Never judge a book by its cover—that’s the adage, right? And it’s a nice one, but totally untrue. Because we do judge books by their cover. That’s not where our judgments stop, and by judgments I mean all the little assessments we make when deciding whether to purchase a book or otherwise: the cover, the synopsis, the blurbs, the author’s previous work and bio, the cover—all these things play into our decision to pick up a book from the shelf and take it home with us or not. In that alchemy that moves someone from interest to purchase, the cover plays a vital role. You only get one first impression, another adage goes. Well, oftentimes, the cover is the first impression your book has. You don’t want it to be the last.
We live in a visual-driven world, there’s no getting around it. Even if we put aside the primary contributors to our visual tapestry—film, TV, advertising—think about how so many—though not all—of us communicate: GIFS dominate social media, emojis are almost as commonplace as actual language. There’s hardly a corner of media—save books, though books have covers and their importance, after all, is what I’m talking—that doesn’t incorporate visual images, of some kind, to help convey the narrative/message. Some do it more than others; some do it with more subtly and skill, but nothing changes the fact that part of our brains are wired to think in visual terms (and you can extend this to language in general, as it’s all just signs and symbols, after all—but that’s a discussion for another day).
With my debut novel, Black Star Renegades, my editor and I both saw the book’s cover as an opportunity to help convey the feel of the book. See, I’m at a pretty unique advantage; prior to writing Black Star Renegades, I’ve worked in comics for the past decade, which means I have (I hope) a pretty well-trained visual eye. I know the importance of images and art, and how they can enhance and tell stories. That said, the cover was a vital piece of the overall presentation of the book—after all, selling something is telling a story in a convincing, compelling way, and my editor and I wanted to maximize every opportunity to convince readers to take a chance on this book.
That said, Black Star Renegades, at its heart, is a space adventure novel that follows in the spirit of Star Wars. It’s a pulpy romp with big characters and big worlds—lots fun, but kind of retro, in a sense. And we wanted to capture that with the cover, and when we engaged the wonderful Wayne Haag—a brilliant sci-fi artist—the only instruction my editor and I gave him was to give us something iconic, something like the original 1977 A New Hope poster, something you’d see on a vintage sci-fi paperback, when those stories were grand and propulsive and all about jumping worlds and getting into adventures. We wanted this story to feel big. And, in my opinion, Wayne delivered in a tremendous way. When I look at the cover for Black Star Renegades, I see something grand, I see characters on the cusp of a mighty adventure—I see something fun.
Going even further, knowing how important first impressions can be, my editor and I added every little touch to the book—the actual, physical book—that we could. The cover logo is spot gloss (which gives it that shiny, reflective quality), and the paper stock is textured just enough to give it a distinctive feel when you hold it. We rough cut the pages—deckle edge is the proper term, meaning when the pages look like they were cut by a jagged slicer—and placed a snapshot of the cover art on the book’s spine, so it jumps out on the shelves. There’s endpapers—a starscape—and my friend and designer Tim Daniel designed a sigil for each chapter head. My editor and I both wanted this book to look and feel good in peoples’ hands; we wanted our passion to be as evident as possible, and hopefully readers see that in the work we put into every inch of the design.
And we wouldn’t have done that if we didn’t feel book covers are important. They are, vitally so. They are a writer’s first opportunity to convey their story; they are your story’s face to the world. Best to make it count.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Date Published: January 2
Publisher: St. Martin’s
In the tradition of Star Wars, a galaxy-hopping space adventure about a galactic kingdom bent on control and the young misfit who must find the power within before it’s too late.
Cade Sura holds the future of the galaxy in his hands: the ultimate weapon that will bring total peace. He didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t want it, and there’s no worse choice to wield it in all of space, but if he doesn’t, everyone’s totally screwed. The evil Praxis kingdom is on the cusp of having every star system under its control, and if that happens, there’ll be no contesting their cruel reign. Especially if its fanatical overlord, Ga Halle, manages to capture Cade and snag the all-powerful weapon for herself.
Cade can’t hide from Praxis, and he can’t run from the destiny that’s been shoved into his hands. So he only has one option:
He has to fight.
Cade’s not going to let destiny send him on a suicide run, though. With some help from his friends―rebels and scoundrels alike―Cade’s going to use this weapon to chart a new destiny for the galaxy, and for himself.
He just has to do so before everyone around him discovers that he’s a complete and total fraud.
Blending the space operatics of Star Wars and the swagger of Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Star Renegades is a galaxy-hopping adventure that blasts its way from seedy spacer bars to sacred temples guarded by deadly creatures―all with a cast of misfit characters who have nowhere to go and nothing to lose.
About the Author
Michael Moreci is a bestselling author who’s the creator of numerous original comics series and has written and collaborated on multiple established properties. His sci-fi trilogy, Roche Limit (Image Comics),is currently in development for television with SyFy, and it was recognized by many publications as being among the best comics of 2015. It’s been called the “sci-fi comic you need to read” by Nerdist and io9, and Paste Magazine named it one of the “50 best sci-fi comics” of all time. Moreci has also written stories for iconic characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Conan the Barbarian.
In 2018, Moreci's debut novel, Black Star Renegades, was released with St. Martin's Press. Drawing inspiration from the space operatics of Star Wars and the swagger of Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Star Renegades is a galaxy-hopping adventure that blasts its way from seedy spacer bars to sacred temples guarded by strange creatures--all with a cast of misfit characters charged with saving the world.
His second novel, The Throwaway—an espionage thriller—is slated for release with Tor in June 2018. A sequel to Black Star Renegades will be released in 2019.
He lives outside Chicago with his wife, two children, and his dog.