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You can't judge a book by its cover, they say, but when it actually comes to real books, can that be true? Look at the covers in a bookshop and you'll probably conclude that a great amount of forethought and creativity has gone into the better book covers.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Artist at work ... Bob busy with the cover design.

The old adage about the book covers was highlighted by Conor Charlton, of the Shaw Academy, the other day. He's one of the wise men at Shaw Academy, the online social media tutoring company, trying to help our writer grasp the fundamentals of that strange contemporary oddity/rage, social media.

'Do you have a good cover for the front of the book?' Conor asked. 'It would be good to present this visually.'

Obviously Conor agrees that a book cover is important.

Lack of funds

There's very little money available to launch Sailing to Purgatory, as the story quickly reveals. However, no money certainly doesn't mean a lack of desire for a great book cover.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Stormy weather

Time to call on my old friend - not so old, of course - Brighton artist Bob Abrahams, (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) who years ago created the brilliant colour scheme for Spirit of Pentax which carried me around the world solo.

Here's the progress of the covers that Bob designed.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
All shipshape ... Bob gives the battling yacht a more seamanlike look.

The brief was to create a storm scene with the yacht, Sal, star of Sailing to Purgatory, battling for survival in the Southern Ocean.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Oops, that mainsail ... The reefed sail needs tidying.

Bob lives a stone's throw from the sea, but the Southern Ocean is a wild sea that makes even an English Channel's mid-Winter storm more like a traditional mill pond.

The first possibility proved rather too bright and not wild enough to depict the scenes from Sailing to Purgatory's late chapters.

Introducing Sofie

The second try brought a much darker, much more realistic mirror of the Roaring Forties. This time, Bob introduced Sofie, the yachtswoman who I hoped would join me at the other end of the voyage.

However, at this stage of the voyage, and the book, whether Sofie will or won't make the break is very doubtful, as the story reveals.

So the portrait of Sofie needs to be softened, to seem more like wildly hoped for dream.

Yacht Sal is a beamy thirty-eight footer, and the second image doesn't really represent her speed-encouraging width.

Bob widened the beam, brought the yacht forward in the stormy portrait, and tidied the reefed mainsail on the mast.

And suddenly, there was the cover. I liked it, friends gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up, and the publishers, Olympia, enthused over it, too.

Thanks very much for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.

Links:
Conor Charlton - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Bob Abrahams - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.