The colour of Roma Nova

It’s a well-worn statement, a cliché, even that a book cover is what sells the book. My own method of choosing a book cold is to be attracted by the cover, pick it up, read the back cover blurb, read a paragraph or two on the first page, glance at the author bio (I’m the nosy type!), then drop or buy. And that’s it. In a few seconds, I’ve made my decision to add to that author’s royalties or not.

Covers I loveBefore I published INCEPTIO, I took weeks to collect a selection of covers I liked. I chose them all on pure instinct, not giving myself the chance to think about it. Click and copy, save, close document. You can see the whole selection by clicking on the image to the right.

My conclusion was that I liked a strong central image with two messages; one clear and one underneath. I also liked bold colours. A lot.

When I specified the INCEPTIO cover to the SilverWood Books design team, I asked for a gold symbol with imperial purple, on gloss. Purple signifies Rome, power, strength, royalty, rarity; the gold eagle is a sign of Rome, America and the Nazis. Oh, the latter wasn’t so good, but the ‘aquila’ is the classic Roman symbol so that’s what ended up on the cover. 😉

INCEPTIO_front cover_300dpi_520x802The graphic itself is executed in a very contemporary style which reminds us the story is set in the modern age. The shield/compass with a rising blade reflects toughness and focus – core Roman traits. Lastly, the streetscape behind balances the design – we’re in a  sophisticated, urban and elegant place with a river and classical buildings.

When the INCEPTIO cover arrived from the designer all I could do was point to the screen. Speech had fled. ‘Stunned’ doesn’t begin to describe it. And I still haven’t lost a jot of admiration for the SilverWood Books design team.

This week, I decided on the colour for the cover of the fifth Roma Nova book, INSURRECTIO. As with previous ones the colour reflects the content. PERFIDITAS is red because it’s the colour of betrayal as well as of Mars (god of war), anger and blood. SUCCESSIO’s blue cover, although a gorgeous, vibrant sapphire blue, nevertheless suggests midnight and coldness; the villain is a real shocker, calculating and cold-hearted and many of the pivotal scenes take place in the dark.

Roma Nova booksFor AURELIA, we’ve replaced the gold emblem of the first three with a silver one, a reflection of Roma Nova’s most important natural resource which is central to the plot and a way of showing we’re into a new cycle of stories within the Roma Nova series. The green background? Dark like the other covers, it brings in the Roman ideas of youth, vigour and evergreen along with the suggestion of dark trees and the Roman defeat in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD. A significant part of the action of AURELIA takes place in Germany. Will she end up like Varus, defeated in a dark forest?


Update July 2017: 
INSURRECTIO, which came out in Spring 2016, has a black cover to signify the darkness of the story; combined with the silver logo common to the second trilogy of AURELIA, INSURRECTIO and RETALIO, this cover recalls another brutal tyranny of the 20th century in our own timeline. The third part in this second trilogy, RETALIO, was published in April 2017 with an amber colour to signify endurance, yet warmth, the fire of battle, yet light shining through.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April  2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

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5 comments to The colour of Roma Nova

  • Your covers are very eye-catching, Alison, and it’s interesting to hear how you arrived at the colours. Looking forward to seeing the finished product of Book 5!

    • Alison

      Thanks, Fenella. Covers need a long and hard ‘think’. We must also work out the emotional side, so it’s a lot harder than many people realise and not a last minute or impulsive decision.

  • Hi Alison,

    Thank you for this interesting take on book covers and their importance when wondering whether to buy or not to buy. Myself – and I suspect most readers too, use a similar approach when browsing for yet another good book to add to our bookshelves. One of the negatives for me with EBooks is that I miss the look and feel of an attractive cover that I get when holding an actual paperback or hard backed book in my hand. I love the elegance and simplicity of your final choices with your own books and I love the glossy covers and high quality paper also. They look really great on my bookshelves. Looking forward to your next book in the Spring Alison. Take care – Leila

    • Alison

      Thank you, Leila. Yes, touching and feeling a book is like examining a piece of jewellery. It has to ‘talk’ to you, to entice you to pick it up, and the best way of doing this is with a stunning cover. Whether it turns out to be a true sparkler or a tawdry fairing is another question entirely!

  • Looking forward to Insurrectio!

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