Tuesday 5 February 2019

Why I’m happy to have my books judged by their covers! By Dominic Fielder #bookcovers #HistoricalFiction @Kings_Germans

Why I’m happy to have my books judged by their covers!
By Dominic Fielder.

I sold my first book when I was eleven. That’s less impressive than it sounds. I simply held out my hand and took the money: I was working on my parent’s book stall in Plymouth Market. Selling other people’s books and comics has been my business, on and off, ever since. I’ve watched how people tend to pick up a book and look at the cover, for a second or two, then turn it over, read the blurb (and keep reading if it appeals), check the price, open it and see if they like the font...and then make a final decision…more often than not, as they look at the cover again.
We know the adage but we are all guilty of it.

A couple of years ago I wrote my own book; something of mine to sell. I tried to interest literary agents, I still try occasionally. Then I decided that self-publishing was the way forward. My other job (besides writing and book-selling) is being a tutor. I mention this because from my tuition circle I found a great editor, who explained to me that I’d written one flabby book, with the potential to be two very good ones…but that’s for another blog post. One of my other tuition clients, Catherine, is one of those people who are incredible at networking. In a chance conversation, I said about my writing attempts and she directed me towards an old school friend of hers, Jennie Rawlings (Jen at Serifim- Design for Publishing), a brilliant graphic designer.

And what did I do with that information? …Nothing.

Or rather I did what most aspiring writers on a shoestring budget do. Smiled sweetly, thanked her for the advice and moved on. But I was impatient to see how my book might look one day. So, I ploughed through the listing process on Amazon and reached that point where the cover art is requested. I’m sure that at this point, I used the cover template and the result was this rather uninspiring thumb-nail. I’ve never shared this before, mostly because it’s rubbish.

Clearly, I needed help (it’s not the first time in my life I’ve been told that, though!). I needed a brilliant graphic design artist (at a reasonable price)…I needed Jen!
From the outset, she was as good as Catherine had said, all those months earlier. We talked through design ideas, Jen wanted to read the text and understand the spirit in which I was hoping to tell the story. We looked at looked at a few book covers in the field of Napoleonic fiction, and some of the characters of the age.

For those who have tried to load a book cover onto Amazon (mine was a standard 5.25” x 8” with 556 pages), the process isn’t the most forgiving. Yet again, there was Jen to smooth over the wrinkle and help me retain what’s left of my sanity.

It’s time that we heard from her…    

"Dominic's novels are my first set of covers for books that are based on accurate historical events which is a challenge in itself. They also feature complex plot lines and a huge international cast of characters so deciding on a running theme for the books that would work for every section of the story he tells could have been a daunting prospect.

Fortunately, when Dominic approached me to collaborate on the artwork, he already had the answer: flags. They certainly evoke the kind of epic symbolism that suit this genre and provide a stirring background for the artwork that glues the overall theme of each story, and the series as a whole, together. It was a real gift to be able to incorporate the Union Flag on this occasion. It is one of the most iconic pieces of graphic design ever created in my view and can never fail to be eye-catching."

Effective historical military fiction covers tend to heavily feature common themes including bold colours and contrasts, prominent (often embossed) text and a strong sense of nostalgia so our Union Flag really fits the bill in very much the same way that the Flemish Black Lion flag did on the first cover.
One common misconception about book covers is that they need to 'tell the story' of the book but this is often neither practicable nor desirable and, where this is the case, it is far better to try to create an image that grabs the imagination of the reader with sufficient force to compel them to find out more for themselves. Ultimately, it is the blurb that will make the sale. My job is to make the right person want to read 

So, the cover lures the reader in and the blurb hooks them. They form that bond between the writer and the potential reader.
Except that no one ever collects a series of books because of the Calibri type set. But they are drawn by the juxtaposition of the Union Flag and Crown of France.

This is a series of books that I’m happy for you to judge by their covers.

The Black Lions of Flanders

 (King's Germans Book 1)

February 1793. 

