Why Revise a Book’s Cover?

original cover for Livli's GiftI love the illustrations done by Kay Nielsen for the collection of Norse folk tales East of the Sun and West of the Moon. His work inspired the North-lands in which so many of my stories take place. And his drawings appear on the covers of several of my books.

The cover for Livli’s Gift features an illustration of the gardening queen in the folk tale “Prince Lindworm,” a story that is mentioned as part of the folk lore in my novel.

I still love the cover I originally created, but I felt some qualms about it after I submitted it to Joel Friedlander’s monthly cover design contest in March 2014. Joel found the design depressing. I didn’t agree with him at the time, but his opinion introduced a sliver of doubt into my awareness.

What if he were right? Was my cover causing readers who might love the story to click away from the book’s Amazon page without ever checking the “Look Inside”?

Livli's Gift at thumbnail sizeThat doubt niggled and niggled inside me. Finally I realized what bothered me. At full size, on the paperback or on a Kindle Fire, the cover still looks great to me. But at thumbnail size – the way you initially see it online – it does look gloomy. Or at least somber. Which is all wrong. Livli”s Gift is not a gloomy tale. Honestly, none of my stories are. I infinitely prefer hope and redemption!

I decided my cover needed revision. After all, every indie publisher should revisit the covers of her backlist every 3 to 5 years. Times change, cover styles change, but stories can be forever. Every good story deserves a cover that isn’t dated or stale. And Livli’s Gift deserved a cover that didn’t give a false impression.

But I didn’t want to change the art. I love the line drawing of the queen bending over her cherished plants. Could I achieve my goal by changing the title and byline treatment? That’s what I decided to attempt.

Some thinking was required.

Quantum Zoo thumbnail coverWhat sort of a title treatment should I attempt? Livli is a healer who works with magic, a magical hot spring, massage, and herbal treatments to cure her patients. Perhaps I could give the title a leafy texture to reflect this?

The cover for Quantum Zoo came to mind. I’d given its title a watery texture. Perhaps the same font, Orial, might even work well for Livli’s Gift. The curling ornaments of Orial had the right feeling for Livli, and the broader letters would provide a little more space to give the plant texture visibility.

I put all those elements together.

Livli's Gift cover with Orial titleAnd I didn’t like it. The colors were dull. The letters were too blocky. They’d looked graceful on the Quantum Zoo cover, but they seemed clunky on the Livli cover. I didn’t even bother to test the byline with the Orial-leaf treatment.

I was going to have to try something else.

But I still liked the idea of a leafy texture. Maybe I just needed to find leaves with a brighter green. I remembered a walk I’d taken through my neighborhood, photographing spring flowers and bright green foliage. I checked my files of photos and found the very thing!

But what font should I use?

Livli's Gift, Palatino with leaf textureMaybe I didn’t need to change the original font. Maybe the Palatino on the original cover would work just fine when a texture was added to it. Excited, I put all of these elements together.

Okay!

Now I felt like I was getting somewhere. I liked the brightness and the warmth of the green. I liked the allusion to life and growing things. It still wasn’t quite right, but I could work with this. Where would I go with it next? How might I manipulate it to make it fully right?

I looked at what I had, and looked at it some more. And then one of those inspirations that every artist loves struck me. What if I gave the Palatino font some of the curlicues that were part of the Orial font?

Perfect! It would be perfect!

I set to work again, slicing and dicing, moving this piece here, that piece there. I was knitting or crocheting with Photoshop, and it was fun!

Livli's Gift, lacy green titleWould this be it? Would this be the cover I was longing for?

Yes! It totally rocked! I was so excited. I’d done it!

With the peak so high, you know the fall would be low. And it was. As I looked at my work, I realized that despite the bright warmth of the green, combining it with black yielded the feel of the horror genre.

Oh, no!

Livli’s Gift hasn’t even one speck of horror. Readers who like horror would purchase the book and be disappointed and feel cheated. Readers who like warm and human fantasy with streamers of hope and joy – the perfect audience for Livli’s Gift – would never give it a chance.

Gloom buried me.

I recovered, naturally. But I let the whole project rest. I’d reached the “I got nothing” stage.

So Livli’s Gift kept its old cover for another year.

Then, just last week, I had another idea. The lacy version of Palatino I’d created really was perfect for Livli’s Gift. What if I filled it with a different texture? What if I filled it with a water texture? Livli worked with water far more extenisvely than she did with plants anyway!

With trepidation, I opened that year-old file to see what I could do.

Livli's Gift, water texture titleFilling the title with water was actually quite easy. The challenging work of creating a lacy Palatino was already done. I pasted in the water texture and looked at what I had.

Hmm. It was a nice idea, but it just wasn’t working. For whatever reason, the green leafy texture held together and didn’t confuse the eye. But the water texture didn’t behave similarly. It was too variegated, acting almost as a camouflage pattern, breaking up the edges of the letters and making the title hard to read.

I decided I would search for a better water texture.

After a night of sleep.

When I awoke in the morning, I had another idea. The original blue in the original cover had the bright, warm hue that I wanted. What if I simply used that, instead of pouring in a texture on the already complex lace of the altered font?

Livli's Gift, revised coverI selected the title, filled it with blue, deselected it, and took a look.

