Starborn Artwork Reveal: The Evolution of a Cover

I’m delighted to at last reveal the cover for Lucy Hounsom’s epic debut fantasy—Starborn. And it’s epic indeed! It’s the first book in the Worldmaker trilogy, it’s out in the UK in hardback/ebook, on 23rd April and we’ll have a launch at first edition specialists Goldsboro Books on 30th April. I just can’t wait to see a stack of those bookish beauties once the precious tomes are printed.

And as it’s such a fine cover, I wanted to share a bit more about its evolution. Each stage takes time, a lot of different people and there is plenty of behind the scenes polishing, commenting and tweaking.

We started off the process with a briefing meeting, where I briefed our Art Department on some cover direction ideas. For this, I did picture research (and yes, stars featured fairly heavily…) and looked into what books future fans of Starborn might be reading. I also chatted to Lucy about her thoughts, inspirations and Pinterest boards so I could incorporate her thoughts into that brief. The cover copy also took time to get right and was rewritten more than once, before being passed by our editorial services team in-house. They suggested further changes before it was shown to the author to approve.

Starborn Lucy Hounsom

Then, once Art had cogitated upon the cover briefing presentation and rather hefty briefing document, Jo Thompson came up with a rough (seen above). This was to give a basic idea of the final cover, but the difference between this and the final thing is striking. However, the plan was always to do a photo shoot to really capture main character, Kyndra.

We also did an early exclusive proof copy for Waterstones:

Starborn Lucy Hounsom

For the next stage, our in-house designer Jo Thompson gathered materials to dress our Kyndra at the photo shoot. We also looked at an absolute heap of model profiles, trying to get just the right fit for the cover. And we all agreed on our final choice, going for Lucy’s favourite in the end. Photographer Colin Thomas really did us proud here too, and here’s a shot from the photo shoot, plus a closer look at some of the props:

Starborn Lucy Hounsom


Starborn Lucy Hounsom


Then finally, after much additional work, Jo Thompson showed me the final cover:

Starborn Lucy Hounsom

Starborn Lucy Hounsom

It was one of those moments where I just thought—yes, that’s really it! It’s atmospheric, striking and has a sense of dignity and drama. Jo has done a really terrific job and Lucy was over the moon about it (or should that be stars?). And the painterly font and added stars look lovely—especially when you imagine the gold font on the title and those stars.

On that gold foil, I even got to choose it—prevented with a veritable chocolate box of shiny options.

Starborn Lucy Hounsom

Goldsboro books is going to be stocking some signed first editions, which is wonderful news. And here’s a sneak peek at the title page for this special edition only:

Starborn Lucy Hounsom

I can’t wait to see the final thing after all this work from so many people—so I can’t imagine how Lucy must be feeling. And I’ll want to appreciate that special fresh book smell—but that now, might be too much information!

Bella Pagan is a senior commissioning editor, working on out-of-this world SF, fantasy and urban fantasy (plus other subdivisions, factions and associated areas) for Tor UK. On twitter as @BellaPagan.


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