Here’s the cover for White Sky, the first volume of In the Shadow of the She-Wolf. The cover was ready some time ago, and it’s the final copy edits that have ended up taking more time than I’d anticipated. I’m rather surprised at how many little things I’ve found that I want to tweak in a manuscript that has already been pored over countless times, over a span of many years. (Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, considering how much of a perfectionist I am!) 😮
One thing that’s made it tricky is trying to approach the edits as if the book were written by someone else, and putting on that last polish — clearing up spots that could be even smoother or clarifying small details — without trying to change the author’s style. Repeatedly trying to update the manuscript to match the growth and evolution of my style is what put me in danger of spending my entire life writing and rewriting the same book in the first place(!), so there had to be a place to draw a line. To find that balance, I’m certainly trying to make the book the best it can be, but I’m also endeavoring to respect the younger version of myself who wrote it. As I once mentioned here, I believe you have to look at it like an artist who can show off their paintings and remark that some were done in their blue phase or their abstract phase — which they’ve moved on from — and still be proud of those paintings and the way they reflect that stage of their journey as an artist.
Having this book published by our own small press has of course given me full control over the cover design, which is something I’d never imagined having, since most publishers don’t give authors any say in the matter. After years of visualizing this novel in print and imagining a typical SF cover (such as an image of Jem brandishing a Zendi gun, with or without some of the other characters behind him), I was fully reconciled to the fact that it might end up with a cover that’s a bit cheesy (though I’d say some SF covers are cheesy in a pretty cool way!) With the issue in my own hands, I chose not to go with something that screams SF, but to use a more elegant image that might be equally appropriate for literary fiction, since I think that’s actually a better representation of the final incarnation of the book.
If it were a cover for a literary novel, however, I imagine it probably wouldn’t include the wolf face, only the photo. The shadowy wolf mask represents the entire novel — like a brand — and it appears on all three covers (in different colors). So although I’d originally envisioned more of a large shadow figure looming behind the main image on the cover, when I came up with that idea I realized it would work well for a book in three volumes, helping to tie the cover images together. I’m quite happy with the end result, and I believe it does have the clean, elegant feel I was going for.