This month we publish Peter F. Hamilton's The Abyss Beyond Dreams. We did the cover reveal here and have had astoundingly positive feedback for it. Never one to rest on our laurels we have since returned to Peter's entire Commonwealth series and repackaged in the new style.
For anyone wanting to know what level of work goes into creating covers like this, and how many people are involved then this post is for you!
As the editor, I create the cover brief - in this case twelve months before publication. It consists of highlighting target readership, approximate age range and interests, comparable authors and what 'feel' we want to have for the cover: dramatic, filmic, adventurous, romantic etc. They usually have a standard line with 'what do you NOT want to see on the cover' - my response is a little tongue-in-cheek: pink, glitter and fluffy unicorns. :-) Then we have a cover briefing meeting, two actually (a pre-brief and then the real brief) that is done in conjunction with UK/international sales, PR, marketing and our brand manager. Everyone inputs information which is relevant to the title - bearing in mind this is all done, at times, even before we've had the script delivered!
There is also a lot of liaising with the author. Peter is very hands on with his covers. So at each stage we discussed different elements, characters and background scenes that we thought would be appropriate. I compiled a list of characters we wanted to use on each of the books, found descriptions for all of them and provided detailed descriptions of background scenes that Peter had suggested would be good. We even had an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of it all! This then all got passed onto our head of design James, who had already come up with the fabulous concept that had been given a big thumbs up by cover brief meeting attendees, author and agent.
We had regular contact with the hugely talented Larry Rostant who, after seeing suggested photos of people we thought our characters looked like, went out and found even better models. After shooting them he then created and incorporated the backgrounds we'd discussed and added elements of action and movement to create a truly film-poster effect cover. We absolutely adore them and hope you do too.
Peter explains what he thinks of the new look: 'With the publication of Abyss Beyond Dreams we came to a decision point. Was there going to be a continuation of the previous cover style, or a change to something different. I’ve had space hardware on my covers for about twenty years now, so I was delighted when my editor told me that Tor were going to try something new. When the roughs for Abyss came in it was a perfect update in style and feel, without taking away any of the books' SF heritage. No surprise then, following that, when the verdict came in to rejacket the earlier books to match. It also gave us the opportunity to feature the main characters from all the Commonwealth books, again a nice break from what had gone before.'
And it's not just the front covers of the books that have had an overhaul. The spines are amazing - with lines that will follow the entire series and create a hugely dynamic effect when lined up on the shelf together (and didn't poor James spend some time creating those?!). We also have inside printing and lots of nice finishes, including on the back covers. You can tell we're really proud of these. :-)
And there's more: a slipcased editiion which is a thing of true beauty, and revamped audio and ebook editions. Now we're looking at the rest of the backlist to see what we can do with that! So which cover do you like best?