Cover Me


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My time lately has been concentrated on researching book covers: designs, designers, how-to, software, stock photos, pre-made vs. commissioned. What I’ve decided is since I want to give the book its best chance possible I am going to commission cover art. My reasons are thus:

1. I want good art that will stand out, and won’t make me feel embarrassed to show someone, like these would. (Fair warning: you may need trauma counseling after viewing that site.)

2. The book is the first of what I hope will be a trilogy.  I want a cohesive look, rather than a mish-mash of different styles so I’m hoping to be able to have the same artist do the covers of the next books as well.

3. Design programs like PhotoShop or GIMP have a steep learning curve. If you don’t already know how to use them, it’s not likely to be something you can learn to do well in a weekend (unless you’re a whole lot smarter than I am). I suspect it would take years to achieve the level of mastery I’m after.  I got as far as downloading GIMP and was flummoxed. As much as I love playing around with it, I have no idea what I’m doing and the effort would be amateurish at best.  Again, the embarrassment factor.

4. I love really good cover art. Most of the pre-made covers are formulaic, or just not quite right and make me want to tweak the design this way or that, even if the art isn’t bad. I don’t want to settle for something that’s almost there.

5. I’m not an artist and know only the merest basics of design principles.

What can I say? Champagne taste on a beer budget.

It will cost more money, but people do judge books by their covers (I know I do) and those cheesey, bad CGI covers with ugly fonts are a turn-off to me, so probably are to most other people as well.  I’ve solicited information from three or four artists online (and dismissed others out of hand due to their prices) and am pretty well focused on one. It’s not that I begrudge these people their rates, god knows a real artist with real talent deserves to be compensated for their work. I simply can’t come up with that much money right now. And high prices are also no guarantee of talent, as you can quickly discover. I trolled the internet for a couple of weeks, looking up all kinds of artists, checking out the DIY options, pre-made offerings. This, I believe, is the best course.

The whole process is kind of taking my breath away, and my heart beat faster. This is really happening. Unless I chicken out and decide not to do it. I’ll probably just quietly put the book up on Amazon and hope no one notices…

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5 thoughts on “Cover Me

  1. I’m sure whatever you choose will be tasteful and elegant. I have to admit to having an odd fondness for some of the more lurid, pulpy covers of past decades.. A lot of the traditionally published book covers today strike me as quite dull in comparison. There was some site that showed how many were using the same few famous paintings on a myriad of different books.

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    1. Oh you mean these? and these? I could go on, but that’s probably enough 😉 Some of those old pulp covers were fun. I know what you mean about the dull covers on some of today’s books: just some textured background in a single color with the title and author’s name. I guess the “literary fiction” world doesn’t care for imagery. Then there’s the 50 Best Book Covers of 2012. I love the cover of “Cascade” by Maryanne O’Hara.

      Thank you for the vote of confidence! I’m talking with an artist now who’s work I really love, and will hopefully steer clear of the cliches that I so hate.

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      1. Yes! That is the site. Goodness, the taglines are hilarious. 🙂

        Of the “best covers”, I also liked Cascade. It’s actually one of the only ones I liked. Bloodlines was interesting. And Sardinians had a fun, comic look to it. At the least, it’s something different.

        Hard not to notice how many actually did only have the author’s name and the title. Guess I just don’t have “modern” taste. Heh. Big surprise!

        Good luck with the artist! I hope so much things turn out the way you hope.

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  2. I think you should do what you want and choose what you like. Because, believe me, what may satisfy one person, will not satisfy another. These things are personal and in the end you just have to go with what you like (unless you have a snap graphic artist team that have done the research and marketing to do know what works for a certain demographic or audience).

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    1. Ha, yeah, my budget doesn’t allow for a whole team 😉 But I am talking to an artist whose work I really like, and I think can give me a cover I can proudly show off. I actually really want to avoid the cliches, which may be anathema to some, but there are no tramp-stamped half-dressed girls with swords showing off their backsides in the book. So it won’t be that. No idea what it WILL be, but I know it won’t be what John Scalzi called “Strippers with Swords”, and I posted about here.

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