Once again, my cover artist, Jake Bullock, did an excellent job. I sent him a scene from the book which I can't share with you because of spoilers, but the “Mistress of Animals” is a young teenage girl, another chained wizard, and not one of the good guys.
He came up with two entirely different treatments, of which I liked this one best.
I really liked this one, and was hoping the refining process didn't lose too much of the freshness.
We cleaned up some mechanics, like wolf bodies on book spines.
His next pass was to set basic color and lighting.
Notice how we have to have extra margin on the left, in case the book gets thick, and the spine has to be wider.
And then, as I waited eagerly, we took a wrong turn (and I'm not showing you that one). We backed up, and here's the final, all polished and ready to use, once I do the book description and other info for the back cover (what's there right now is just a placeholder from book 1).
The acid test, of course, is to see how the thumbnails work — were the title and author legible? Could you roughly tell what the picture was? Did it clearly signal genre (fantasy)? Could you tell that it was part of the same series as book 1, The Chained Adept?
I put together a group of my top competitors on Amazon and added thumbnail images of the two books in the series (so far) to check it out. You really need to click on the image to make it “lifesize” on your browser, the same size it would be if you looked on Amazon.
I find it remarkable how many of the other covers have illegible authors at thumbnail size — almost a quarter of them. (And look how the prices are all over the map, too.)
Still, mine pass the legibility test, look like they belong together, look like they fit the genre, and are priced in the middle of the pack, so it's all good. The book will be out in a couple of months, so you'll be able to judge for yourself.