynn did all of the Photoshop.

We made covers for the first four books like this. They should make a nice set. After that I will try doing covers based on my paintings. I have a painting done for The Black Marquee and an Idea for The Vietnam Cold-Turkey. That should give me an idea of what works before I get round to publishing the five part saga. I think books in a series should all have similar covers so I will probably do all of those in one go.

Fire Dance will be the sequel to The Black Marquee so it will have a painting on the cover and One Year and a Day is the sequel to Chironex so it will have to have a printed cover.

That, for what it’s worth, is my thoughts on book covers. I have been warned that the covers are essential for effective marketing and I should have them professionally done. They may well be, but I’ve never been one to take good advice, especially when it would require the outlay of more cash than I realistically expect to make from the project.


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