Fascinating look behind the scenes of the evolution of a book cover

Recently I posted the final cover artwork for the thriller Dead Six, coming out in October 2011 by me and Mike Kupari. I also posted a bunch of the final badge logos so you can see what we were choosing from. Well, if you want to see some of the other things that Kurt worked through to get to the final, go here:


He read the book and then consulted with me and Mike for our opinions. He worked up Photoshop roughs of a wide variation of designs, some that were action scenes from the book, others that were kind of a movie poster montage showing the two characters. One of the things that came about was the whole black/white duality. Some of these had pictures of Valentine and Lorenzo, while others were just their guns.

Once Kurt had a selection of ideas, he ran them past our editor, Toni Weiskopf at Baen. Toni then picked the style that she liked the best. One thing to keep in mind that I didn’t when I was picking my personal favorite, is that Baen is known as a sci-fi/fantasy publisher, so they need to be careful to differentiate their thriller covers. Hence the simplified version with just the guns. (which, by the way, are accurate for the characters)

Once Toni had decided on the style, it went back to me and Mike for our opinions. That was when the D6 badge got jazzed up. Kurt worked up several, Mike and I picked our favorites, and then Toni picked one of those.

Cool huh? Now you know how book covers work. Well, not really as it is different every time. 🙂

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9 thoughts on “Fascinating look behind the scenes of the evolution of a book cover”

  1. Baen is my favorite publisher by far but it really does have a history of horrible cover art. Thankfully the covers lately have been greatly improved upon. Personally the Monster Hunter art seems to be among the best Baen has to offer. It took me a year to pick up Hymn Before Battle after reading about it just because of the cover art and Ringo’s Legacy of Aldenata ended up becoming my favorite series ever. Maybe you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but that doesn’t mean people don’t 😛

  2. Nick,

    almost everything Kurt Miller does for cover art is gold. I wrote a book with his artwork in mind, if that gives you any indication as to just how good he is.

  3. I’d have to say his best piece is the cover for Eye of the Storm. That might be my all time favorite cover 😛 Freaking SS performing an orbital deployment onto an enemy held planet.

  4. Those are some incredible covers. I love the dual face rough cover. That is pretty awesome. It’s almost a shame to have so much cool art that will never really see the light of day. Hopefully, the artist will think it’s cool that people are at least enjoying all of the work that they did.

  5. That’s how Baen bookcovers work. At other houses, either the publisher picks stock art he likes, or the art department consults with the editor and marketing departments. Then you get sent an email saying, “This is your cover art.”

    1. That’s how it worked with Corruptor, Mike. Had three concepts thrown at me, and the third one was the one I really thought captured the book. The first two made me cringe…

  6. I just wonder who chooses the Book Covers and Titles when they get translated.

    My first contact with Baen were some translated John Ringo novels from Germany. I soon switched to the “originals” and startet to wonder how can someone change the cover art and the book title so drastically.

    Now it is kind of a hobby to go to a non English bookstore and try to identify the books i have actually read but got a totaly different title 😉

  7. I like the character covers, especially DS2, but I’m glad that Toni ultimately went with the final cover. The character covers appear to have been created for the novelization of some sort of video game, and I know that I, as a reader, will often skip over anything that looks like it was adapted from a video game. Just my own personal prejudice, here, but most novels based on games aren’t very good, and I would hate for someone like me to pass on the book just by looking at the cover.

    The final cover is simple and perfect for D6, as far as I’m concerned. If I was walking by the shelf at the bookstore and spotted D6 sitting there, I’d grab it in a heartbeat just based on the cover alone.

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