Exciting news: the artwork for the cover of Konstantin’s Gifts has been finalized! Check it out:

The title text is preliminary, and may change between now and the actual release...

The artwork was created by the talented Timothy Lantz. I love the slightly disturbing, distracted intensity of Vasya’s expression, love the blend of fire and forest, the hint of slanting moonlight in the top right corner of the image (you’ll note that the header on my blog also makes use of a bit of the graphic from this cover).

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve struggled with branding this book. On the one hand, it’s undoubtedly fantasy. On the other, it’s kind of different to a lot of other fantasy, in that it is set in a world based on 19th-century Russia, complete with serfdom, empire, struggles with encroaching modernity, and the promise/perils of science.

I think covers are really important. Though we shouldn’t judge books by them, we frequently do. When I’m scrolling through screens upon screens of potential reads, an eye-catching cover will prompt me to click through and take a closer look. It is the first thing that a potential reader sees, and it determines whether she will look closer, or simply move on in her search for an engaging read. Covers will also “brand” the book for us. We know, at an intuitive level, the difference between a Fantasy, a Romance, a Thriller, a literary novel, and a Classic. This sense evolves over time as cover designs shift, but if I want to catch the eye of the right subset of reader, who is more likely to be interested in the kind of book I’ve written, I need to figure out 1) what kind of book I happen to have written, 2) who is the potential reader for that book, and 3) what kind of cover will set the right expectations for that reader. I need to package it correctly (this, among other things, is what the third party publisher generally does–determines, with a critical and expert eye, what kind of book has been written and how best to package it).

As you can tell from the above, I’m going with dark fantasy–now I just have to find time to get back to the production process (final editing passes, formatting, and all that other good stuff). Danged school stuff has swamped me for the moment. But, I’m hoping to get back to it soon. I’m still aiming to do the digital release by late December (fingers crossed–big time!). Print, sadly, may have to wait till after that, however…