I noticed the byline was wider than the title. For no good reason. I modified it, so that the edges of the byline on the right and the left matched up precisely with the edges of the title. Much better!

I liked it.

The lacy Palatino has a pleasant liveliness to it. That particular hue of blue is indeed warm and bright. I hadn’t realized how much the unmodified Palatino creates a somber mood. Somber enough to overpower even the brightness of the warm blue.

Had I achieved my aim?

Livli's Gift, revised versus original coverI reduced the cover down to the tiny size of a thumbnail and studied the result.

Well, first off, on my computer screen, looking at the image in Photoshop, and looking at it on my own website, the original cover looks much more cheerful than it did on either Joel’s website or the Amazon site. That’s because both the other sites don’t render the blue accurately. Different sites really do render colors differently, unfortunately.

On the Kobo site, the cover for Perilous Chance suffers the most of all my covers. Instead of a clear and luminous indigo for the sky, it becomes a dingy purple. Ugh!

And even beyond the alterations caused by the hosting website, there are also all the variations caused by how each individual computer monitor is set. Each reader browsing online will see a slightly different view of each book cover in existence.

In fact, if we want to be through and precise, each reader’s brain and eyes will be calibrated slightly differently from every other reader’s. That way – considering every individual viewer – lies madness.

So, back to Livli’s Gift and how the thumbnail looks on my computer through my eyes. And it looks good. Not quite as nice as at the larger size, but still more cheerful than the original.

I double checked my assessment after I uploaded the new cover file on Amazon. There, the improvement was marked. At both the thumbnail size (which turns up in searches) and the slightly larger size that appears on the product page, the new version is much better than the old one. I’d say it’s a keeper.

Until I decide – in 5 years or so – that it’s time to revise the covers on my backlist again. 😀

To see the original building process for Livli’s cover:
Creating Livli’s Cover

For more about Kay Nielsen:
Kay Nielsen

And for more cover builds:
Building Star-drake’s Cover
Building Glory’s Cover
Building Wild’s Cover

 

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Building Amber

Amber web cov 200I always have fun sharing the process of creating a book cover. My latest is the cover for Caught in Amber, a soon-to-be-released novel in my Mythic Tales series.

As always, the first step was finding images that work. My initial idea was to show my protagonist – Fae – with a fabulous castle in the background. An outside view of the castle.

In the story, the castle is located on relatively level ground amidst rolling hills. I wasn’t going to demand absolute fidelity in the landscape. Finding the right castle in terrain that wasn’t too different would be fine.

But I couldn’t find the right castle. At all.

The castle in Caught in Amber is embarrassingly similar to the Disney castle in Florida. But bigger. Much bigger. With wings constructed in all the architectural styles imaginable. And the real world doesn’t have anything like it. Or, at least, doesn’t have any photos of such a castle available.

Caught in Amber, build 1As is necessary in cover composition, I developed another idea. I would show Fae inside the castle. Which was probably a better idea anyway. Most of the book takes place inside the castle, not outside.

There were more interior photos of castles than I would ever need. Even if I wrote nothing but castle stories for the next ten years! I couldn’t decide amongst them. So I bookmarked several that I liked and moved on.

Time to find Fae!

She’s a gray-eyed girl in her mid-teens with curly brown hair. Surely she wouldn’t be too difficult to match.

But she was.

The brunettes with the right face didn’t have the right hair. The brunettes with the right hair were too old. Or else they they wore big grins on their faces. Fae doesn’t do much grinning in Caught in Amber. Her situation is too scary and dangerous.

Finally I decided to combine two photos: one with the right face and one with the right hair. I did a quick mock-up using comp images, and my idea definitely worked. Both the face model and the hair model had widow’s peaks, so the two images could be combined comfortably.

Once I’d chosen Fae, it was easy to select a castle interior. There was one that complemented her particularly well. I pasted it into my mock-up. It looked good!

Then I went back to revising the manuscript. Sent it out to my second reader. Got her feedback. And revised again.

I save designing the cover as a reward for after the manuscript is complete and close to its final form. Also the blurb. I really need a treat after blurb writing, which doesn’t come easily for me.

More than a month elapsed.

As I arranged to purchase the right to use the photos I’d chosen for the cover, I had second thoughts about my choices. The model looked a little too pugnacious. She just wasn’t the right one after all.

I reviewed all the photos I’d bookmarked and discovered a model who was perfect. I’d rejected her initially, because she looked a little too cheerful. But part of her cheerful aspect was her bridal gown and her studio setting. One of the things I’d learned from my mock-up was that the castle setting caused a really serious model to look too serious. Perhaps a mildly serious model would look exactly right.

I tried the new Fae in my mock-up. She was indeed perfect. This was Fae. I would need to change her brown eyes to gray, but that was an easy fix.

However, the castle scene for the first Fae wasn’t quite right for the second Fae.

I returned to all the castles I’d bookmarked. With such a wide selection to choose from, finding the right castle interior was easy. I was ready to start!

Caught in Amber, cover build 2

I purchased the right to use the two photos, set up my book cover file in Photoshop, and pasted in the castle photo. I extended the right side almost immediately. I knew I would need that extra for the cover bleed.

