It’s taken a while to get right, but I have now completed the cover for my debut novel, The Sleeping Warrior: the very first book published by Ivy Moon Press.
For those who don’t know Scotland well, the Sleeping Warrior is a well-kent profile of the Isle of Arran’s most dramatic mountains (ie, Goat Fell, Caisteal Abhail and Cìr Mhòr), seen from the Clyde Coast. From the mainland, they resemble a recumbent man.
I had been writing the book for a while but it was a trip to Arran that gave me the title, which fitted perfectly with the story.
The Sleeping Warrior can loosely be described as an urban fantasy. In some ways, it reads like a crime novel and police procedural, but it is the gentle fantasy elements that are intended to stretch across the literary genres and nudge the imagination. Purist crime readers may find the fantasy element irritating, but those who can relate to a sense of other-worldliness may get the subtleties and hopefully enjoy it.
The story centres around a young female London lawyer who unwittingly finds herself the focus of the wrath of a serial killer and the interest of an enigmatic stranger called Gabriel.
Set in London, Arran, and briefly in the North West Highlands of Scotland, the book’s underlying themes are the importance of a name as a label and the warrior spirit which lies dormant in us all until times of crisis when it awakens.
With this in mind, a good book design must encapsulate the spirit of the story.
I started with my image of Arran’s familiar landmark and blackened it to give it mystery. The smoke signifies the veil of anonymity and the unknown, while a dark eye watches from the background. The picture tells the story.
Fonts can make or break a good design. You can mix serif (those fonts with curly descenders or ‘tails’ as in Times New Roman and Garamond) and sans serif (those ‘without’ a curly tail, such as in Arial or Calibri) but only with caution. I like the crisp and clean look of a sans serif headline or chapter head against serif body text. Never use more than two different typefaces in a design, it just looks wrong. Professional publishers hate the ‘joke’ fonts, like Comic Sans and Jokerman, for obvious reasons. Comic is OK for a poster advertising Charlie the Cheery Clown coming to a children’s gala but has no place in the make-up of a novel – unless, of course, the story is about Charlie the Cheery Clown at a children’s gala.
Not wishing to get into trouble with the law, I chose fonts that are free for commercial use. For the cover, I used VTCGoblinhand for the title and Trebuchet MS for the subtitle and byline. The spine font was limited to Create Space’s choice but it is a regular sans serif, probably Calibri, and bears an acceptable similarity to the Trebuchet family. Free fonts can be obtained from sites all over the internet. Just make certain before downloading and installing them that they are not limited to personal use only. Using a font that specifically states it is not for commercial use is a breach of copyright.
For the interior of the book, I’ve used Garamond 11pt for the body text and the beautifully rounded ss font Century Gothic 20pt bold for the chapter heads. A point size down is preferable for the text but I saved the file as a pdf which is really an uneditable ‘snapshot’ of the completed manuscript. Since a pdf is, to all intents and purposes, a picture file, there’s a choice to allow for a printable margin around it. Choosing this option not only brings the point size down (as the picture will shrink to fit), but also keeps the text within the confines of the book’s margins.
I’m awaiting the printed proofs from Create Space and need to register the book’s ISBN.