It’s time to work on cover art for The First Assassin. With my three previous books, I’ve played at best a minor role in the design. In this case, however, I have a definite concept in mind. It involves an 1861 photo of the Capitol, when the dome was under construction.
Covers are tricky. They must convey an idea through an image and they need to do it quickly. When potential readers browse the front tables of bookstores, they probably devote at most one or two seconds to any given title, as they decide whether to pick it up or move on. A cover must grab their attention, let them know if it’s fiction or nonfiction, what genre or category it belongs in, and so on.
My cover needs to say that The First Assassin is a historical thriller set primarily in Washington, D.C. during the Civil War era. It has less time to communicate this message than it took you to read this sentence.
I’ve now seen three cover possibilities. Each mock-up has its strengths. There’s a lot to mull over: color scheme, font type, should the cover have a little tag that says “a novel” or “a thriller”? I’m about to write a memo to the designer.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we all do. First impressions matter. I’m determined to have The First Assassin make a good one.