Then I looked at what I had. The photo was a little overexposed for my purpose. It would undoubtedly be fine as a framed photo on a wall. But as the backdrop on a cover, the brightest parts of the photo – where the sun shone through the arched windows – needed to be less bright.

Caught in Amber, build 3

I selected a portion of the photo that would work well on the back cover (the top left) and pasted it into the file. Then I set about correcting the overexposure as well as changing the color balance to a more saturated hue that would give the castle more density.

I put a translucent screen over the back cover to make it a suitably smooth background for the back cover copy. I lightened the shadows in the wall niches on the back cover for the same reason. The image behind text musn’t vary from light to dark too much.

The odd seam between the front cover and back cover in the lower half did not need to be addressed. Fae would cover it, once she arrived.

Caught in Amber, build 4

With Fae in her castle, I could see that I had a problem with her shoulder. As it wrapped across the spine of the book and then onto the back cover, it would look odd appearing in isolation as it would with all of Fae excepting her hair on the front cover. I followed a shadow line in the photo to reshape her shoulder. That was better, but not quite what I wanted.

I tried adding a few extra curls of her hair. Perfect!

Amber build 5-1

I created the title and my byline. I added the tag lines and the back cover text. It was definitely coming together nicely.

But there were two problem areas.

Fae’s pearly head dress interfered with the title on the spine, making it hard to read.

And the small strands of Fae’s hair that stood away from the main mass of her hair were too bright, making it hard to read the back cover copy.

On the spine I placed some carefully selected and feathered pieces of Fae’s hair under the spine title and over that portion of the pearl head dress. It worked beautifully. Now you could read the title without strain.

I placed a translucent and feathered shadow over the ends of Fae’s hair on the back cover and under the text. That worked well also.

My cover was finished!

I got that fun frisson of “This is real!” when I looked at the composed image. Even though I am the one who worked to put the two photos together, in my heart of hearts I believe that I am looking at Fae as she explores the deserted castle where she awakens without her memories. 😀

Amber build 6-1

For more cover builds:
Building Wild’s Cover
Building Glory’s Cover
Cover Creation: Perilous Chance

 

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Building Rainbow’s Cover

art for Rainbow's Lodestone

The first time I created a book cover for Rainbow’s Lodestone, I couldn’t find any art that looked like my spirit of the rainbow. So I settled for a landscape. It was a dramatic landscape – beautiful – and it had a rainbow against a looming cloudy sky. But I didn’t think it conveyed the essence of my story well.

art for original Rainbow's Lodestone coverSo, when I was ready to create the paperback edition of Rainbow’s Lodestone, I went looking for more suitable art. And I found exactly what I was looking for. The instant I set eyes on the image, I said to myself, “That’s her!”

It was exciting. I purchased the right to use the image on my cover.

The first thing to do was flip the image. I wanted the spirit of light looking to the right, supporting the eye’s natural tendency to move from the top left corner of an image to the bottom right.

The next adjustment needed was creating room for a title. As you can see (above), the art didn’t have room at the top. Nor did it have much room at the bottom for my author byline. I had some work to do. I started to “paint” the extra margins I needed.

I’ve talked before about this “painting” I do in Photoshop. You might be wondering what I mean since that’s not very specific.

This is what I do to extend the background: I take the “lasso” tool and draw a rough shape around a suitable piece of the background. Then I “feather” the edge of my selection, essentially creating a fuzzy edge instead of a crisp one. Next I copy my selection and paste it on a new layer in my file. I move it around until it looks good. Then I merge it back onto the main layer.

That’s it in a nutshell.

But I do it over and over again to fill in the area I need.

modified art for Rainbow's Lodetone

The next steps were less time intensive.

I assessed the back cover area to discern whether type would be easily read atop it. Rarely is it just fine as is. Usually I must either lighten it to receive dark type or darken it to receive light type. Additionally, if there is a lot of variation in lightness and darkness, I must even it out.

Type needs a fairly bland background behind it in order to be easy on the reading eyes.

The art for Rainbow’s Lodestone didn’t extend far enough to the left after I’d added to the top. I could have “painted” yet more background, but I had a better plan in mind.

I sampled three colors from the back ground: a dark blue, a dark aqua, and a black. I selected large irregular triangles in the area that needed to be filled – feathered the edges a lot – and filled them with these three colors. The result was a varying wash of color that blended with the art and also yielded a good background for the back cover text.

Rainbow art with title

The Lodestone Tales follow the lodestones created by Zandro Mytris through the history of my North-lands. Which means I want the covers for all of the stories to look like they belong together.

I’d already chosen the font Bradley Gratis for the titles of the books and the font Gloucester for the tag lines and the back cover text. Working with those choices, I placed the title on the front cover so that it lined up with one edge of the cover and framed the art. Adding my byline and the tag lines was a straight forward matter.

Rainbow’s Lodestone is a short story, which means that its “blurb” is fairly short. I wouldn’t want to plump up the blurb with a lot of spoilers! I had to play with the best size for the text and line spacing, as well as seeking the best way to break the text into paragraphs. It was a matter of trying different arrangements until I got one that looked good.

I submitted this cover to a design contest held every month by Joel Friedlander. He’s a publishing and design professional active in the indie publishing world, and his good opinion is very worth having. I was delighted when Rainbow’s Lodestone won a rare and coveted gold star award!

