ARTEFACT & LEGION: Anatomy of a book cover

They say that you should never judge a book by its cover. While that’s true, a kick-ass book cover goes a long way. Yesterday, my publisher Orbit ran an article on their website about the covers of ARTEFACT and LEGION. You can read the full article here, but today I’m going to discuss my involvement.

First, there was ARTEFACT

So how does the process start for an author? When I first signed up with Orbit, ARTEFACT’s cover was one of the many topics of discussion. Being a first-time author the idea of having a proper, bona fide cover was one of the most exciting aspects of the publishing process! The publishers considered a number of ideas, and quickly decided on a starship.

This was a smart choice. Let’s face it: starships are exciting. Nothing says sci-fi adventure like a big-ass space ship… If you’ve read either of my books (and if not, you really should!), you’ll know that I love describing the technology of this world. I had plenty of descriptive material, both lifted from the books themselves and from my ancillary notes. I sent this over to my editor.

It was at this point that Ioan Dumitrescu was briefed. Ioan is an immensely talented artist: just check out his website, or follow him on Twitter. You can read his response to the initial brief on Orbit’s site, but my involvement came about when my editor sent me some sketches prepared by Mr Dumitrescu.


Though these are by necessity far from being finished covers, the sketches immediately engaged my interest! I immediately realised that I needn’t have worried about the covers at all: although we’d never met at that stage, it was apparent to me that Ioan really “got” the vibe of the books. I had another discussion with Orbit about which of these sketches to go with, and the instruction then went back to Ioan.

A few weeks later, the finished product arrived in my inbox…

LAZARUS WAR: ARTEFACT final coverfinal-3[2][2]
















I was at work when I received the email, and I remember my reaction on seeing it. Man, I was blown away!

The image is of the UAS Oregon, the starship to which Captain Harris and his simulant team are assigned. Part of the Alliance Navy, and a ship of the United Americas, Harris describes the Oregon as a “compact assault cruiser”: she’s fast, brutal and well-armed, but equally she’s no warship. Aside from the hardware, Ioan has really achieved a great colour balance here, and despite the Oregon being a deep-space transport Ioan has captured a sense of urgency and speed.

Here’s the finished cover:

The Lazarus War: ARTEFACT

Next came LEGION

For this book, my editor suggested that perhaps we have a Krell bio-ship on the cover. I sent through some ideas, and received some early sketches.


The interesting thing about this process, and about descriptive prose in general, is that everyone has their own interpretation: everyone’s vision is different. Ioan’s sketches were close to how I’d imagined the Krell, but also tantalisingly different. Once again, I was really drawn in by these early images. They captured the Krell’s enigmatic nature.

LAZARUS WAR: LEGION Krell bio-ships

Here’s an early mock up of the image that we went with…


A few short weeks later, and the finished cover image was sent through to me. I actually think that Ioan topped the cover of ARTEFACT when he drew LEGION!


This cover has so much going for it. In both ARTEFACT and LEGION, the Krell are an implacable, relentless enemy. They have something in common with sharks: cold and incalculable, willing to wait for the right moment to launch an attack. This image captures all of those qualities! The cover clearly shows a starship, but also something alien and warped – with a certain serenity at odds with the firepower than the bio-ship is capable of unleashing.

I’m really happy with how these covers have turned out, and I hope that you like them too. They really capture the action of ARTEFACT and LEGION. I’m very excited to see what Ioan does with book three of the LAZARUS WAR series…

ARTEFACT and LEGION are out now in ebook! You can order them at Amazon or any good online retailer. The series continues in November 2015 with the novella REDEMPTION – available for pre-order now!

LEGION and ARTEFACT book covers

In other news, I am going to start updating my blog more regularly. I’m planning on at least once-weekly posts (probably on a Friday), so check back often!

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