While perusing the books of friends on GoodReads.com, I was arrested by the cover of J. Michael Wahlgren's chapbook, Chariots of Flame (Maverick Duck Press). I asked him who'd done the artwork, and he said British artist Brian Pike.
Although I helped my editor at Alondra Press, an independent publisher, develop the concept for my novel's cover — a photo of the Sahara Desert where The Wind Thief begins — it wasn't until I saw Mr. Wahlgren's book that I realized this is the advice all of us authors could use: be on the lookout for eye-catching design concepts that capture the tone of the books we're working to publish.
This is particularly true for the small press publishing experience where authors are an integral part of the process and work closely with publishers from manuscript editing to printing. Often these companies don't have much of a design budget and so appreciate cost-effective suggestions from their authors.
Since my epiphany, I've started collecting the names and URLs of artists whose art I admire. Then if and when the day comes when their art fits the book I'm writing, I can suggest their work to my publisher. Even if I never get that opportunity, a keener focus on the art world will allow me to indulge my love of art while spreading the word about artists who, like us authors, can almost always use the promotion.
Here are a few of the artists on my list (their art is displayed in the order of their names):
• Lacey Bryant
• Julie Bilyeu
• Janet Snell, who along with her sister, Cheryl, run an independent press called Scattered Light.