(Rainbow’s Lodestone is the 30th in the long column of covers shown. Joel doesn’t list them by rank, but randomly.)

Paperback cover for Rainbow's Lodestone

To see more cover builds:
Building Star-drake’s Cover
Building Wild’s Cover
Cover Creation: Perilous Chance

For the basic principles of cover design:
Cover Design Primer

 

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Building Glory’s Cover

y Magnus Sjöberg (Larsson), photo used under a Creative Commons license, FlickrI was so lucky finding images that were perfect for the covers of Fate’s Door and Caught in Amber, I hoped I might be equally lucky with photos for Winter Glory.

I found a gorgeous northern landscape: a snow-covered pine forest with the sun setting through the tree trunks. (Similar to the photo at left.) But I couldn’t find anyone who looked like Ivvar.

This didn’t truly surprise me. Ivvar’s a tall fellow with shoulder-length gray dreadlocks and tan skin. Not tanned by sunlight, but naturally tan, the way my Hammarleedings are.

I searched for a photo of Ivvar last October when I finished writing Winter Glory. I searched in November when I got feedback from my first reader and started revisions. I searched in January when I received feedback from my second reader and made more revisions. I searched in February when the file came back from my proofreader with typos corrected.

I searched one last time when it was time to create the cover.

illustration for East of the Sun and West of the MoonThen I had to face the fact that I simply was not going to find Ivvar photographed by chance by a modern photographer. 😀

I wasn’t panicked. I had a plan B. I would use the illustration by Kay Nielsen for “So the man gave him a pair of snow-shoes” in East of the Sun and West of the Moon. It’s a gorgeous piece of art. It was probably for the best that I’d failed to find a good photo.

As I scanned the Nielsen art, I talked with my husband about my plan for the cover. He was in the other room, so he was not looking at the piece of art concerned. He said: “Oh, yeah! You’ll make one of those black & white covers, like the ones for Troll-magic and Sarvet’s Wanderyar. Great! They’re really your trademark look.”

Right then and there I had an epiphany.

The art showing a man on skies is a color piece. But in the time it took my husband to speak, I’d envisioned it rendered in black & white, and I loved it.

Plus my husband’s suggestion made so much sense. A color painting would be a whole new look for one of my books. But a black & white Kay Nielsen piece would fit right in with the other North-lands and Hammarleeding books.

And I was sure I could do it. The print quality on the black & white illustrations of my 1914 edition of East of the Sun and West of the Moon is very poor. In order to get a clean image for my covers with Kay Nielsen art – crisp lines without inkblots, black blacks, and white whites – I’d always placed the art on a light table and traced it.

I was certain I could do the same for a color illustration. It would be trickier. I’d be making value judgements all the way through about how to render shades of color as either shades of gray or patterns of black & white lines. But Nielsen’s work lends itself to black & white interpretation. Even his color work has interesting line and texture present.

I scrutinized the piece of art depicting the skier. Yes! I could see in my mind’s eye exactly how I would do it.

So I set to work.

black & white sketch for Winter Glory

I was nervous at first. So nervous that my hand kept shaking. I had to talk myself down. “Jessica, any small mistakes can be corrected in Photoshop. And if you make a big mistake, it won’t be the worst thing if you have to start over. Relax. Relax. Relax.”

My hand was still not steady with that first line of ink on paper. I got a fresh sheet of paper. And started on the skier’s hair, which was supposed to be squiggley. By the time I finished the hair, my hand was steady. I’d forgotten my nerves and was enjoying the drawing.

I was almost sad when I finished, except that there was more fun ahead.

I scanned my black & white drawing into my computer and started building the cover for Winter Glory.

The first step was to select the stars and turn them from black to white. Then I put a gradient screen from the top of the cover to the bottom, thus creating the sky. I loved how that made the skier pop!

Adding the sky to the cover for Winter Glory

Next step? The title.

I already knew I wanted to use the cloak texture from the original color illustration, but I wanted to get the title’s size and placement settled using Photoshop’s type managing tools. I would turn the layer from a type layer to an image layer after I got the type exactly the way I wanted it. So I used a bright red to help me visualize the final result.

Adding title and byline to the cover for Winter Glory

The cloak in the original illustration was a lovely patch of color. It was big enough that I could have just selected it and “pasted it inside” of the letters of the title and my author byline. But it would have been a lot of pasting.

cloak textureSo I made a square of the texture first – pasting and pasting and pasting that cloak patch into a separate file. I increased the saturation, and heightened the reds and yellows to achieve the effect I wanted.

Once the cloak texture file was ready, I selected the whole square and pasted that inside the letters of my cover file. It took four pastes to fill them all. Instead of ten or more!

The textured title softened the overall effect of the art. The black & white art with the solid red title has a crisp and definite look that I like. But it’s a little too hard-edged for the story, which blends life-threatening action with romance.

Winter Glory cover with textured title

Then I was closing in on the finish line.

I added the tag lines – one above the title, one below my author byline. And my trademark line, connecting the big “J” to “Author of Sarvet’s Wanderyar.”

I placed the back cover copy. I placed the title on the back cover. Next came the spine: title, byline, and Wild Unicorn logo.

And finally the publisher info and the box for the barcode.

