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Author of New Pompeii & The Synapse Sequence

The Calculations of Rational Men was the first cover that I had any input into designing. The cover for my previously self-published book (Johnny Max and the Panther’s Skull) was provided to me, and I never achieved the success with traditional publishing to have any sort of say (but fortunately was more than happy with the covers that Titan produced!).

So, I had to make a decision about how to approach it. My first attempt was done using PowerPoint and is below. Fortunately, when I showed it to my editor she laughed thinking I was joking and then reacted in horror when she realised I wasn’t and quickly encouraged me to get something more professional! (Thank you, Ella!)

Undeterred, I prepared a brief for my cover artist (Lucy Sykes) and she quickly came back with a mood board taken from 1960s propaganda pieces from which we then brainstormed two alternative designs based on our keywords from the blurb (which is the only thing that remains from my cover design above).

From these two options we took some soundings and then plumped for the final design. The desperate hand reaching up was Lucy’s idea, and my editor came up with the tag line. Because I hadn’t got any early quotes we couldn’t use any but, to be honest, quotes used on books these days often say little about the book and have become so well-worn, generic and cliched as to be meaningless - so instead I wanted a concept driven cover.

I know people will have different views on all things like this, but I’m very happy with how it turned out!