Gleam Upon the Waves Cover Reveal

Gleam Upon the Waves Cover Reveal

As it was foretold in bygone days of yore, August 27th has arrived. As prophesied, the cover for Gleam Upon the Waves will be revealed. Let’s begin, shall we?

You can see a bigger version below. Click on the image to view it larger.

The Gleam Upon the Waves cover
The cover for Gleam Upon the Waves
In the lower depths of the city of Lovat, a King Tide rises. On the mantle of this aberration rides a vile stench that permeates the city from root to crown. When a job comes along for Caravan Master Waldo Bell and his crew offering a chance to slip away, it’s easy to be interested. When it comes from the city’s newly elected mayor, it’s impossible to ignore.
Outward bound on an enormous floating casino Wal finds himself out of his element. This won’t be routine caravan work. This job is more diplomacy than delivery, taking Bell Caravans out of the shadowed warrens and off dusty trails to the canals of Empress, the mysterious capital of the hermit-nation Victory.
But, things are never simple in the Territories. As the situation grows increasingly complicated and sinister forces begin to circle, Wal will discover darkness runs deeper than he ever thought possible; reality is not what it seems, and a new apocalypse is closer than anyone predicted.


He is coming. Can't you smell it on the wind?


I’m sure you noticed that like all the previous Bell Forging Cycle covers, the background image was another piece by the late 19th-century French artist, Gustav Doré. I love Doré’s work. Here I used the Plate I engraving from Doré’s illustrations for La Grande Bible de Tours entitled: The Deluge it depicts a scene from the story of Noah’s Ark as humans and animals struggle to save themselves as floodwaters rise. Tides. Floodwaters. Waves. Boats. Lots of nautical themes happening here. Wonder what that means? Hmmm.

Funny enough, Jon Contino nailed down the lettering for this cover years ago—way back when we were locking down the look for Red Litten World. I fell in love immediately, and it’s been hard to stay quiet. Jon’s distinctive approach to typography has always worked perfectly for the Bell Forging Cycle. His visceral and emotional approach to design has helped capture the sense of unease in the series and solidify the tone in a way that helps it stand out. He outdid himself with this one. 

From a design perspective, I think it settles perfectly within the series as a whole while maintaining a unique voice of its own. Look how great it looks in the lineup:

The Bell Forging Cycle Books I–IV
The Bell Forging Cycle Books I–IV

Huge thank you once again to Jon for helping me out with this. (Also, he’s got his own book out now and you should go buy it.) There will be more to come in the future. Gleam Upon the Waves is due out later this year (hopefully!), so expect more announcements with launch dates and the like and a sample chapter for you to read. I cannot wait to get this one into your hands. It’s been a long time coming, and I think you’re going to love it.

What do you think of the new cover? Which cover is your favorite? Why? Leave a comment. Let me know!

Need to Get Caught Up?

The Bell Forging Cycle

If you’ve only read a few of my novels, now is the perfect time to nab my previous books and catch up on the series before Gleam Upon the Waves drops. Order from any of the retailers below or support your local indie book shop and have them order it for you.

Amazon Barnes & Noble KoboiBooks GooglePlay

Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderDid you know you could have gotten a sneak peek early? It’s true! Sign up for Dead Drop, my elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. It’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Independent bookstores are alive and well in America

Friday Link Pack 09/12/2014

You made it. It’s Friday! That means it’s time to share a few interesting links I’ve found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know!


Millennials Are Out-Reading Older Generations
Writers rejoice, rumors of our audiences demise has been greatly exaggerated.

NaNoWriMo Cometh – Four Early Tips To Enhance Your Novel Writing
Participating in National Novel Writing Month this year? Here’s four things you should be working on now to make sure your NaNoWriMo is a success.

Independent Bookstores Are Alive And Well In America
That’s right, don’t listen to the hype. Not only are Indie bookstores doing well, in the last five years their numbers have risen. (By double digits!)

Are Authors Running Out Of Book Titles?
The Guardian looks into the recent occurrence of several popular authors recycling book titles used by others. I mentioned the blog Spending The Stephen King Money in a June Link Pack. I recommend checking it out.

Publishing Advice I’d Give My Younger Self
Indie author J. A. Konrath offers up advice he’d give to himself. There’s a lot of good straightforward advice here. Worth a read no matter how established or successful you are.


Emily Blincoe’s Arrangements
Objects arranged by color and photographed. Beautiful.

Typewriter Artist
This human interest piece from 2004 looks at Paul Smith, an artist with cerebral palsy who uses a typewriter to create art. (Thanks to Kari-Lise for sharing this.)


Look Down If You Dare: The World’s Scariest Stairs
If you’re scared of heights, you might want to skip this slideshow showing a number of dizzying climbs from around the world. (Thanks to Brittany for one.)

