Historical Fiction Books and their Covers
Novels: the fascinating business of art combining with fiction
No matter how often we recall the old adage that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ the truth is that we all do. As ever publisher well knows, book covers send out subtle messages to potential readers providing them with information and expectations of what they will find inside by way of a story. It is not unknown for publishers to take advantage of this in order to reach the widest possible audience and sell the maximum number of books.
One of the great luxuries of being able to design one’s own cover art is that the author can make sure a correct and truthful message is conveyed. I like covers in which the protagonists are fully seen, often looking out at the viewer as if inviting them to participate in their stories. And because Historical Fiction is the genre in question, I also like it when a cover conveys a sense of time and place, including the use of period-style fonts and other images to complement the portraiture. These can provide a more symbolic representation of what one can expect to find inside.
The cover art, therefore, can act as a kind of ‘map’ by which the reader can negotiate the various twists and turns of the story and also perhaps discover some of the levels of meaning they will encounter along the way. Most writers of fiction love their characters in one way or another. I also love my covers.
‘The Hours Before’ - a video on how the cover was made
Robert Stephen Parry 2016