I was done! It’s ready to be placed in an InDesign file for the paperback cover, and to be windowed for the ebook cover. 😀

Glory cov build 7

For more cover builds:
Cover Creation: Perilous Chance
Building Star-drake’s Cover
Creating Livli’s Cover

For the principles of cover design:
Cover Design Primer

 

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Back Cover Design: Hunting Wild

Hunting Wild back coverThe front cover gets all the love!

I’ve seen a lot of information about designing the front cover for a book, but only a little about the back cover. There’s a reason for that, of course. The front cover sells the book. It catches the eye of a prospective reader and encourages him or her to look inside.

Ebooks don’t even have back covers. And, until recently, none of the online bookstores ever showed the back cover of a paper book. If you wanted to see the back cover, you had to walk into a brick and mortar store. (Or wait until your purchased paperback arrived on your doorstep.)

But any book that has a paper edition needs a back cover for it. That back cover must be attractive and harmonize with the front cover. It needs to have sizzle, as well as the “steak” of the back cover copy. And it needs to have certain information, such as the bar code, the publisher, maybe the price.

I thought it might be interesting if I shared some of my experiences with back covers.

The first thing I learned was that when I create the front cover for the ebook and wait until I start building the paperback to design the back cover, it’s much harder! I did the covers for Troll-magic and Sarvet’s Wanderyar in this piecemeal way. I got them to work, but…hoo boy!

All the books that came after, I created the paperback cover first and simply used the right half for the front cover of the ebook.

Let me show what the paperback cover of Hunting Wild looked like when I was ready to start finalizing the back cover.

Hunting Wild back cover

One of the things that you’ll notice in the image above is that it’s a whole lot bigger than it needs to be. There are two reasons for that.

1) It has an extra half inch all the way around the edge. That’s because I’ve learned from experience that it is infinitely easier to chop off unneeded edges than it is to add more later if it turns out you miscalculated and need the art a little taller or a little wider. I give myself plenty of wiggle room.

You need only a one-eighth inch bleed when you upload the cover file to CreateSpace. But I have found that when I paste my TIFF file into my InDesign file – I do covers in InDesign – the margins sometime get funky and weird. There have been several times I’ve been very glad of my extra margin.

2) Because I am creating the paperback cover before I create the paperback interior, I don’t know exactly how many pages the book will be. Which means I cannot calculate the precise width of the spine. So I allow an extra inch on the far left of my image, in order to have enough image to go from the bleed on the far right all the way across the front, then around the spine, then across the back, and finish beyond the leftmost bleed.

For Hunting Wild, I had planned to purchase a photo of a stone wall to use as a continuation of the wall coming off the stair tower on the front. However, when I tried a mock-up using a watermarked comp image, I didn’t like the result.

So I decided to “paint” that wall extension by copying and pasting the stone blocks (and smoothing the joins) from the left edge of the stair tower photo. I was very pleased with how that worked. It looks natural to my eye, and it makes a good, even background for the back cover text.

Hunting Wild back with text

I’ve cropped the cover image above, to the approximate size it will be on the paperback, using an estimate of the spine width. It is easy to move the text and the title on the back cover from side to side. So I will place it more exactly when I know the precise spine width.

My second reader is still reading and generating feedback for Hunting Wild, so I have another round of revisions on the book before I can send it to my proofreader. When I get it back from my proofreader, I will start formatting it for both the ebook edition and the paperback edition.

Only when I have the precise spine width will I place the white box needed for the bar code, as well as placing text indicating my publishing imprint (Wild Unicorn Books), the genre (fantasy), and the price (which is determined by the page count).

I’ll also wait to place the title and my byline on the spine.

There are a lot of elements that must go on the back cover, and it’s important to use some of the same design principles that go into designing the front cover: alignment, grouping, and type fonts that match those used on the front.

I’ll be posting more about back covers. Until then, here’s the link to my Cover Design Primer, so you can bone up on those design principles. 😉

And, if you missed it, here’s the post about designing the front cover for Hunting Wild.

 

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Building Foe’s Cover

Egypt 300 pxI’m imagining that some of you might say: “That J.M. Ney-Grimm! She has too much fun creating the covers for her books.” And you’d be quite right. It even seems a trifle unreasonable to me that I enjoy cover design as much as I do.

Not only do I love designing covers, I also like showing you how I did it. Today I’m going to pull back the curtain on the creation of the cover for Serpent’s Foe.

I found art that I adored long before I needed it, so I posted the art on the story’s “coming soon” page on my website. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it work on a cover, because the art has no space for the book title near the top. And the image at the bottom is too variegated for my byline to show well there.

sky 300 pxWhen it was time for me to decide what I would do, I searched for another alternative. One that wouldn’t require as much Photoshop “painting” as I guessed this image would need. But I couldn’t find anything I liked better. Probably because I liked this image so very much.

So I committed to the painting “Egypt Personified” by Farid Fidel and started thinking about how I could make it work. The first thing to do was find a photo of clouds and sky that matched the clouds and sky in the painting. There must be a bajillion such photos, and with so many to choose from, I was able to find one that looked really close.

a lot of empty spaceTo begin, I placed “Egypt Personified” into my file. As you can see, when room is made for a title, there’s a lot of space that needs art behind it and doesn’t have it. The next step was to place the clouds-and-sky photo behind the painting. The edge between the photo and the painting was very sharp, as I expected. I had a lot of Photoshop work to do, so I dove into it.

