Covering For Mark Williams Part 3 – Athanasios

As we head full-steam into Christmas it’s business as usual for writers, artists and bloggers.

Today one our resident graphic-designers continues his four part series on his approach to cover design, with some insights into how he developed various covers in close liaison with the authors concerned. Not least us!

Athanasios’s aproach is in stark contrast to the way many trad publishers and some small presses handle covers, where they pay no heed to the author’s ideas and present a fait accompli image the writer will hopefuly love, but may hate. If they do, tough.

One of the great joys of being indie is to have control over your book cover, and using graphic designers like Athanasios is a great joy in itself.

When the revamped MWiDP web-site finally goes live early in 2012 there will be a spot for Athanasios and our other designers to showcase their skills. Watch our for that!

Meanwhile, here is the man himself. Take it away, Athanasios!

Covering for Mark Williams – III


In my last two posts I related how I started commenting on book covers listed in facebook groups and evolved into redoing them. Since then I’ve worked with a few indie writers who are happily listing me as their cover artist. I’m also using it as a means to bring more attention to my own Occult/Horror Thriller, Mad Gods.

One was Joshua Corey Mays, for his fantasy work: Terra Ingonita: Book 1-The Abyss. His first cover was a concept drawing he wanted turned into something that resembled an old, tome of magic or a forgotten, forbidden necronomicon. The first image in the example shown is his first cover. The second was my mockUP of the discussed idea with the final being, well the final.

I returned time and again to IWU and ROBUST and gave my opinion on whatever cover was posted for feedback and generally enjoyed the exchange of ideas and camaraderie from all the other indie writers. Some of the covers listed only needed a little tweaking to improve them as in Apolo Drakuvich

while Mind Crafter was a complete from scratch project.

I still kept up my own writing and by late summer I finished Commitment, the sequel to Mad Gods and second in the Predatory Ethics series. Its first cover was a family portrait of an older Adam, one of the main characters of Mad Gods and Melusine Rothschild a new and unspecified ally or villain. She was from a timeless family that wove itself throughout the illuminati and Global Elite of history.

They were paired in a formal and traditional portrait used by nobility throughout the centuries but with colors and stark contrasts that were ominous and dangerous. It was in keeping with the rest of my covers at the time but when I chose to change Mad Gods I also decided to change Commitment to suit its predecessor. Now the twisted and anguished fallen angels of both were representative of the world Adam doesn’t want to be part of.

It was during this time that I was accepted into the fold of MWiDP. Once there I approached Saffina Desforges with my sideline. She looked into my work and let me try the cover for a forthcoming project of spotlighting new indie writers titled Saffina Desforges Presents.

Saffina’s request was:
One ‘Quick Kindle Coffee break reads’ and another that just says, ‘Quick coffee break reads’ We would like (if it is possible) a pile of Kindles and a cup of coffee on top as the main image and for the universal one (i.e. NOT for Kindle) a pile of generic e-readers with the coffee cups.

This request prompted this draft image:

Mark Williams weighed in:
Very interesting! I love the cup and Kindles! This could be really good with some tweaking.

Two issues: One, the lamp dominates the picture, grabbing the eye straight away, when the lamp is incidental to the image. The coffee cup and Kindles are the key elements.

Two, text. Love the text on the cup, but SDP is the big brand selling point and needs to be across top in large letters.

I love SD on the cup, coz that is just so cool, but… we need Saffina Desforges Presents (SD bold, as the brand) across top, and then the final title across bottom on table. Can’t remember what choices we had now. Coffee and Kindle obviously key. Also need to be clear these are short stories, and have Vol 1 tucked away somewhere. Or maybe Vol. 1 on coffee cup? That’s probably an ideal place for it.

Saffina added:
Completely agree with Mark’s comments. Love the theme, but the lamp needs changing (did reply previously to see if we could have a banker’s lamp, smaller, instead?) and the Saffina Desforges Presents needs to be bold text at the top. Agree that the cup is the perfect place for VOL 1 and then somewhere in smaller text (below SD presents… perhaps) A collection of Kindle coffee-break short stories?

OR as Mark says, at the bottom across the table. Would you have a play around and get back to us asap please?

And I replied:
Ok, those are great suggestions. I even found a GREAT background image that’ll invoke A LOT of atmosphere for the cover. I’m very excited about the look of it so far.

I’ll have something up for you by the end of the day. It’s 7:09 AM here in Montreal so you’ll have something back in another few hours.

