Cover art and the spirit of competition

You need to understand that not only am I a hypocrite, but that I view hypocrisy as a charming and hugely positive character trait. That doesn’t really have a heck of a lot to do with this blog post, but I felt the need to share it.

I really love the cover of Kissing The Scorpion. I worked on it with a very talented guy, a good friend of mine, and the result is incredibly close to how I imagined the cover would look, long before the book itself was even half finished.

When I say I worked on it with him, my contribution was pretty much choosing a font and asking questions such as, “What if we moved that up about half an inch?” Not exactly a massive contribution, but I’m not an artist. My 7 year old son can draw better pictures of zombie robots than I can. And I try, I really do.

One of the things I’ve decided for the forthcoming books in the series (The Truth About Kate Hayes), after seeing how the cover of Kissing The Scorpion turned out, is that the main image on each front cover is going to be a piece of tattoo art, specifically a tattoo worn by a character from each book.

The cover art for book 2 (Playing The Ace) is currently in some kind of limbo where I approached an artist, asked him to do a design, paid a deposit, and have subsequently heard very little about how the work is progressing. I’m sure I’ll hear something, eventually, bit it’s not a perfect situation as I was planning on publishing the book on Valentine’s day next year (2015) and that is starting to get close, at least in terms of my publishing schedule.

As book 3 (Painting The Dragon) is already written, at least past the first draft stage, I thought I’d get the cover art sorted out sooner rather than later. I found a great custom tattoo design site – – which uses the motivating concept of competition to give you exactly the design you want, or your money back if you don’t get what you want.

It’s a consistently fresh, exciting and very quick way to get the cover design that you really want. Watching each design evolve from a rough sketch, with frequently entertaining comment-box discussions with the artists, is a source of fun that I hadn’t imagined. The only downside is that only one artist can win each contest and I will probably end up torn and emotional when it’s finally time to decide. Of course, you have to weigh that feeling of being judge, jury and executioner against the very personal karma balancing feelings that you get when the book you spent two years on, the one that you know is pretty frickin’ awesome, still has sales in single figures a whole month after it was released. Not everyone is a winner – deal with it.

Now, before you all race off to that site (other custom tattoo sites are available) to get your book cover art designed, I need to point out that it isn’t a cheap option. There are plenty of book cover artists out there (on the internet and elsewhere) who will produce a full cover design for less than the cost of a gold rated competition prize at tattoodo. Of course, you might not even end up using the design you get from one of those artists because it is amateurish photoshopped clip-art crap that still looks appalling after six months and a thousand revisions.

Do what all your potential readers do: pay your money (or not) and make your choice.