I want something that's going to stand out even when it's shown as a thumbnail on sites such as Amazon, either due to its strong use of colour or its clear design.
It should imply action and adventure in a 19th-century setting. Potential locations from the story it could evoke include:
- a jungle
- the sewers beneath London
- late 1860s Paris
- a German castle
The book's main characters - if possible, I'd like at least one of them depicted on the cover, whether in detail, silhouette, or the depiction of some item representing them, to draw readers in:
- a classic action adventure hero, tall, muscular and square-jawed, style like Brendan Fraser in The Mummy, carries a revolver
- an aristocratic inventor, slim and well-dressed in top hat and tails, carrying some sort of gadget, wears glasses
- a well-dressed and scholarly woman, possibly carrying a sword-stick and/or small pistol.
Threats and challenges they face:
- getting lost in sewers and attacked by rats
- the action hero facing a shark and underwater ghosts
- fights against ninjas, in and below London
- an army of threadbare royalists and mutant monsters in Paris
- being stuck inside the siege of a German castle
- an archaeological dig in Egypt
The aim of their adventure is to find the lost ancient library of Alexandria, using ancient stone tablets as clues. That doesn't have to feature, but like the adventures listed above, it's to give some context for depicting them.
Ideally, there should be some indication that this is a steampunk story rather than one using a straight Victorian setting, through machinery, cogwheels, or strange gadgets. The story doesn't include any airships, so it can't be that standard symbol, but it does include hot air balloons, steampunk weaponry, and tunnelling machines.
I've attached examples of book covers I like from the steampunk genre.
Edited to add:
I know that goggles are a common steampunk image, but no-one in this book wears them, so I'd prefer not to have them on characters on the cover.