Which became:

Most recently further volumes of Saffina Desforges Presents are planned and the covers for volumes 2 & 3 are slightly different.

This week I gave a wider variety of covers and the expansion of my own work. Next week will be my final week and I’ll round out my time on Mark’s blog and 2011 by some of the most recent covers I’ve done and, if the authors I’m working with allow me, some covers for books that are just around the corner.

I’m always willing to help with indie authors with their covers. More examples of my work are @: Covers For Hire or email me @:
Athanasios’s webpage is

Athanasios’s Covers For Hire page is

Mad Gods buy pages are &

Commitment buy pages are &

Thanks as ever, Athanasios. And don’t forget he also answers to Tom for all those who struggle with polysyallabic names!

Which begs the question why is the word monolyllabic not monosyllabic?

And that gives me an excuse to end by saying there’s another awkward question over as Saffi’s blog tomorrow, where as part of the Twelve Days of Christmas season I’ll be asking you to explain snow to someone who’s never experienced it.  There are several hundred million people here in West Africa who haven’t had the pleasure of building snowman, throwing snowballs or sledging. Pop over to Saphicscribe tomorrow to have a go.

And be sure to check out Saffi’s guests so far, too. Nick Spalding is there today – . My turn tomorrow, and there’s a great list of top names in the preceding days to catch up on as well!


  1. Another great post, Tom! I am sooooo pleased now, having read this and seen your use of our email exchanges, that I didn’t shout and scream at Mark like I normally do! 😉


  2. Oh I love the tweek of color on the additional volumes of SD presents. :} Such a nice detail touch. :}

    Ah if only I was an artist. Thankfully there good ones out there like you. :}

    :} Cathryn (is a little smily today apparently, *giggles*)

    • josephine wade
    • December 20th, 2011

    Hi Tom,
    I love the different covers. I was curious if the covers you did for SDP was ‘drawn’ by you or if you found a picture you tweaked. I imagine finding something with a pile of Kindles in the background would have been difficult. I love all the small details on that cover — just genius.

    • Thanks for joining us, Josephine.

      You;re right, the details on the SDP covers are pure genius. And I love the different angle shot for the Kindle and non-Kindle versions.

  3. We live in Los Angeles, and until last year, my son hadn’t seen snow. Still hasn’t seen it actually falling, but a long drive can only do so much.

    And when I explained to him he’d never have a snow day from school, he was quite pissed off.

  4. Thanks for a fascinating post. I used a wonderful (and relatively expensive) pro cover designer for my first book, and a local artist for my second two. I got different results, but they were also different books. With the young woman nearby, I can actually sit beside her and talk about tweaking the color, moving elements around, etc., so that gives me quite a lot of control and input into the design. Some advantages there in terms of not having to email back and forth many times. But she also clearly doesn’t have the expertise of the first guy.

    I’m enjoying your series, Athanasios — thank you for sharing your work.

    • We looked at options to get art college students involved in cover design, Patrice, but being on different continents it isn’t so easy.

      So we found Athanasios on yet a third continent instead.

      And our designer for our crime thrillers, Jeroen, lives in New Zealand, so a fourth continent comes into play.

      Not for nothing were my parents called Mr & Mrs International!

  5. I’m so in awe of people who can design like this. It’s not just an artistic gift–I know wonderful artists who can’t design a cover–it’s being able to convey a big concept with just a few design elements. A specialized talent–and you have it, Tom.

  6. Thank you to all for your kind words and comments. In answer to your question Josephine the background is both drawn and tweaked. I started with a stock photo and drew in elements to spotlight parts of it and fade others further back. In a lot of ways I don’t see any difference between cover design and my writing. In fact I find much more creative expression with writing because I can delve further into my dark and sinister thoughts: Mad Gods & Commitment are Occult/Horror thrillers after all.

    With cover design the elements come together much quicker and less time is spent on imagination. The great thing about my books are the immersive element I still get with both writing and reading them.

    Sorry don’t mean to sound like a promo I’m just expressing what I like about both and why.

    Ahhh, to be able to wake up and do nothing but covers and my writing and have both keep me financially comfortable, would be a dream come true. I’m writing this at 6 AM because I still have to do all this and go out and earn a living. The only time I can find to write or work on covers is the mornings and at night.

    Wait, my mind is going into a rice pudding head rush and dreaming of a solvent bank account with nothing but pages to write and covers to finish. Sigh.

      • josephine wade
      • December 21st, 2011

      I hope that one day those dreams come true for you — and sooner than even a very imaginative person like you can envision.
      Best of luck.

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