Ever wonder who designs the cover of a book? Me, too.
If you go back about twenty years, it was mostly done by the publishing house, often with little input from the author. I remember one cover on a Travis McGee book by the late, great John D. MacDonald. The book was called The Dreadful Lemon Sky and the version I had featured a tandem rotor helicopter on the cover. Being a pilot myself, I wondered how Travis was going to get involved with a helicopter and I kept waiting for it to enter the plot. It never did.
Now that so many books are published digitally, authors are able to design their own covers. Cover design is a special skill, though. The cover has to grab the potential reader visually and suggest the storyline of the book all in about a second and a half. As a result, cover art has exploded into an international business. An excellent company called Damonza designed the covers of the Road King Chronicles books. They operate out of New Zealand and turn out many eye-catching covers. After I contacted them, Damonza came up with the title font and the general look, which I love. They suggested the image in the motorcycle mirror for the first book, but we ended up using it on the second instead. Their clever artists took a photo of my arm and hand on the handlebar of my actual motorcycle and turned it into the image on the cover with the helicopter in the mirror. Take a look at the original photo we started with below, then check out the finished cover of the second book (RKC: Second Hand Snake).
The third book needed a shadow of the motorcycle on the road, so we started with a photo that I took in a parking lot somewhere in Arizona during my travels on the Road King. Here’s that original shot:
You can see how it turned out on the third book, RKC: South Dakota Dead. PhotoShop magic, as practiced by the talented artists at Damonza.