Arts and Crafts for Authors

I’m talking about cover design. No, I’m not going to tell you how to make a cover. There are a couple of tutorials for different covers from the age old, “add a black box,” to, “add black bands,” and on to the, “just feather that all around,” stuff that doesn’t translate well from Photoshop to Paintshop, apparently.

Cover design is very personal, and while I may talk about it later on, I won’t right now. I just got started, by next week all my information will hopefully be upgraded.

Cover design is one of those things that most of us should probably hire out for, myself included. It’s not just a slap on the butt and it’ll work.

It’s not like painting a wall, where as long as it’s mostly okay, no one will notice the flaws. 

There’s positioning and hierarchy and typography. And not just the type of font you use, but how you make that sucker stand out from the rest of the cover. There’s negative space and texture and colour.

So, I’ve been talking for a while about getting into cover design…

I’ve got the program, I’ve got a couple sites for stock photos, I’ve been doing research in those moments when I can’t focus on writing. 

I kind of suck at it right now, but doing this kind of work when the words elude me takes the pressure off me. I don’t feel like I’m a failure because I can’t make my three thousand words, or I’m not marketing, or editing. I get my mind off the plots for a little bit, so that I can take a look back with a fresh perspective and see new things in a world. 

It’s a great thing that keeps my attention and doesn’t make me feel guilty, unlike the video games I keep trying to play. On the one hand this is a good thing, because it means that I have the ambition, drive, and, heck, even the time management skills required to get this whole dream of mine off the ground. I’m just missing the reader base.

Market more.

That’s the voice I hear, except it’s always in a snooty tone and said by someone who isn’t living paycheck to paycheck, able to afford rent but nothing extravagant. Know what I can’t afford?

Furniture, trips, alcohol, makeup, and a shit ton of other things like daily coffee. If I can’t afford those things, I can’t afford marketing.

Then you can’t afford to be a writer.

You and I, snooty voice, need to have words out behind the woodshed with a shotgun.

This idea that if you can’t afford marketing, you can’t afford to be an author is absolutely ridiculous. You can afford to be an author. Save your money for things that really matter, like an editor and cover designer. Write a good book, the rest will come with time. Sure, it’ll take you longer, but just because you don’t have expendable income doesn’t mean you have to abandon your dream.

End rant.

Yesterday, after making my three thousand words I made the cover for His Grace and then did the other idea I had for the cover. It could be the shitty angel wings I grabbed for filler, but the second one looks stupid. I will try to find an appropriate pair of wings and see how that looks. 

Probably just the same.

Then I tried playing my game and was on just long enough for it to load before I looked at the time and grimaced.

It was only noon, I still had lots of time before my day off ended. I couldn’t come up with anything to do with the game, at least nothing interesting, so I closed it down and reopened Paintshop. 

I grabbed a couple random things. I slapped something together and finally ended up looking at an approximation of the cover I had wanted for Masked Intentions. Only an approximation though.

I started trying to come up with pre-made cover ideas. While wandering around, I found a stock photo of two pillows and got an idea, so I did it. That’s it, that’s all. I made what was mostly in my head.

My typography and texture mixes are still bothering me. Texture is getting better, but I have to find someplace with typography tutorials. I want to know how I do that thing with the thing and that one over there.

Mine’s just all flat and boring. All I can really do is drop shadow and glow. 

I am doing the smart thing, though, and making up recipe files for my covers. I think there’s a way to save palettes but I don’t know how to do that yet. Rather than spend the three hours teaching myself in the middle of craft time, I grabbed the hex numbers and added them to the recipe file.

So, that’s what I did this weekend. It’s what I plan to do tonight when I get home as well, unless His Grace begs to be written. 

I need to finish Death Mask. Haven’t heard anything back from the betas of Cheating Death, starting to worry it’s a bad book. Ah well, I’m a bad author and a bad cover designer.

I don’t feel bad about that, though, as I will get better.

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