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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Urban Fantasy Author P N Burrows: Why Book Covers are So Important

Why Book Covers are So Important.

New authors and those with empty pockets often scuttle their book launches with poor quality and non-genre specific book covers. I am not being insulting to authors, I did it myself when I first set out.

My first novel, ‘Mineran Influence’ published in 2016, is a science fiction story that starts off in rural Wales. A popular UK publishing company created the cover. One I learnt later is actually a Vanity Publisher. The book has an image of fields with a nebula in the sky. It looked lovely, in my naivete I was thrilled.

The cover does not scream out ‘I AM SCIENCE FICTION’ and therefore it fails miserably in its primary role. This book will be republished next year with a new Sci-Fi themed cover, it’s currently in a queue for a professional copyedit.

‘Amazon has a cover designer’, I hear you cry, ‘why pay for one?’ The answer is simple: a professional cover designer will create a unique-looking book cover that piques the reader’s interest. It shows the genre, it teases your storyline with quality artwork, it says you cared enough about your book to invest in a proper designer.

A professional will understand the current genre trends. They can blend several images together and apply mood enhancers, whether it be smoke, fog or an ethereal glow of some sort. An important feature of a professional designer, as opposed to an economy designer, is that you know they have bought the licence to use the images for your cover. Most book covers start with one or more photographs that are enhanced to fit your theme. Some budget designers who are not from your country will not care about your copyright laws and leave you with a book cover that could get you sued. I have seen it happen.

A cover must convey the genre, it must still look attractive when viewed as a thumbnail on an online bookstore and it must follow the trend for your genre. Romance books look alike at a distance, but you know instantly that it is a romance novel. If you read that genre you will be drawn to the book that screams ‘I am Romance! I fill you need, you want the same, but different.’

People judge a book by its cover, but they also judge the author too. If you created a cheap cover, it makes them wonder how much did you paid for the proofread and copy edit. They may even wonder if you had it edited at all.

by P N Burrows
Dark Urban Fantasy
The wizard, known simply as Jarrod, has been living covertly amongst humans for over a decade. As a Professor at the University of Magic on his own planet, Prushal, he is ostensibly on Earth to research humanity’s ancient magic. But the university’s council no longer trust his motives and want him back.

Jarrod’s peaceful guise as an expert in historical artefacts is shattered as he becomes embroiled in a series of gruesome demonic murders where he becomes the prime suspect. With pressure mounting, he doesn’t have much time to confront the demon’s knight, and clear his name. An unlikely alliance forms between Jarrod and Detective Widcombe as she and the wizard work to uncover the real murderer and the evil he is unleashing on mankind.

Jarrod closed the door to his apartment and sighed. Brushing his hand over the copper branch he smiled, happy to be home. The volume of police that had encircled the crime scene was quite impressive. Unfortunately for Jarrod, the Senior Investigating Officer insisted that he remain to give a statement, which was then verified by Detective Widcombe.

Leaning with his back against the apartment's wall, Jarrod closed his eyes and breathed in, held his breath for a second and breathed out. He was home, his small sanctum amongst the turmoil of this dangerous world. His calm and safe place. Breathe in, breathe out. Jarrod allowed his mental guards to fall, pushing the stresses of the day out of his mind. With his eyes still closed Jarrod held out his umbrella and hooked it onto a gnarly tree branch, the vibration caused the copper leaves to chime as they jiggled. It wasn't a real tree of course; it was one of seven metallic sculptures scattered around his home, encompassing the exterior walls with their branches.

Jarrod placed the heavy box that he had received from Barry onto an oak table. It landed with a thud. Peeling back the tape from the lid, he lifted the first copper leaf from the packaging. Holding it by the stem, Jarrod lifted it towards the light, appreciating Barry's craftsmanship. Gently flicking the metal object with his fingernail, the intricately crafted leaf rang out with a perfect D-flat tone. It was a work of art all on its own. Barry created each leaf in his workshop and while he could not play the piano, he could match the sound of the leaves to the keys on his wife's old keyboard. 'Perfect Barry, absolutely lovely,' Jarrod commented aloud. The quality of work was far beyond his own meagre skills.

