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Creation of a Cover

I love mucking around in Photoshop. It’s so relaxing and fun, not like that troublesome ol’ writing lark.

Troublesome Writing Lark

why did I make this

Sometimes this mucking around leads to a cover, sometimes for a book I haven’t even written yet. I often find it to be a good sort of semi-distraction, something to focus on while my subconscious figures out little things and tries to find the shape of the story. Recently I’ve even been sketching out rough ideas before doing any actual fiddling. With the most recent story to occupy my head space, Blood Sisters, I had this grand idea for a dramatically epic cover featuring the protagonist standing over her wounded sister, facing down dozens of murderous bandits in a night forest lit by torches. I even sketched out a rough outline before remembering that I can’t draw. I’ll save you from having to see the offending sketch; instead here’s a portrait of James Townsend (Esquire), Lord Mayor of Olde London Towne:

James Townsend, Mayor of London and Gentlemanly Poisoner

“Hello.”

So then, given that my grand, overly-ambitious ideas for a cover were nothing more than idle dreams, I went the other way; simplicity! Striking central image! Colours! Bright colours! Red is a bright colour! Aren’t there some red flowers? I could make it a BLOOD flower!

Blood Sisters Cover 1

Unt I did

Pretty decent first draft cover for a thriller, I feel. Except this book’s a fantasy story. Ho-hum. Still, I really liked the central image and the basic thing of the thing, so once more I fiddled and I faddled and I mucked and I … micked, eventually deciding that a more comic booky style might be more ‘fantasy’.

Blood Sisters Cover 2

Or should I say, Doctor VON Scott?

Here I felt that I was on the right track, but that font … that FONT. (Trajan, incidentally, a good go-to font for mucking around with.) I decided that the best way to say ‘fantasy’ was to make a fantasy-ish logo-title-thing. Looking a bit like a comic book would not, I felt, be a bad thing. And so:

Blood Sisters Preview 3

Just what exactly are you implying?

Now it was starting to feel more like a book I wanted to write. Still, it needed something else, it needed something more, it needed … fiddly bits.

BS Cover 4

So fiddly

At this point I started playing around with different ‘moods’ for the cover:

BS Cover 5

Literally hours of fun

Then I got distracted making a ‘series logo’, as this book would (eventually) (possibly) (hopefully) (if all goes as planned) be part of a larger collection of vaguely related but ultimately stand-alone stories united under the title of “The Song That Ends The World”. So, I made this:

Song That Ends

Bang, zoom! Straight … to the moon

Which, to be perfectly honest, still needs a lot of fiddling to get right and I might change the font and blah blah blibbity blah-blah-blah. It’d do as a placeholder for now in any case, and so:

BS 7

Phew

Still a lot of mucking around to do and who knows, I might abandon the whole concept or even go with a completely different title, but that’s the story of this first draft of the cover for Blood Sisters, possibly the first book in the Song That Ends The World series. (Potentially.)

In other writing-related news, since I’m here, Charlotte Powers 4: Rising Power is nearing first draft completion. Miya Black V is also in a state of near-readiness; just a couple of proofs before it’s ready for release. I’d say Rising Power is on track for a late-August release, while Miya Black V could be out before the end of this month, depending on how things go.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in Of Writing

 

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Cover Faffery (I may have used this title before)

Today was a day for not getting much done, mostly I just played around with potential covers for a potential story and tried to figure out why Charlotte Powers: Power Play isn’t available to buy for 90% of the people who look at it. (Yes, this is very annoying.)

So anyway, I don’t even know if it’s going to be called “Time Is But The Stream”, but it is a timey-wimey sort of thing so it fits at the least thematically. Mostly I just got a bunch of new fonts and wanted to play with them:

I love this font to pieces. It’s called ‘Refuse Trip‘ by ‘Smoking Drum‘ and it’s just far too much fun to play around with. Utterly useless for readability on thumbnails (well, it’d work for a short title maybe) but who cares, SUCH fun.

Another font I’ve just discovered a deep and meaningful passion for, ‘A Font With Serifs‘ by ‘Extate‘. I love how there’s a ‘disordered’ version of it, with a few cunning layers you can make it look as if you’re seeing through the letters to their skeletons, it’s a nifty effect. Didn’t work for this cover, but still. Nifty.

Anyway, I like this cover but I don’t love it–which takes me to:

Actually I don’t quite love this one either, but oh well, I was just playing around. The good thing about cover faffery is that you at least have something to show for your time, it’s a little more solid than picking away at notes or doing research or even outlining.

Apropos of nothing aside from the fact that I wanted to use the phrase ‘apropos of nothing’ and then get all meta about it, I recently saw an episode of Phineas and Ferb (which is, incidentally, a fantastically brilliant cartoon) and thought this song was particularly excellent:

It reminded me very strongly of Brad’s Theme from Comic Jumper:

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Another Day, Another Donut

Imogen Shroud featured as part of HorrorChat13’s Zombie Month, the more exposure the merrier, right?

Still in a ‘need to take a break from writing’ mood today so I did some more work on ADD’s cover and picked at CP2’s while I was at it (old on left, new on right):

Still not entirely sure about it. I think I’ll leave it for now and come back to it with fresh eyes later. I’m happy with the Power Play cover, though:

Barring the emergence of any new powers within the story, this is probably what I’ll publish with.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Resonance Book Two: Against Darker Days – Cover Progress

Or ‘first attempt’, really. I needed a break from writing today, so to remain productive I worked on ADD’s cover. Figures are just concept ‘stand-ins’, titles need fiddling with (to stand out and be more readable), and if I’m honest I’m not sure about the concept, but I think the colour scheme is okay:

What I may do is shift the angle more to the left and move the charging figure down into the right-hand corner to have her coming at the standing figure at a more dynamic angle, which would get rid of some negative space and make better use of the available area. It’d also be more interesting. And harder to draw. Maybe I’ll just try a wee test of that:

Or I might just scrap the whole idea and go back to the drawing board, I’m not sure how I feel about this cover yet. It’s been difficult to figure out what I want to show–this is probably my favourite scene from the book, but I’m not sure if it’s the best choice for the cover.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Last Impressions: Covers & Titles

Book covers are important, this is a truth of the world. More often than not they’re the first point of contact between potential readers and your work. Titles are, in my opinion, just as important. But I’m not going to talk about ‘first impressions’ here. I’m going to talk about last impressions.