The sky in the photo is a more yellow blue than the sky in the painting, and it’s a harder, more saturated hue. The clouds in the photo are also yellower than the clouds in the painting.

I color corrected the photo’s sky, shifting the blue away from yellow and toward magenta, also desaturating it to get a softer blue. That helped the clouds match better as well, but I needed to pump up the brightness to get the clouds fully white.

Egypt w-rough skyOnce the colors matched fairly well, I stretched the photo to get its clouds close to where there were clouds in the painting.

Then I put copies of both stretched photo and painting on the same layer in my Photoshop file, so that I could start obscuring that edge by “painting” over it and blending the areas of the two images that were close to one another.

I’ve gotten a lot of practice at this sort of “painting” lately. (Yes, I’m grinning and thinking of the cover for Hunting Wild.) Because of all that practice, this sky “painting” felt fairly straight forward.

I’d paint a bit with the screen magnifying that portion so I could see exactly what I was doing. Then I’d zoom out to see what the whole looked like. And then I’d zoom in to do some more. Back and forth until, several hours later, I’d gotten it all done, and I was satisfied with the result.

Egypt art readyThe sky wasn’t the only item that needed adjustment. I tried my byline against the bottom of the painting, hoping it might work. Not only was it impossible to read, but it was hard on the eyes.

Potential readers would be clicking away from the web page with my book on it just to save their eyes from the “ouch” that my byline generated – half on the water lilies and half on Egypt’s gown.

Once more I set to work. This time I selected the lilies and pasted them into another layer where I could expand them. Egypt would be up to her knees in lilies, rather than just ankle deep.

I created a lavender mist to match the one rising off the Nile River in the painting. And I added a translucent shadow across the lily leaves to make a better background for my byline.

Since I’d already created the byline, and seen that it needed a different background than the one originally there, I made it invisible while I “painted,” but clicked it visible to check my progress.

Had I placed the higher lilies in the right place? Was the translucent shadow in the right place? Was it deep enough? Again, there was a lot of back and forth, zoom in, zoom out.

Serpent feature cover 300Finally, the blended images blended well enough to seem all of one piece. And then I was nearly done.

When I first placed the painting in my file, I’d done a mock-up of the title to be sure Egypt was standing in the right place. But now it was time to finalize the title.

I wanted it to pick up the different shades of gold in the painting and to harmonize with Egypt’s skin, so I color corrected the title, deepening its hue, saturating it, and reducing its brightness.

It still didn’t pop as much as I wanted it to, so I painted over one of the clouds (in the photo part of the image) with blue sky. That was much better, but still not quite there. I added a translucent blue shadow behind the title, and then I was satisfied. The cover for Serpent’s Foe was complete!

For more cover builds:
Cover Creation: Perilous Chance
Building Star-drake’s Cover
Cover Makeovers

For the principles of cover design:
Cover Design Primer

 

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Building Wild’s Cover

As I gain experience with building covers for my books, I find the process growing more and more like painting with Photoshop. All of my covers, even the earliest ones, required some manipulation in Photoshop. Darkening the blacks. Balancing the colors. Adding to the edges of the art when those edges were ragged or simply didn’t give me enough extra for the trimming that occurs when paperback books are made.

But the cover for Hunting Wild required the most “painting” of any cover yet!

I found the process of transformation – from photos purchased on Dreamstime.com to finished cover – fascinating. Naturally I want to share the journey with you. 😀

purchased Dreamstimes photo of Chambord The original photo of the interior of a palace tower depicted one of the stair towers from Chambord, an incredible chateau in the Loire valley of France. The tower was perfect as a rendition of my own Baloron, the castle in which Hunting Wild takes place, except for two things.

One: Baloron is made of reddish stone, not white. And two: the landscape visible through the tower windows should be a dry plain studded with olive trees, not a palace courtyard. Luckily, both were problems I felt confidant I could correct.

 

H Wild red towerMy first step was to cut away the courtyard seen through the openings of the Chambord stair tower. Then I turned the tower stone red. This image shows the arched fill-in I created for the square window at the upper left. In the process of building the cover, the window change came later, when I was trying to fit my title over the art. It was not working well – the title didn’t pop enough where it crossed the open window. I added the arched fill-in to give a better background for the title.

As I worked on the title, I also found I needed a little more tower at the right edge, so I “painted” that in.

I purchased a landscape of olive groves to use for the landscape around Baloron.

olice grove landscape photo purchased from DreamstimeIf I were being absolutely strict about Baloron’s landscape, I would have insisted on a grassy plain, perhaps with a lake in the background. I did look for such an image, but couldn’t find anything suitable. Since the region around Baloron includes olive groves (and cork trees), even though its immediate acreage does not, it seemed reasonable to compromise.

I didn’t use the entire photo that I purchased the rights to, just a portion of it. If you look closely at the right edge, you’ll see that I used the mirror image of a portion of the photo to extend the edge with the textures that my “painting” required. It creates a funny Rorshach-like pattern that isn’t visible in the final cover image, but that would be problematic if it were.

