Mjkewood got their new book cover by running a design contest:
Design a science fiction book cover with impact
Check out Mjkewood's Book cover contest…
Old Man in a Spacesuit
Mjke is an award-winning short fiction author – Writers of the Future, Jim Baen Memorial Prize – and has written several science fiction novels including the Sphere of Influence series.
The Amazon blurb: Harry Burton – HB to his friends – is a washed-out ex-author. He’s old, he’s knackered, and he’s psychologically fragile, still grieving for his wife, Anouk, who died over a decade earlier. All things considered, as a candidate for First Man on Mars, HB is the wrong stuff. Someone in recruitment evidently screwed up. But while HB would much rather ignore the mistake and sit in his favourite coffee shop, wallowing and pretending to write… He’s curious. What would it be like to train as an astronaut for a Mars mission? This is the stuff he used to write stories about. And he wants to see their faces, when he, a sorry old sack of brittle bones and neuroses, turns up on the space agency’s doorstep responding to their invitation? What would they say? “Welcome”, is what they say. They’re happy to see him. And HB isn’t alone. There are other recruits, his age and with similar unlikely qualifications. Because it turns out there is a logic to sending old people to Mars. Training begins and reawakens a feeling HB thought he’d lost forever. He meets someone, another recruit, Lana. She’s the polar opposite of Anouk, HB’s much missed wife. While Anouk was a free spirit, a mystic, a dream reader, Lana is scientifically grounded, logical, a cosmologist. Despite this, Lana and HB make a connection. It seems she has the power to reconcile the two disparate worlds, of science and mysticism, merging them into one coherent and remarkable theory. Meanwhile, this whole preposterous Mars enterprise is getting serious, gathering pace, and might yet turn out to be more than mere politics and posturing. It might just happen. Further to the blurb – the mission goes ahead and HB and three others do go to Mars. There are problems on Mars which become life threatening, and HB has to head out alone, find hidden reserves in his ageing body, and interpret a decades old dream-reading prophesy from his ex-wife in order to save the lives of his crew mates. The style of this book is lighthearted (rather than the full-on humour of my previous books). It is near-future, 2040 onwards. It is science fiction but with a nod towards those elements of mysticism that become important as the story unfolds.
My target reader, male and female, is probably someone who enjoys golden age sci-fi rather than the darker sci-fi that is more prevalent these days, so perhaps 50+, although I do have younger readers, some even in their early teens. I sell more in the US than the UK (about 85%/15%) even though my style and voice is definitely British.
Book cover type
This book has already been launched, with a cover that I designed myself, so I'm looking for something better. I've attached an image of my own cover design to show what I'm trying to improve upon. For this project I have an idea of a space helmet with the man's face visible, and with reflections of a Mars landscape in the visor, the landscape itself being carried over onto the back cover. The man is late 60s. His face is weathered with a stubbly beard, and he has a wry smile to depict the humour in the story. For HB I envisioned a character that looks a little like Sean Connery. Having said all that, I’ll be happy to see any alternative idea for a cover so long as it sells the story. Although this is a science fiction novel, it would be useful to have some hint of the dream-reading oneiromancy that's in the story, so I wondered if the title font might be adapted for this purpose, perhaps with feathers hanging from the O in Old, to look like a dream catcher. I'm also in the process of writing a sequel, called The Oneiromancer of Mars, and would like the option of approaching the same designer for the second book cover, at a future time, so the cover should have an element of style that will transfer across to the second book in due course. Also, just for reference, I've included an image of the cover for my Deep Space Accountant, as an example of a cover design that I absolutely love.
What to avoid
As you can see from my own original cover, the colour scheme is all wrong for Mars, and the swirling planets and stars are utter nonsense. I don't know what came over me. Too much reliance on stock images, I suppose. I'd like to avoid that. I've included an image of the cover for Ted Chiang's Arrival. This is the kind of thing I have in mind, but it needs an original take, to be different and not just a straight copy that swaps out the woman for an old man.
It all began with a design brief.
A quick, interactive guide helped them understand their design style and captured exactly what they needed in their book cover.
Designers across the globe delivered design magic.
Mjkewood collaborated with designers to refine their ideas
When design entries come in, you can rate them so designers know what you’re looking for in your logo design.
99designs has great collaboration tools so you can pinpoint and capture your ideas
And then… they selected a winner!
Along the way, they met lots of talented designers…
We think contests are a super fun way to get design.
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