The Yeti
An online exhibit exploring the validity and legends surrounding the mythical yeti, the alpine cousin of the Pacific Northwest sasquatch. Are you a believer? (Thanks to Sky for submitting this.)

Space Station Earth, A Map Skin
I have mentioned MapBox before, but their latest map skin is incredible. Space! Check out my hometown here.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Doom That Came to Sarnath
An ancient people conquer the mighty city of Ib defeating its strange inhabitants and bringing about a defeat of their own.

Gif of the Week:
Next time on Star Trek: The Next Generation...

Friday Link Pack 03/21/14

The Soviet Edition of The Hobbit Has the Best Gollum

It’s time to share a few interesting links I have found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know!


The Apartheid of Children’s Literature
Poignant article from Christopher Meyer’s discussing the noticeable lack of non-white protagonists in children’s literature. (Thanks to Sky for letting me know about this.)

List of Animal Sounds
A comprehensive list of animal sound in the english language. Handy resource.

Publishing is a Lottery & Publishing is a Carny Game
Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath analyze and discuss the state of the publishing industry. It’s a long and thought provoking article and I highly recommend every writer indie or otherwise giving it a read.

Honest Tolkien Covers
Because really…


Amazing Illustrations from the Russian Edition of the Hobbit
Such an awesome style. Really love the take on all the characters. I agree with the article’s title: best gollum. Easily.

Rod Ruth – Creatures From “Science Fiction Tales and More Science Fiction Tales” 1973-74
Great assembly of Rod Ruth’s amazing vintage monster illustrations.


FieldCandy’s “Fully Booked” Tent
Because who doesn’t want a tent that looks like a book? (Thanks to Sky for sending this in me, he was on a roll this week.)

Americans – why do you keep refrigerating your eggs?
Answers to a fascinating question that I’d guess most American’s didn’t even know existed.

Rear Window Timelapse
Footage from the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window spliced together into one awesome timelapse.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
Fun fact, the first line from this creepy little tale will be the epigraph for my next novel: Old Broken Road. Madness is scary.

Farewell Gif of the Week:

buwah!? ear-ear-ear-earthquaaaake!

Building A Better Book Cover

Let’s Talk About Your Book Cover.
Along with being a writer I am also a designer. I’ve been designing for 15 years now, having done everything from posters, logos, email campaigns, web sites, before eventually settling into user experience design. I mention my pedigree such as it is, only because I want to talk about some concerns I have over design advice  given to indie authors who are diving into self-publishing.

There seems to be a great many folks out there who claim you can make a well designed book cover with a cheap stock photo and a bit of text. I have seen these articles pop up on blogs all over. Every single time I just get frustrated. Why? Well, frankly… they’re totally wrong.

A Short Design Lesson

A well designed cover is so much more. It’s clever. It’s engaging. It’s attractive. It’s enticing. Chip Kidd—arguably one of the best cover designers in the world today—is quoted as saying:

“A book cover is a distillation.
It is a haiku of the story.”

The primary essence of a haiku is the Japanese word きる or kiru, which means to cut or slice. In a good haiku everything is removed but the perfect words to formulate the perfect line. A good book cover should also strive for that same perfection. Just like a haiku, it should reduce thousands and thousands of your words into a few simple elements. These elements should work together to do one thing: engage the viewer.

Staying simple is key. One of my favorite sayings comes from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who said:

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

What does that mean? Let’s take a look at one of my favorite covers from last year, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

There is so much going yet it’s so simple and clever. Excess distraction has been stripped away and it still oozes intrigue. The choice of hand lettering. The tear and the peeling back of the paper to reveal the titular goldfinch. It’s compelling. It’s engaging. It’s clever. It leaves the viewer wanting to know more. It makes me want to read the book.

Often stock photography tends to be the most cliché take on a subject. Cleverness rarely comes from cliché. To get past the cliché I think you need to go beyond visual imagery, sure…a piece of stock photography might show up, and yes a typeface choice will be a part of the final design, but just slapping together a few things that are “close enough” won’t do your story justice. A good cover goes beyond all of that, it becomes that perfect line.

Creating A Better Cover

Okay, my lesson on book cover design theory is over. You want to make a simple engaging cover. So how do you go about doing that? I get that not everyone is a designer. So what can you do as a writer to really make your book cover stand out and look professional? Here’s a few suggestions.