There’s another anomaly in the lower right portion of the photo. I pasted a portion of the tree tops into the area behind the right balustrade to achieve a more pleasing effect than what was there without editing. I find it interesting that the backside of this “tapestry” is so messy. 😀

H Wild tower wLandscapeWhen I pasted the landscape into my painting, I initially used the photo in its original state. I needed to see what exactly showed through the tower window and the tower balustrade. I moved the landscape around to get the view through the window right. Then I started copying and pasting different pieces of the photo into the landscape that showed through the balustrade. There was a lot of trial and error.

Nope. Nope! No, not that either!

Eventually I achieved a result that I liked. Yay!

Then I noticed that the landscape looked a little too dark for the composition. The landscape photo was taken out of doors, of course. But when you look out at a landscape from indoors, your eyes are adjusted to the light levels indoors, which are much dimmer than outdoors. This makes the outdoors look brighter in comparison. So I adjusted the brightness of the landscape layer in my cover file. Another “yay!” when I nailed it.

H Wild both girlsNow my setting was ready for my heroine! I purchased all three of the photos at the same time. I’d looked at hundreds, and only made my final choices when I was sure they would work well together. Even then, I did not purchase the right to use the photos until I’d downloaded low-resolution (and watermarked) comp images and put them together in a test cover to make sure they would work.

Each of the three photos cost $15 for the right to use it on my cover. Plus there was a fourth $15 image that I’d need for the back cover. I didn’t want to spend $60 until I was sure my selections would go together the way I envisioned them. I have planned compositions that simply didn’t work. This one, I am happy to report, did.

H Wild tower wGirlFinding a young woman gowned in garb suitable to a medieval setting who also looked like my heroine was hard. I searched and searched and searched. Finally I settled on a photo in which the model was perfect, although her clothing was not. There wouldn’t be much of her gown showing, so the style (which is Victorian) was not critical. But the fuchsia color would simply not work in my “painting.” I would need to change it to green. Also, she really needed to have the ruffles of a chemise (an undergarment) showing at the neckline.

Even more difficult, the position of her arms would not work. I felt confidant I could change fuchsia to green. I even felt confidant I could create the chemise ruffle. I’d copy the neckline of her dress and paste it onto another layer of my file. Then turn it to a creamy white. Then set the translucency to 50% or so. As I’d envisioned, those changes were fairly straight forward. But the arms?

In my mock-up test cover, the arms proved to be no trouble. Only her shoulders were showing. Plus I’d tipped her forward to have her gazing out over the tower balustrade (rather than staring at the tower wall). I simply removed her arms from the image! (Ew! Sounds gory, doesn’t it?) In the final draft, I found I needed more room for my author byline, which meant I needed to show more of her upper torso. I had to do a lot of copy-and-paste “painting” to lenghthen her sleeves. But I was pleased with the result.

Next came the title, author byline, and taglines. I’d say this part was easy – and it was, compared to the work required for my heroine – except you know from my account above that I had a lot of trouble placing the title. I found a gorgeous font for the title: Mephisto And I discovered that the font Aclonica – for the tag lines and back cover copy – complemented Mephisto perfectly.

But I had to reposition the tower, which involved extending it at the top and right side. I had to create an arched fill-in for the square window. And I had to reposition my heroine, which involved lengthening her sleeves. Yikes! But I did it!

Then I decided that I wasn’t satisfied with how the author byline looked in the Mephisto font. It just didn’t look right to me. (You can see that version in my earlier post: Cover Preview: Hunting Wild.) Plus the points of the letters extended so far down that I couldn’t make my trademark byline work – underline connecting the “J” and the “Author of Troll-magic.”

H Wild wTitleI fretted about the situation for several weeks. I created a cover for another book, on which my trademark author byline worked beautifully. I growled to myself about Hunting Wild. Finally, it occurred to me that I could use Aclonica – the font in the taglines – for my byline as well. I couldn’t just type it in, however. Small caps looked weird. Upper/lower case didn’t match my branding. So I customized: upper/lower for most of it, stretched lower case “M” and “N,” and an upper case “Y.”

There! Finally! I liked it! 😀

 
 
 

Let’s take a quick look at the finished cover side by side with two of the photos that went into creating it. Do you see why I call it “painting” in Photoshop? The transformation is rather dramatic. At least – I think so. 😉

H Wild triptych

For more cover builds:
Cover Creation: Perilous Chance
Building Star-drake’s Cover
Creating Livli’s Cover

For the principles of cover design:
Cover Design Primer

 

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Color Is the New Black

The interior walls of my home are white. By choice.

Too many of the clothes in my wardrobe are black & white. With touches of blue. Again: my choice.

I love black & white photos. I adore black & white line art.

Is there something a little off with me? What is this black & white fetish?

I’m guessing you can see where this is going! When it came time to design my book covers, I chose the ravishingly beautiful black & white illustrations by Kay Nielsen for the art. Unfortunately for me, not everyone shares my predilection for black & white. More specifically, readers often prefer images with more color.

“The art is so dark!” says one. “Almost dingy.”

“I couldn’t tell what it was, really,” says another. “It’s incomprehensible!”

“But your stories are so vivid, and your landscapes so stunning. The black & white covers don’t do justice to either.”

They made excellent points. Enough so, that I opened up Photoshop for another try at the cover for Troll-magic.

