An appreciation of cover art

Following a rather too-public spat between a well-known author and his cover artist, yesterday was ‘cover artist appreciation day’ on Twitter. A good cause, because too often artists get scant recognition or credit for their work. And it reminded me that I haven’t said nearly enough about the artwork on my own book cover, since it was published back in October.

got ghosts full

Over the years I’ve generally been lucky with my cover art. There was one notable exception, many years ago, but that turned out to be someone at the publisher’s with an axe to grind, and nothing to do with the cover artist. Apart from that, I’ve had some lovely covers. Publishers and artists have taken the time and trouble to study the book and ask me for my input – and to produce something both professional and attractive. After all, it’s in their best interests to make the covers as alluring as possible, to catch the eye of potential readers.

My current publisher, Fox Spirit Books, are no exception. They have a ‘stable’ (horrible expression, but I can’t think of anything better!) of extremely talented artists, and they firmly believe that producing cover art is a three-way process between publisher, artist and author. And boy, does it work. Pop over and take a shuftie at their catalogue and you’ll soon see some stunning examples.

For ‘Got Ghosts?’ I was given free choice of any of those artists, and it was a difficult decision because they’re all so good. In the end, I went with Vincent Holland-Keen (@fiskerton on Twitter) because I felt his style best suited the style and genre of the book. And I’ve been absolutely delighted with the result. He clearly read the book, or at least enough of it to get a good feel for the style, content and overall ‘atmosphere’. He ran his suggested design past me for my approval. And he put so much love, attention and detail into the result that I’m still finding wry pointers to things in the narrative, even now.

got ghosts frontTake the front cover, for instance. There’s a typical ‘haunted house hallway’ scene to set up the fact that this is a ghost story. There’s a snippet of film reel, to suggest the TV production crew who visit Greystones Hall to film the ghosts. There are TV cameras and arc lights littering the floor, in reference to the sudden flight of the crew after they’ve seen one too many ghosts. Even the title and my name appear on fluttering “business cards” with the TV company’s details. And the whole design is a wonderful, mad swirl which beautifully conjures up the breathless pace of the action.

The attention to detail continues on the back cover. Recently I spotted a framed portrait (an important element in the story, although I won’t say why!), and I’m almost sure there’s a ghostly figure at the window, at the very ‘back’ of the design. A ghost? The local vicar, come to attempt an exorcism? Either is possible – but it certainly tickled me when I found it.

So, next time you pick up a book (preferably mine, but I won’t insist on it!) do take a moment to study and appreciate the cover art. A lot more hard work and artistic flair goes into it than you might think!

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