Red Ned Tudor Mysteries

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fiction, Its Great to be Published, now buy it Please?

Fiction, Its Published; now buy it, Please?

Or A Cover! A Cover! My Kingdom for a Cover! Part 2

Good day my well regarded viewers, I hope this missive finds you all in excellent health, just a few days short of the yuletide festival. To those of my dear readers in the northern climes it’s in this local a balmy 20 degrees Celsius, way above freezing and the nearest snow is on a mountain peak fifty kilometres away. Sorry just had to rub that in, Aussie humour and all that. Though I doubt we’ll be Yuletiding on the beach with prawns and lobsters. Instead we’re adopting a more continental approach, spicy Italian sausages with the humble mashed potato (courtesy of our good friend and business associate Sir Walter Raleigh) blended with mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, smoked capsicums, fresh basil, lightly fried shallots and bacon.

Yumm Dessert!

Then the meal topped off subtley wise with homemade lemon ice cream or white chocolate gelato and a healthy tankard of Badger’s vintage ale. Yummmm! I must remember to ensure that the medical chest is packed full of the overindulgence remedies, the ones made completely without dried and powdered leeches. Not so efficacious in any way!
Now after that little gastronomic festive digression back to the wonderful world of book covers!

Book Covers ... Quality vs Quantity

Now in the last instalment we had a very humorous look at headless bimbos courtesy of that doyen of dastardly deviousness Richard III. Wasn’t he perfect as an example of how an image can shape perceptions? As I will be outlining in I think book six of the Red Ned series we’ll be exploring the moment in time when King Richard Plantagenet was transformed from the unfortunate loser in a family inheritance dispute to the hunchbacked red handed slayer of children and widows the equal of Stalin.
So Richard didn’t kill the princes in the Tower, but he looks so mean and evil?

Its the image thing, it worked for Shakespeare so how can it work for you? Now as we know the publishing industry employs a legion of high trained and skilled graphics artists and consultants. All paid top dollar to produce the best designs for covers and advertising required to promote their valued and respected authors.
Sorry my apologies I really must stop wolfing down those chocolate coated coffee beans! I get too carried away.


Opphs slipped again! Sorry, back to the land of reality. Publishing is, as the board of directors frequently tell the shareholders a business, as such it is in theory out to make a profit and in many ways is indistinguishable from any other profit driven company.
Thus all the rigmarole surrounding the publishing of your book is supposed to be based on sound business practises and principles. Or so goes the theory in a perfect universe as defined by modern MBA textbooks, real life however is not so crystal clear. Skilled, efficient staff and perceptive managers are as rare in publishing as in any other business, while incompetence and stupidity is spread around in generous measure like everywhere else. So unless you’re an author with a name like Cussler or Rowling you’ll get little chance to influence the way your work is ‘marketed’. In fact on most writer forums that single issue of presentation is the most common complaint, closely followed by slow payments. Well we’re interested in only a small section of this cover discussion, the wonderful world of Tudor fiction!

Tudor Covers

The Tudor Genre stretches quite a way, from the end of the Wars of the Roses to the Stewart assumption of the English crown by James VI of Scotland in 1603. Within one hundred and twenty odd years we have a vast diversity and wealth of paintings, woodblock prints, drawings, architecture, costumes and fabrics. So why I have to ask is the book cover art so dreadful? The cover can be the window into the soul of the story which is a cute paraphrase of Elizabeth’s ‘a window into the soul of her subjects’ quote regarding spaying and treason. So leaving out the large selection of headless bimbo’s we looked at in part one, what do I believe is a good cover to serve as an inspiration for my design The Cardinals Angels?

Amazon is your Friend?

You’d think that search for book covers in the digital age is an easy task. Not so, the Amazon site is very useful except that it lacks a detailed search engine which leaves you trawling through thousands of hits. I can be very enlightening if you have several hours.

Google is your Friend?

You’d think so with image search, but no. However they’ve reconfigured it makes every search a clumsy lucky dip that brings up the strangest collection of images. I mean to say how can typing in ‘Tudor Book Cover’ bring up an image of two scantily clad young girls and a well endowed darkish gentleman with a goat? The imagination boggles!

Quality Tudor Images!

As per the specification for the headless bimbos the following selection is based on attractive, relevant and engaging covers in other words good quality Tudor eye candy!

Contestant 1
The first off the list is the just released The Marlowe Conspiracy by MG Scarsbrook.
As you can see the cover is based on an Elizabethan period painting the original is believed to be of Marlowe and is in Corpus Christi College Cambridge. It has been shifted across to half obscure and possibly the background darkened. With red evocative text it does more than hint at Marlowe’s occupation as a spy and intelligencer. I feel this image invites you to open it up and indulge in Marlowe’s dangerous secrets, ones that may have led to his eventual murder in Deptford. Thus I’d score this one highly.

Contestant 2
Heartstone by CJ Sansom, now at this stage I must lay my cards on the table, with a slight digression I had just completed five straight non stop weeks of writing The Cardinals Angels, first draft and laid out the synopsis of the next ten books when I did a general Amazon search for more Tudor resources. All of a sudden up pops Sansom’s book about a Tudor lawyer serving Cromwell and I felt so gutted. Damn someone’s already used my entire story and they got it published! ARRGH!! To be honest I only brought myself to read Dissolution three weeks ago (five years after first draft) and breathed quiet sigh of relief, his work and character is very different from mine and though both are set in the same period they work at opposite ends of the social spectrum. I do not want to be charged with plagiarism after battling against it

Back to Heartstone I have seen two different versions of this cover the fist one pictures here is a simple close up shot of the cast Tudor Rose on top of a bronze cannon. The second version has the rose painted, which tended to be common for display. Both images are effective since Sansom’s character is as the title says off to war. On the whole it is a good cover that engages the viewer’s curiosity though a slightly more perspective view along the barrel may have given it more depth. I would score this one moderately highly. I have also included three other of Sansom’s good quality covers as a general idea of the style and design that will be employed for a successful author.

Contestant 3ish
This collection of images is off a set of Tudor period novels, I know nothing about their story line or author but they appealed to me as good quality compositions probably for the young adult ranged market. Nothing specatular, but competently done with simple elements of the storyline. grouped together In my opinion reasonably good for what they are.

Contestant 4
The Serpents Garden I know absolutely nothing about this author or her novels, what drew me to include it was its compositional style which I found interesting and a good balance of period images and design. Rather than demand attention it invites the reader to discover the meaning behind the collection of diverse pictures. I’d score this one in the moderate range.

Contestant 5
The Tudor Secret I CW Gortner once more I know absolutely nothing about this author or their novels, I included it since they didn’t quite cut off the heads and at least made an effort at Tudor costumes and an attempt at image improving, however I’m not sure it works. I leave rating of this one to my viewers

Contestant 6
Sacred Treason by James Forrester As I walked past the shelves of my local library this one positively leapt out demanding to be read. The red wax Tudor seal really draws the eye and the burnished gold script at the top is quite alluring giving off hints of reflected precious metal in candle light. The red brown of the cover evokes old leather books while the faded lettering behind the seal hints of hidden secrets and ciphers. Of all of the covers this one impressed me the most, it is both alluring and intriguing. To be honest it pressed all the buttons for a great Tudor fiction cover. In my opinion this is the winner and in part 3 you’ll see why.

As the good doctor says keep taking the pills!
And Happy Waeshael !!!


  1. Ironically, one cover you gave high praise to (The Marlowe Conspiracy) has a head that is cut in half--vertically.

  2. True, but at least they used a period image without distorting or ruining it, we must be thankful for small mercies