If you are willing to spend some money:
  • Hire a designer
    Seriously. A designer will help your final work look it’s best. Make sure you have them read your book and approach you with a few concepts. If you have a few ideas throw them out there, but be willing to bend a little. It’s their job to distill your story down into that perfect haiku, that is what they are good at, let them be good at their job.
If you are going in alone:
  • Study well-designed covers
    There are numerous resources out there for you to browse award winning covers. One fantastic place to start is The Book Cover Archive, a site I have mentioned before. But there are other collections all over the web. Use them as a resource, see what works and learn to recognize what doesn’t.
  • Learn from the masters
    Chip Kidd had a great TED talk I suggest you go watch. There are also a ton of books out there as well with instructions on how to get started.
  • Sketch out ideas
    Sit down and start sketching out ideas. You don’t have to be a good artist. Just get a feel for what you want. Does it involve people? Does it need to even have a photograph? Is there something representational you could use instead?
  • Get messy
    Look back at The Goldfinch‘s cover. A lovely (and I believe in the public domain) painting by Carel Fabritius. Some paper. Some rough handwriting. It’s all laid out and photographed. It looks great. Don’t be afraid to try some weird crafty things to capture that cover you want for your book.

A Few Final Thoughts

So does the cover even matter? Some would say in our post-bookstore eBook-flooded-world a cover isn’t anything more than a thumbnail—if even that. Some would say the interior is what matters and cover design is a waste of time. Both stances are probably right on some level and sure, a well designed cover means nothing if your book isn’t up to snuff, and yes a cover is rarely seen in an eBook but I don’t think those are good arguments for bad cover design.

If you can put in a little effort into making your book look that much more professional thus making it more appealing to readers…why wouldn’t you? Quality sells. People look at covers before they buy a book (yes, even with eBooks.) There’s a reason why folks like Chip Kidd, David Pelham, and Barbara Dewilde can make careers designing some of the most iconic and recognizable covers on the market. It’s the same reason why people are drawn to smartly designed book covers, and why readers remember their favorites.

Imagery resonates. You have spent all this time writing a pretty amazing book. Spend a bit more time and give it a pretty amazing cover.

Kobogeddon & “The Stars Were Right”

So last week The Kernel broke a story about Amazon and other ebook retailers selling selling “barely legal” erotic fiction. While there hasn’t been much of a response from Amazon, ebook retailer Kobo immediately reacted by removing all indie books, not just erotic fiction, from its UK store, pending review.

Now this week many indie titles in the US and CA stores are currently unavailable, and the internet is reacting. As an indie author I had to see if this affected me and yes, even my own title: “The Stars Were Right” is currently listed as unavailable. (Despite having zero erotic content.) Now as I jokingly tweeted last week the good news is some lucky Kobo employee will get to read “The Stars Were Right.” Woohoo! I hope they add it to Goodreads. The bad news is if you were planning on buying Stars for your Kobo device it’s currently unavailable.

It’s frustrating, but fret not, I believe in redundancy and if you want to read “The Stars Were Right” there are still a number of ways you can get it:

You’ll also see both iBooks and Barnes & Noble coming online in the next few weeks, and print copies will be available soon! As always there will be more updates as I have them.

Let’s hope Kobo figures this out and we can all move past the #Kobogeddon and get back to reading some good books.

Post-launch updates and how you can help out.

The Stars Were Right
Well it’s three days post-launch and I’m sure everyone who reads my blog is now aware “The Stars Were Right is now out and is available on Kindle , Kobo or direct from me. Without readers books are of little value, so it feels good to get it out into the wide world and into your hands. 

So far I have had a lot of interest (yay!) and quite a few of you have taken the time to both purchase and start reading (yay x2!). Thank you! I appreciate you helping me out. It’s fantastic to see so many people excited to read Stars.

If you have finished or you’re still reading and enjoying the book I want to take a moment to list out a few ways you can continue to help make “The Stars Were Right” a success:

  • If you like it, tell your friends.
    Seriously, this is an enormous help. Tell your friends you’re reading it and enjoying it. If you have finished, tell them what you thought. This is the best way to spread the word: face-to-face recommendations.
  • Post about it socially
    Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, message boards, wherever. Tell people you’re reading Stars. Give them a link. Start a discussion. On Twitter I have been using the hashtag #TheStarsWereRight.
  • Leave honest ratings and reviews
    Your opinion matters. Please give the book ratings and reviews on Amazon, and Goodreads, or wherever you picked up your copy. Honest reviews can really help an indie title become a success. For everyone who reads a book, fewer still will write a review, yet people shopping for a new book will pay close attention to reviews. They help a lot.

These little actions can go a long way, and they work for any new author— independent or traditional—and their stories. So if you want to help out, take some time and follow one of my suggestions.

Finally, thanks once again to everyone who took the time to pick up “The Stars Were Right.” I hope you’re enjoying it. Please feel free to drop me a line with comments, questions, feedback, really anything. You can leave a comment here or email me at—I do my best to respond to all my emails.

Happy reading!