The thing with being a writer is that, as you do more of it — writing, that is — you get better, and you think differently about your earlier work. You might hate it. You might want to distance yourself from it. The same is true of design, and while in some cases — maybe even most cases — design is a fixed thing, unable to be redesigned once it is complete, that is not the truth about all things.
Such as book covers.
Here are the original book covers that I designed for my Movement series, a trilogy of science fiction novels about man's journey from Earth into the stars:
They aren't bad, and they look quite nice together. The best thing about them is the original artwork that Greg Martin did for me, the planetary scenes that depict the progression of that journey I mentioned above.
But the more I've lived with these, the less I'm happy with them.
I asked Greg if he had the full environments he'd designed. He'd originally provided me with the art you see right there on the cover: the planet, and the cropped window of space behind it. But these are the only covers I've designed for myself that are this limited; every other cover I've done for my books has featured a broad, immersive visual environment, or at least artwork that wraps around the entire printed book cover.
So Greg sent me the full environments, with the disclaimer that they weren't fully rendered out, since the original plan had been to crop them as he did. But with a little touchup here and there, these turned into a beautiful new set of covers for the Movement novels:
They turned out rather nice, I think. Almost as important to this reimagining as the full-wrap artwork was the typesetting. Where the previous covers were unsubtle as hell, these are elegant, even a little understated; they're confident in their contents without resorting to shouting at the reader, YOU MUST SEE WHAT STORY I GOTS! PICK ME UP!
I may similarly revisit my covers for The Man Who Ended the World, and perhaps even Greatfall, sometime in the near future. I'm not certain about Greatfall; of all of my covers it might be the most iconic. But I think it might benefit from a slight polish as well.
After all, I'm not the same designer that I was even just a year ago. I'm a restless creative type, always certain I can one-up myself, and do better at the thing that I thought I did pretty well the first time.
Happy new year, all!
Update: Polished covers for The Man Who Ended the World and Greatfall are done now as well...