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  • Writer's pictureJames Varma

What you judge a book by.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

A look at the progression of the cover for Day Bringer

When I was editing Day Bringer, my intention was to get the book out in time for the anniversary of Exile, I wanted to jump back into publishing 10 years later, and that left me short on time.

I couldn't reasonably expect to hire someone to make my cover and conform to my tight turnaround, which left me with a dilemma. Do I postpone the launch or make the cover myself?

Of course, in the end, the launch was postponed anyway because I just wasn't ready, but at the time, I thought the deadline was the most important thing.

So I decided to make the cover myself.

This just led to a new problem; how do I make something of any value? I know that I'm no real artist, but I have a decent ability with solid shapes and hard edges. so perhaps if I settle on something simple but bold.

And so the concept for the cover materialised in my mind.

Iteration 1

1st iteration of Day Bringer Cover

When I first imagined the book, it was very bright, with harder text and a more hard-edged version of the sun's rays. At this stage, I hadn't decided if I was going to use my own ISBN or if I was going to use a KDP one, so I wanted it to stand out against all the dark-toned covers on bookshelves.

I liked it for about 30 seconds before I realised that I really didn't like the sun's rays. the little triangles. I tried a number of different versions but eventually decided that it was giving a tone and feeling that didn't have anything to do with Day Bringer, so I moved on.

Iteration 2

2nd iteration of Day Bringer Cover

It was in iteration 2 that I realised how nice the title would look if I use the sun to split it and 'invert' the colours. The previous version suddenly looked too simple and looked boring. the 'inversion' of colours through the title and through the blurb gave it interest and the light gradient that I used to depict the sun rays gave the whole page some texture.

Though with all that being said, it was here that I realised that the text was wrong, it didn't feel like it reflected any part of the story, neither the small gods nor the modern nature of the book.

I also realised the brightness made the text too hard to read, and so we moved onto Iteration 3.

Iteration 3

3rd iteration of Day Bringer Cover

In iteration 4, I brought in my publishing identity logo, I found a font that felt to me like it conveyed the grandeur of the gods and the mystery of the title character herself. I kept the golden yellow in the sun and exchanged the reddish sky for a darker purpler one that more closely represented the main character. Even now I wasn't sure if I would use a KDP ISBN so I resolved to keep as much stark contrast between light and dark as I could.

I also moved the spine around in this version so that the sun split the title there as it did on the cover.

I liked this version, and I felt like it was really starting to come together. Just a few more pieces and we'd be done.

And yet... it still felt empty, like there was something missing.

Iteration 4

4th iteration of Day Bringer Cover

In this version, I added my websites and my Twitters - though as my Instagram has grown tremendously in the last month, I wonder if perhaps I should have used that instead of Twitter. However, this iteration, number 4, was a perfect example of 1 leap forward and 1 step back.

Adding stars to the sky helped tremendously. It did 2 things, it made the sky look infinitely more present, and it made it much clearer that we were looking at the sky and the sun. It gave real texture to the cover without it looking busy.

But I had been worried by the inversion cutting through the text. I thought it was hard to read. I had hoped that bringing the colour of the text over the sun closer to the colour of the text over the sky would make it easier, and less of a transition, but when I was done, I instantly knew it was a mistake. this extra colour seemed out of place, almost like a highlight I hadn't remembered to turn off.

Final Version

Final iteration of Day Bringer Cover

The final version of the cover brought back the darker text over the sun and moved the blurb so that there was less text being cut through by the sun. It's also a smaller cut because as you can see in the following picture the cover was not the end of my edits to the development of this book.

Proof iterations of Day Bringer Cover

On the left is the original version I had printed using KDP's suggested setting and using a Matte finish.

The second book is once I resized the book to a more traditional size. I had felt like the larger size, though cheaper to make and therefore easier for me to profit from, felt cheap. I didn't like it at all. it felt like a self-published book, not just 'a book'.

But that second version had some issues with DPI creating some very clear and annoying banding in the gradient, so I added some more pixels and created the last 2. The last proof and my own personal copy.

So that's how I went from no cover to a published book.

In future, I'd like to hire people to do my covers, and hopefully, in future, I'll give myself more time.

Thanks for reading!

If you'd like to read Day Bringer, you can find it on Amazon! just search Day Bringer, or click here if you're in the UK or US:


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