Removing a coin from his pocket, Jarrod pushed his mind's eye outwards, towards the talisman, feeling for the energy stored within. Touching the coin to the leaf, Jarrod shaped the magical energy with his mind, focusing the raw brutal energy from the universe, changing it, reshaping it, moulding it into a delicate spell. With precision honed over many decades, Jarrod transferred the energy into the copper leaf. The spell was an adaptation of the first incantation they teach new students at the University of Magic, a protective ward. The fragile leaf hummed at the infusion of magic and metal. Pressing the stem of the leaf to the branch, Jarrod used the energy to forge a bond fusing the two together. The leaf glowed and the nearby foliage chimed, almost as if welcoming the newcomer. The fragile talisman joined thousands of others around the apartment, all protecting Jarrod from intrusion, whether it be magic, demonic or electronic.

As he picked up another leaf, Jarrod reminisced back to his student days. On Prushal, where he came from, all people have the ability to perform magic at some level. Some may only be able to ignite tinder or form an orb of light on a dark night. Others, like Jarrod, have abilities that go far beyond this. Each magician, sorcerer or those with a predilection or gift to magic, was born with an affinity to two metals: one to be used for passive spells, such as protection, or items that needed to be invoked at a later date. The other metal was for active spells, where the output was apparent and manifested itself at the time of casting. In the younger adolescents, active incantations were frequently seen during playful duels. As children, they were all taught that the power of magic comes from the universe itself, the primordial energy that created everything. All children are taught how to tune themselves into that power and how to focus and shape it for casting. Spells, incantations and tools are all designed to tune the wizard's mind, to focus it to a specific point where it can accomplish the task. Over time, those adept at magic can cast the spells without the flamboyant accessories, their minds remembering how to focus, a cerebral muscle memory. Performing magic also depletes energy from the user; those who practice the darker forms steal this energy from those around them.

Jarrod had unfortunately been born with an affinity for the low-class metals of copper and iron. His mental ability for magic far outstripped his birth metal's ability to hold or focus such energy and so his spells often burnt through the receptacle or focusing tool that he had been training with. It was unheard of in Jarrod's society for anyone at the level of wizard to be hampered with one base metal, let alone two and yet Jarrod had attained that level and more. Stumbling across a meteorite while out walking, Jarrod felt his energy course into the charred fragment. Like a sponge, it absorbed his magical energy and then some; Jarrod had passed out, drained.

With the aid of metal from the heavens — and much work — Jarrod found that he could forge and cast spells with ease. He never told a soul about his discovery.

About the Author:
P N Burrows lives on a rather wet mountain in rural Wales. Phil has worked in a variety of roles over the years from IT Consultant to a Business Advisor. In his spare time, he loves to read and particularly enjoys crime thrillers. He also enjoys working his way through a comprehensive bucket list that he and his partner have created; they can frequently be found dancing the Lindy Hop.

P N Burrows has also written a 5 book science fiction series starting with the Mineran Influence and a children’s diversity picture called Emily and Her Mums.

Virtual Book Tour - November 1 - November 30
November 1 - RABT Book Tours - Kick Off
November 2 - Liliyana Shadowlyn - Spotlight
November 3 - I Smell Sheep - Guest Post
November 4 - Book Junkiez - Spotlight
November 7 - Susan's Book World - Spotlight
November 8 - Book Junkiez - Excerpt
November 9 - Book Reviews by Virginia Lee - Spotlight
November 10 - Where Landsquid Fear to Tread - Excerpt
November 11- Books Blog - Spotlight
November 14 - The Indie Express - Review
November 15 - Nana's Book Reviews - Spotlight
November 16 - A Life Through Books - Interview
November 17 - Tea Time and Books - Spotlight
November 18 - Novel News Network - Review
November 21 - Crossroad Reviews - Spotlight
November 22 - The Avid Reader - Interview
November 23 - I Love Books and Stuff - Excerpt
November 25 - Momma Says to Read or Not to Read - Spotlight
November 28 - On a Reading Bender - Review
November 29 - Texas Book Nook - Review
November 30 - Valerie Ullmer - Excerpt
November 30 - RABT Reviews - Wrap Up

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