After I finish a good book, there’s something I always do, a ritual of sorts. I look at the cover again. Sometimes for minutes, as I think about the book and reflect back on it. Now, for me, a really great cover/title isn’t just about that first impression. For me, a truly great cover/title should change after you’ve finished the book. Especially for titles, I think there are a few ‘rules’ for a great one:

1) Memorable and easy to spell.
2) Intriguing and evocative of the book’s story/characters/setting/themes.
3) Unusual enough to stand out from other books, especially in the same genre. Take a look at how many fantasy books are called something like “the x of y” or how many thrillers are called “the x“. If you’re going to use this format, your x and y better be pretty special.
4) If possible, the title’s meaning should be clearer and, perhaps, deeper after the reader has finished the book.

Some thoughts on my own covers and titles:

The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud’s cover is one I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about, and I’m pretty proud of it. One thing that people have mentioned is that they like the ambiguity of the heart-shaped thing on the end of the club. After you’ve read the book, you know exactly what it is. More than that, though, my hope would be that what was once just a dark silhouette of a girl holding an ambiguous club-thing has now become a character; that after reading the book, the reader sees Imogen in that silhouette. The title’s meaning, also, may change subtly, depending on how you look at things.

The Charlotte Powers covers also I’m proud of, nice and clean and simple. They use Charlotte’s personal power icon, the star-against-circle device, surrounded by the power-icons of all the other supers she encounters during that particular book. As a reader, I love this kind of thing. I’d spend ages just looking at the cover before I even started reading, looking at the icons, trying to figure out what they might represent, and then after finishing the book I’d go back and match the powers to characters. I know not everyone would do this, in fact I know hardly anyone would, but I write for myself and for people like me, people who enjoy these little details, and so to me, this is a good cover. Also, after reading the first book I think the cover does change a little. There’s a reason I put all the power icons there, but to go into that reason would be a spoiler.

The covers for the Miya Black books are simpler, but I think they still achieve this goal–of a good first and last impression. I think the ‘title over icon’ effect is quite striking, especially the bright colours and stark white against black. Also, the icon of each book does have some significance–not a huge amount, it’s true, but some.

Birds of Passage’s cover is a little unusual, in that it doesn’t depict anything that happens in that book. In fact, the scene it depicts isn’t actually ever shown. It happens, but off-screen. Maybe some people will get it after the second book, maybe not. Like I said, unusual. But the Resonance series in general is ‘unusual’. So it kind of fits, and I think it shows some of what the first book is about, and after reading the book the reader will at least know what the location depicted on the cover is. As for the title, it’s a pretty basic connection, but I think it works nicely.

The Boy & Little Witch’s cover needs work. I think it’s okay as a print book cover, subtle and a little lonely, but you can’t see the tiny figures in the lettering in the Kindle cover so it just doesn’t work. I need to redo this one. I’m actually considering getting an actual artist to paint something for me. In any case, I think a new cover would improve the book a lot.

For other works, I have to say that the Discworld covers are amazing (not the US editions), the early ones with all the little details and characters and things, I’d spend ages studying them after I was finished to try to catch everything. The newer covers are great too–it’s interesting also that they reflect the changing ‘maturity’ of the series, the earlier books were more jokey and the later books are more thoughtful.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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New Cover, New Sales, #8 Pirate Book IN THE WORLD (of Amazon)

Two sales today! One of Charlotte Powers, one of Miya Black. Hopefully with the new cover for Birds of Passage I might start seeing some sales for that, too. In any case, once it goes live I’ll start a LibraryThing giveaway. Here’s the final cover, just a few tiny tweaks and changes and tidyings:

Very happy with the way it turned out. It also has the Super-Wife seal of approval, which counts for a lot.

Also also, Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns is now #8 in the overall Action & Adventure / Pirates section. I don’t mean just the Kindle category (still #1 there, yay), but even including physical books. Pretty fun, right?

Also, wow, in the time it’s taken me to write this bjournal post the new cover for Birds Of Passage is already live:

Resonance Book One: Birds Of Passage

And looking fairly snazzy, if I do say so myself. Let’s see if this doesn’t attract a few sales.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Further cover faffery

Got rid of the ‘cloak in the wind’ and the rocks and did about a hundred other things. New logo, too, I thought the old one was a little too cartoony. The new one is closer to what I wanted, halfway between ‘stone’ and ‘gem’, and a lower saturation helps it fit into the cover. Oversaturation on the rock gives a better feel for the light of the scene, and it’s a nice effect. Highlighting on the figure gives it more texture and makes it more ‘real’, also helps anchor it. I’m happy with the blurry, almost glowing ’emerald city in the distance’ effect. Not entirely sure about the sky. Some alternatives:

I’m kind of leaning towards the last one right now, somehow it feels lonelier than the others, which I always like. I think the colour of the sky works well with the oversaturated rock, too. In any case, I feel like I’m close to ‘final’ now. When I start fiddling around with layers I know I’m close to the end. Anyway, I’ll sleep on it and look at it tomorrow with fresh eyes.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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