Winter’s Light Cover Reveal

by M.J. Hearle

A few weeks ago I posted a question on the Winter’s Shadow facebook page about the importance of book covers. As in how much they affected a consumers decision when choosing a book. For me, they don’t mean a whole lot. When I buy a book it’s because I’m familiar with the author, or I’ve read a review or it has been recommended to me by a friend. The cover art is probably the least important factor in my decision.

Based on the responses to my Facebook question, many of you feel differently. Cover art plays a significant role in your decision process. In fact, quite a few commenters admitted the reason they picked up Winter’s Shadow was because of the cover. I’d love to say I was responsible for the cover but it would be a bare-faced lie. The credit goes to my publisher, Alex and all the other clever clogs over at Pan Macmillan. Sure, I had to sign off on the design but in terms of conception/execution I had very little to say other than some minor superficial amends like tidying up the deep etching around the hair etc.

Having a graphic design background, it was difficult for me to relinquish complete creative control. However, I suspect it was for the best. I don’t have any experience designing book covers and so left to my own devices I probably would have settled for something painfully sparse and monochromatic. Something like this:

Doesn’t have quite the same punch as the eventual image, does it?

And so when it came time to design the cover for Winter’s Light, I again wisely deferred to my publisher. They knocked it out of the park the first time and I dare say they’ve done it again. See for yourself:

While the previous colour scheme has been abandoned (save for the red of Winter’s hair) I love the way the designer has kept the same title font and decorative elements to tie the series together. The forest crowding around Winter, her resilient posture, and the desaturated colours all work in tandem to create a perfectly appropriate atmosphere of foreboding. I couldn’t be more thrilled or grateful to be working with such a savvy publishing team.

I also would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Jessica Shirvington for generously supplying me with a quote for the cover. No doubt her name is familiar to anyone who’s been in a bookstore in the past year as she is one of Australia’s most successful Paranormal authors, but for those who haven’t been lucky enough to stumble across her work please rectify the situation now. Jessica is the author of The Violet Eden Chapters (also called The Embrace Series) and apart from being a talented writer is also an uncommonly kind one.

Let me explain, a few months ago my publisher asked if I knew any authors I might ask for a cover quote. This question left me stymied. I don’t belong to any writers groups, and if there’s a pub or cafe where Sydney writers nobody told me where it is. Occasionally, I’ll see someone pecking away at a laptop but I never approach them to see what they’re working on. Mainly because these people generally look like Hipsters, a cultural subset I’m ideologically opposed to (seriously, roll down your pants cuffs. Nobody wants to see your hairy ankles.) So I was left with a dilemma – either go without a quote or try and befriend a fellow scribbler.

But who to befriend? More to the point – how to befriend an author? Most high profile writers are surrounded by a blockade of agents, managers, PR people and the like. It’s very difficult to get in touch with them directly and even if you do, successful writers are usually pretty busy writing their own stuff. Asking someone to take time out from their own book to read yours is a pretty big imposition. Regardless, I selected a handful of dream authors who’s quotes could genuinely make a difference to the commercial prospects of Winter’s Light and started firing out emails. Jessica was the only one who replied and was so kind and considerate in her response that I could barely believe my luck. The fact that she made time in her dauntingly busy schedule to read not only Winter’s Light but Winter’s Shadow too is a testament to her stirling qualities. So a big thanks to Jessica. Hopefully, I’ll be in a position one day to return the favour.

M. J.