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Create a book cover for a samurai steampunk technofantasy novel
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This is a book cover for a self-published novel, an alternate history steampunk technofantasy set in 1850s Japan. Can you imagine revolutionary young samurai with dirigibles taking on Commodore Perry and his Black Ships? Tōru: Wayfarer Returns is the standalone first novel of the Sakura Steam Series, a steampunk alternate history covering the tumultuous period from the opening of Japan in 1853 to the Meiji Restoration in 1868, similar to the way Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century steampunk series re-imagined the American Civil War period. Tōru: Wayfarer Returns covers the year prior to Commodore Perry’s arrival in Japan, and follows the hero and his young allies as they lead Japan through a massively compressed industrial revolution, allowing the Japanese to dramatically alter that pivotal moment in history in their favor. While my hero and his dirigibles are fictional, I built my story against the backdrop of the "real" cultural and historical Japan of that period, and wove historical figures into my tale, staying true to their motivations and agendas even as my alternate history warped their actions, history and a few laws of physics. Underpinning the adventure plot is a young man's yearning for his father's approval and an honorable place in the world. The poor boy-rich girl romantic sub-plot adds further color and cultural richness to the overall story while introducing a strong female character with a mind and missions of her own as she takes on the gender constraints of her time and culture. The setting and genre may appeal to readers who enjoy steampunk alternate histories more typically set in Victorian England or the American Wild West but made fresh by the Japanese samurai setting. Crossover appeal may exist for those who enjoy historical fiction set in Japan. Novels demonstrating an enduring popular interest in fiction set in Japan include The Commoner, Memoirs of a Geisha, Tōkaidō, and Shōgun, as well as the film The Last Samurai.
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The novel's cover needs to communicate genre (steampunk adventure), setting (Japan), period (1850s before the Americans come, so hardcore samurai without Western influence). In two words: samurai + dirigibles. Front cover has - Author name: Stephanie R. Sorensen - Book title: Tōru - Subtitle: Wayfarer Returns - the mighty image you will design. Back cover has draft jacket blurb (see below). Front image can trail around to the back or be echoed on the back in some way. Somewhere small on the back include "A Sakura Steam Series Novel." Spine will have title, subtitle, author name and series name. Omit series name if it is getting horribly messy. This book will be downloadable as an ebook, probably primarily on Amazon, and print on demand as a paperback. I would like a 1.5 height/width ratio (6" x 9") so approximately 3200 x 4800 pixels. I need 300 dpi for the print on demand version. Amazon's digital publishing requires RGB color profile. Print on demand version requires CMYK mode. Spine size I do not know, as I have not done the internal formatting yet. Novel is 82,000 words, which is smack dab in the middle of the range for a science fiction novel, so if there is some sort of average rule of thumb guideline for a normal novel, not too big, not too small, use that for now. This is not a short novella and it is not a big fat Game of Thrones monster. I will come back to the winner and pay for any tweaking to the design that needs to happen to get the spine width exactly right, but for now, avoid designs that have a hard line down that left front side that might bleed oddly into the spine. Overall, remember the goal here is to sell books. So I also need your expertise on using great fonts and typefaces, in the right size and scale so that the title and printed information is clear and legible. I need your expertise on making an image that looks good both regular book size and interesting enough to poke at when it is a tiny thumbnail on Amazon. Your image needs to make people want to open my book and start reading. I list some of the scene ideas to give you a feel for the story and tone--earnest, adventurous, courageous, lighthearted in spots--but not to demand that you must execute one of these big elaborate scenes. I may hope for that, and I will freely admit that I do, but I really am willing to be surprised and blown away by something more symbolic and artistic as long as it somehow communicates genre, setting and period and makes people investigate the book further. The mighty image you design can be anything that sells the genre, setting and period described above, but some pivotal plot point images that stick in my mind and might be helpful to you as starting points for brainstorming include the following scenes: - MASUYO CLIMBS TO SAFETY A rope ladder dangles trailing from a dirigible soaring through the sky, manned by Japanese samurai in steampunk-y samurai outfits. Hanging from the ladder is a beautiful young Japanese woman, her gorgeous kimono flying open around her ankles as she climbs the ladder to safety. Below her on the ground circle hostile samurai on horseback, fruitlessly aiming crossbows to the sky. - THE DIRIGIBLE FLEET TURNS BACK THE BLACK SHIPS A fleet of 42 dirigibles soar in a V formation in the sky above the coast of Japan facing off against Perry's four black ships, two steam pulling two sailing ships. TORU CONFRONTS PERRY - Toru, in steampunk samurai outfit, maybe a pirate-y captain's coat over hakama, confronts an American commodore on the deck of the American steamship. Toru's dirigible hovers above. The Japanese coast is in the background. RETURNING TOGETHER AFTER VICTORY IS WON Toru and Masuyo, windswept, lean together on the gunwale at the prow of their dirigible as they soar over the coast of Japan, wearing Japanese steampunk military gear (airship pilot-y) The image doesn't have to be any of the scenes mentioned above, as they are pretty complicated, but a beautiful young Japanese woman and a handsome young Japanese samurai man, both in steampunk-y/Japanese-y outfits looking resolute in front of a dirigible or soaring through the air on the gunwale of a dirigible would be cool. Throw a samurai castle in the background somewhere maybe to set it in Japan for certain. If you design something more abstract, which is fine, it must be stunningly beautiful and eye-catching. Prominent steampunk symbols and images featured in the story include dirigibles, steam trains, Babbage Calculators and telegraphs. Also Commodore Perry's four Black Ships (two steam ships pulling two sailing ships). The dirigibles are described as "dragon dirigibles" with a dragon's head. The steam trains are very important in the plot too. Prominent characters in the story include the hero Toru, who is a fisherman-turned-samurai, Masuyo, a noblewoman's daughter who ends up captaining her own dirigible fighting ship, Jiro, a blacksmith-turned-engineer who winds up as Admiral of a fleet of dirigibles. DRAFT BACK JACKET BLURB A nation encircled by enemies A noblewoman with everything to lose A fisherman with everything to prove and a nation to save In Japan of 1852, the peace imposed by the Tokugawa Shoguns has lasted 250 years. Peace has turned to stagnation, however, as the commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial virtues decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures. Tōru, a shipwrecked fisherman rescued by American traders, defies the Shogun’s ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland. Can he rouse his countrymen in time? Or will the cruel Shogun carry out his vow to execute all who set foot in Japan after traveling abroad? Armed only with his will, a few books, dirigible plans and dangerous ideas, Tōru must transform the Emperor’s realm before the Black Ships come.
To repeat: open to any image that appealingly communicates steampunk adventure story genre set in 1850s Japan, maybe featuring one or more handsome/beautiful young people (Toru, Toru and Masuyo, or Toru/Masuyo/Jiro) in steampunk-y Japanese samurai gear. Finding a way to include a dirigible and a samurai castle is a plus but NOT required. Open to more abstract/less literal images, but must be extraordinarily beautiful and communicate somehow the genre, setting and period. Remember that I need clear title to all images used, so be very careful about intellectual property rights and avoid plagiarizing.
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