Cover Draft for The Long Guest

It’s Monday! Time for some art!

Today I present my mock-up for the cover of The Long Guest.

What is Normal for the Genre

TLG is in a genre of epic sci-fi/fantasy that is light on magic. Often books in this genre have an evocative landscape on the cover, to draw you into the world of the book. For example, this copy of Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness shows the icy landscape through which her characters travel …

On this cover for S.M. Stirling’s A Meeting at Corvallis, there is a lot of detail to show exactly what sort of world is contained in the covers. The broken asphalt and the ruined skyscrapers in the background show that this is a post-apocalyptic world. Meanwhile the horse and buggy, and the main character’s battle axe and chain mail, show that in this world, we use medieval technology. Finally, the man’s battle gear leads you to expect combat.

Often books in this genre will show one or more main characters, usually in only a semi-active pose. This particular one, unlike some of Stirling’s other books, shows the character face-on. I don’t prefer this as a reader, because I prefer to form my own mental picture of the character.

A good example is this copy of Jean M. Auel’s The Valley of Horses, which shows Ayla from behind. We’ve already been told that Ayla is tall and blond, so this doesn’t do too much damage to our mental picture of her. Notice the other hints at the important parts of the plot: the wild horses, the rugged mountains, and Ayla’s sling.

So I would like the cover of The Long Guest to look something like this. Nimri (sitting on the ground) and Zillah look at the unfinished, scaffolding-covered Tower. Grasses in the foreground hint at the steppes they will soon traverse. You get a general sense of what they look like (Nimri’s beard, Zillah’s bun), but are left to imagine their faces.

Obviously, my painting has less detail than the two examples above.

Here it is with a different title font …

And here, courtesy of photoshop tools, is a version with duller colors. I kind of like this one, but am concerned that it makes the book look like a horror story, which it isn’t.

The spine would look something like this.

What do you guys think? What kinds of covers do you expect on your fantasy books?

Postscript: Quick & Dirty Mock-Ups with Other Fonts

with Film Cryptic
with Goblin Hand

13 thoughts on “Cover Draft for The Long Guest

  1. ahester1

    Eek!!! I love the cover art!!! The placement looks well thought-out. The bright red is absolutely fantastic, really fitting for an epic. I agree that the muted one looks like horror. I love how Nimri and Zillah came out and that you don’t give details away. Their silhouettes with reflected light are so good!

    The font on the first one looks better to me, size and shape-wise, though I’d suggest for it to be a little lighter for more contrast and easier readability. In the examples of the other books you showed they used more even fonts (letters even in size), I wonder if there’s something to that or if it’s just an effect of the sample size.

    The spine idea looks really good to me! I love the tower in the background and the color contrast with the field silhouetted at the front.

    Fabulous work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind feedback! You are right, in the other examples, the titles are actually in block caps. I couldn’t find a block caps option in the paint program I was using. Obviously I am going to need some help with fonts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Benjamin Ledford

    I really like that cover. Great job. I’m not sure about the font, though. I like the first font better, but I feel like it could do more to set the atmosphere.

    Some ideas? I just searched for “Ancient” on 1001 Free Fonts. 🙂

    Film Cryptic:
    Kelt Caps:
    Goblin Hand:

    Again, really great work.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. I was just using the fonts that were available in the paint program I happened to have on my computer. I would like one that looks more like cuneiform or something … though I will have to make sure that it’s a font that can carry through the other two books as well. I’ll see whether I can figure out how to utilize the ones you linked to.


        1. I figured out how to install the fonts you sent. Film Cryptic and Goblin Hand look good. I don’t want to get too cuneiform-y, come to think of it, because in later books we will leave Sumeria. Generic, somewhat ancient-looking block caps might be the ticket.

          Never thought about using you to format my cover design! Expect to be mooched off of soon. Said the linguist.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. ahester1

    The color of the font is so much better! I like both fonts, though our favorite over here is the Goblin Hand. I’m so excited for you, it’s finally coming together!


  4. Jen,

    I like the last one the best. The Title pops better than others, and without the red hue it somehow seems friendlier. I really had to stare at your portrayal of Nimri to figure out what it was.

    You spine mock-up looks too chubby, unless it’s a very thick book. Overall I think your art will work fine.


    Liked by 1 person

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