Salby Evolution – A Cover Story…

I want to introduce you to someone I consider to be a true gentleman.

No only that, this man has talent you couldn’t measure. He is a reputable author, brilliant designer and commissioned artist, as well as a songwriter and musician. More than that, I consider him a true friend among friends.

This man is called Nico Laeser.

I’d like to tell you a story if I may. Go grab yourself a coffee, or a tea if you prefer, and join me in the making of a book cover.

My story begins with a problem. How to get a decent cover for a sequel book, given the impact of the first extremely expensive cover for Salby Damned. My wallet began to tremble and beads of sweat formed upon my brow at the thought of several weeks of overtime to raise the funds needed. It was about this time that I’d noticed one of our member’s talents at art and design. As an avid fan of his written work, I asked Nico if he had time to design a cover for my sequel novel, Salby Evolution.

I knew that he was stacked with commissioned work, an imminent novel of his own and various other commitments.

“What do you have in mind?” Nico asked, “We could try a figure, with a reflection in a puddle maybe, Simon, seeing himself as something else?” He mused.

At any given time, what goes through my head could take some explaining, however, I had an idea of an image that stuck. The scene needed to be on a dock somewhere, a ship within view. That was the sum total of my idea thus far.

“Why don’t you find some images of ships that might work, then send them to me.” Nico said.

As it so happened, that night I was trucking up in Teesport, a vast commercial dock on the north east coast. On my way into the port, I noticed this freighter, which I think is actually a refinery carrier, docked awaiting loading. I snapped this with my camera phone.


The position and angle of the boat were perfect, as was the puddle in the foreground. I sent this to Nico for starters along with a few ideas I’d had that we threw around. He’s the creative one, I’m the trucker/writer!

The following day, this appeared on my PM messages:


Nico DREW this on an ipad!! And that’s just an initial scribbling. As the days passed and more detail was added, so the sketches came thick and fast. I knew that I’d need a backpack in the scene, that was important. I scoured the net to find a suitable image.


This is the image I sent over to Nico, you’ll see it appear more vividly in the following sketches that came through. This alone is testament to the man’s talent, even getting the bag perfectly in the scene.





The next images began to come thick and fast, eight of them in all as Nico progressed with the idea inbetween juggling the completion of his own WIP – Enablers Anonymous and a myriad of other assignments.

From these images right to left, you can see the creation process that Nico used not only to get the pose of the figure correct, but also the exact details of the bag right to left on the lower two pictures. The next series of pictures are where we see the introduction of the drawn image to the original photograph, along with the ‘tweaks’ in the detail process.

By clicking on the images, you’ll see them in full scale mode.

If you look closely on the enlarged image of the crouching figure and bag, you’ll see a teddy bear and a fire truck. These are integral items in Salby Evolution.

Once we had reached this stage, Nico began to work with font styles and possible layouts, which generated another series of images.

In all, with a period of around two weeks from the first base image at the beginning of this post, we came to this stage. Impressive stuff eh? It would be another week or so, due to Nico’s need to work on Enabler’s, a title I’m eagerly awaiting to read, before more work would be done to finalise the image and add back cover elements and blurb, but we were on the right track.

Salby Evolution – Cover Reveal

There were minor additional tweaks made to the cover from the images above and I set about writing the perfect ‘blurb’ for the back cover with the help of members from the IASD Facebook group. It took a few attempts to get the wording right to create the kind of impact that we hoped would assist in future sales. Finally, I sent the blurb off to Nico to be added to the cover along with a picture of yours, truly. It would be a couple more days before my email buzzed with the final, finished cover for my new novel – courtesy of the inestimable Nico Laeser.


The ghosted image you see overlayed was actually a sample idea that Nico sent. It is HIS picture, transformed into a zombie-like deadhead. I loved the idea and the concept of having the cover designer actually on the cover, and asked Nico if I could use it – he agreed. It will now feature on the paperback issues of Salby Evolution. Bonus points for anyone who can find Nico’s signature 🙂

So there you have it, the new cover to Salby Evolution on a first public display, but this isn’t the end of the tale…

Upon receipt of the above amazing work of art that contains so many subliminal details, I asked Nico to send me the invoice for his efforts. This is what he typed back, and I quote:

“My invoice would be HUGE. Find a homeless man, give him what you think the cover is worth. Pay it forward.” He said.

I mean, how about that? This isn’t over yet. I made a promise to do as Nico asked, only I’ll donate funds to multiple homeless as Sheffield has quite a few. I have other plans in the pipeline as thanks to Nico himself, but all in good time.

Suffice to say that I stand in awe of Nico’s talents, not to mention his generous and humble nature. I cannot thank nor praise him enough for what he has done to help me, for creating not only an image for Salby Evolution, but for pulling out all the stops to do it in such high quality and with such effort.

Thank you so much Nico! I love this cover 🙂


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