Private Sebastian Krombach has joined the army to escape the boredom of 

life in his father’s fishing fleet. Captain Werner Brandt yearns to leave his 

post and retire into civilised society and Lieutenant Erich von Bomm wants 

nothing more than to survive his latest escapade that has provoked yet 

another duel. Each man is a King’s German; when they are called to war, 

their lives will become inextricably linked.

The redcoats of the 2nd Battalion, 10th Regiment, must survive the 

divisions that sweep through their ranks before they are tested in combat. 

On the border of France, the King’s Germans will face an enemy desperate 

to keep the Revolution alive: the Black Lions of Flanders.

The King of Dunkirk
(King's Germans Book 2)

May 1793: The French border.

Valenciennes, Paris then home! Every common soldier knows the popular 
refrain so why can’t the commanders see sense? 

The protracted siege of Valenciennes exposes the mistrust between the 
allies. National interests triumph over military logic. The King’s Germans 
find themselves marching north to the coast, not east to Paris. Dunkirk has 
become a royal prize, an open secret smuggled to the French, who set a trap 
for the Duke of York’s army. 

Lieutenant Erich von Bomm and Captain Werner Brandt find themselves in 
the thick of the action as the 14th Nationals, the Black Lions, seek their 
revenge. In the chaos of battle, Sebastian Krombach, working alongside 
Major Trevethan, the engineer tasked with capturing Dunkirk, must make a 
dreadful choice: to guide a battalion of Foot Guards to safety across the 
Great Moor or carry a message that might save the life of a friend. 

The King’s Germans and the Black Lions do battle to determine who shall 
be crowned the King of Dunkirk. 
The King of Dunkirk is released on 3rd March 2019.

Dominic Fielder

Dominic Fielder (1968-present) was born in Plymouth to parents of families from Roman Catholic and Protestant backgrounds. Then such things mattered to others but not to a first-born son who knew only love and a stable happy family. Two brothers made for a warm and somewhat idyllic childhood. He was bright but a disengaged student preferring instead to spend time with his dad at the family book business (the Bookstall) where a love of literacy flourished. Having finished sixth-form at Devonport High School for Boys, he passed opportunities to join first, the Tank Regiment, then the Royal Air Force, settling instead on a career in banking. Three years later, fed up with counting other people’s money, he travelled to Australia for a year, working for a time in the Outback and thoroughly enjoying life!

On returning to the UK, he drifted into work at his family’s Comic Shop (Kathies Comics). Despite fifteen years of hard work, the business failed and so did his marriage. Working a series of odd jobs, with odd hours, he finished a degree course in History, gaining a First and drifted into the world of education. Now he divides his time unequally between private tuition, running the family book business which has survived for sixty years and writing. More important than all of these, is spending time with his son. With what free time he has, he enjoys cycling, walking and horse-riding on the moors that surround his home in Mary Tavy, Devon.

His passion and interest for as many years as he can care to remember has been ‘little model soldiers’, painting them, researching facts about the regiments and playing wargames with them. For a dozen years or more, Dominic ran a series of ‘Megagames’ where people would arrive from all corners of the globe to game out World War Two scenarios for a week. Such events needed a strong narrative and his first attempts at writing were contained within the pre-game intelligence and the post-action reports. His writing project, ‘The King’s Germans’ is a few steps further down that road. For the person who drifted from one task to another, it’s a commitment to write twenty-two years of the history of Hanoverian soldiers in the service of King George III.    

Connect with Dominic on:  Facebook • Twitter.


  1. I agree totally, Dominic, a good cover will entice readers to look at a book in the first place, then is it up to the author to keep them reading. Love your covers! These are on my TBR list.

  2. What a great article, Dominic! I really enjoyed hearing your journey to finding Jen. You can write a brilliant story but if your cover doesn't grab the reader, it won't matter. Covers are the tease for the main event and it's so important to have an eye-catching one that conveys the message of your book right away.

    Love your covers, Dominic!


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