The one most worrisome aspect of each book I published was the front cover. Could I ever design a catchy one?
As it turned out, all three were easier than I thought. Perhaps my background as an amateur photographer helped. But what helped the most were nameless, faceless graphic artists provided by publishers.
When the step-by-step publishing process comes to the cover art, it begins with a detailed questionnaire about the information and mood that needs to be conveyed. Afterwards sample photos are requested. I chose to combine two images with each one of my covers.
With Mark to Murder I already had a shot I myself had taken of the nighttime splendor of the Chain Bridge and Buda Palace that form the backdrop to most of the story. A night image was also essential to convey a mood of perilous mystery.
The other concept I wanted to convey was that of a dead body in a bathtub. The one image that immediately popped into my mind was a famous French Revolution painting entitled The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David (1793). Nowadays it resides in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels.
I sent my photo of Budapest and The Death of Marat to the graphic artist and asked him/her to combine them, requesting an emphasis on the right arm hanging down (some have likened this feature of the painting to Michelangelo’s Pieta).
There is no face-to-face or phone conversation involved. For me the artist is anonymous. Within a few days I received two different proposals from the artist, both well designed.
The one I liked was already much akin to the final result. It took only a bit of tweaking here and there to polish it off. The process took less than two weeks.