Two covers for Troll-magic

What do you think?

I continue to be entranced by the black & white one, but I like the colorful one (art by Victor Candell) as well. Yet I remain on the fence. B&W? Color? B&W? Color?

I’ve uploaded the colorful one to Amazon to appear as the cover for the ebook. Changing the print edition would be a much larger project, so it remains black & white (with a touch of gold) for now. I’m curious to see what will happen. Will more readers decide Troll-magic is for them? Fewer? The same number? I’ll let you know some time in August. Grin!

In the meantime, I’m very interested in your opinion. Please leave your vote in the comments!

Update: Thank you so much to each of you who shared in the comments. I have a better understanding of how my covers strike readers, because of you! “What was my decision?” you wonder. Black & white. It is unique. I’ll stand out in a crowd. 😀

For more about my book covers:
Cover Creation: Perilous Chance
Building Star-drake’s Cover
Creating Livli’s Cover

For more about how to design book covers:
Cover Design Primer

 

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Choosing a Tagline Font

Sarvet's WanderyarThe print edition for Sarvet’s Wanderyar was so close to release. Just one more proof cycle, click the “approve” button, and there she was – on the bookstore shelf, ready for readers to enjoy!

But!

You knew there was a “but,” didn’t you? After all, as I write this post, the print edition of Sarvet’s Wanderyar is definitively not on any bookshelves. What happened?

I learned a bit of history, which I’m going to share with you!

In the 1800’s and on into the early 1900’s, many authors self-published, including greats – such as Mark Twain – who gave us our classics. Then times changed and for decades self-publishing was not a viable option. In 2009, with the advent of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program, indie publishing became viable again. Writers with a pioneering spirit jumped in. Many of them wrote fantasy, and all of them were creating their own covers, whether they had design expertise or not.

Right now, in 2013, there are plenty of graphic designers available to create covers for e-books. In 2009? Not so much. So the indies gave it their best shot, producing covers that were glorious by accident, mediocre by default, or (alas) atrocious. Writers write. But only a few of them wrestle Photoshop and win!

Most of the writers used the fonts that came on their computers, and the fantasy authors were no different. What was there among those scant 200 typefaces that would work well for titles? Quite a few sans serif fonts for thrillers, a scattering of script fonts for romances, and many traditional fonts for mainstream fiction. For the fantasy novels? Matura.

So Matura showed up again and again and again on fantasy covers. Matura used well. Matura used poorly. Matura, Matura, Matura. Writers making covers and readers buying e-books grew sick of it!

I entered the indie pub world late in 2011. Indies had moved on from their early efforts. Some hired designers for their covers, others upgraded their skills. Nobody limited themselves to the fonts that came with their computer. There were a million and one fonts available online for a modest price. Result: nobody used Matura anymore! In fact, Matura wasn’t even listed among the fonts on my own computer.

I knew right away that I wanted to use Palatino for my titles. It’s a traditional font with an extra share of grace, featuring elongated ascenders and descenders (the lines rising from b’s and d’s, or heading down from g’s and q’s) and delicate curves. That grace seems to express the essence of my North-lands, but is easier to read than a decorative “fantasy” font. It also enlarges well to the size necessary for titles. So: Palatino. Yes.

At first I intended to use Palatino for my taglines as well as my titles. Fortunately I took a workshop! It taught me that a) taglines need not be visible in thumbnail-sized images (my first covers had them too big); and b) using only one font on a cover is sedate. Did I want my stories to be perceived as sedate. No!

Time to do a font search.

First, let’s review the rules for choosing fonts.

1) Do use two different fonts.

Check. I was using Palatino for the title and the author byline. I was seeking a different font to use on the taglines – one above the title, one below the author byline.

2) Never use more than one font from any one category of fonts.

Right. Palatino is an old style serif font. My second font would ideally be a sans serif font, a script font, or a decorative font. If I chose a decorative font, it should be a simple one, not ornate. Modern fonts and slab serif fonts don’t go very well with the fantasy feel of my stories. (For a review of the six font categories see my Cover Copy Primer.)

3) Use fonts that are very different in their characteristics, that contrast with one another.

Palatino has a very calm, vertical, linear feel to it. A contrasting font should be curvier, perhaps possess more horizontal energy, and have more variation between its thickest and thinnest strokes. Let’s see what I found.

I searched and I searched and I searched. The right font was not jumping out at me. At last, I chose … Matura! Knowing nothing of its 2009 history, I took joy in my find. (Dear me!)

Last fall, I learned that some people hate Matura. Hmm. Should I change it? Maybe. I was still on the fence when I learned the full story this spring. Should I change it? Probably. So I went looking again.

Before I show you what I found, here’s the top portion of Sarvet’s Wanderyar with the Matura font appearing both in the word “Wanderyar” and in the tagline “Running away leads straight back home – or does it?”

Matura tagline

It still looks good to me. But let’s follow my search and see what some of the other possibilities look like.

I liked Matura for the boldness of its line. It’s easier to read than more spidery decorative fonts. And it contrasts nicely with the delicacy of Palatino. It is sans serif, while Palatino is a serif font. The points at the ends at each stroke contrast with the strict horizontal nature of Palatino’s serifs. Bottom line: it’s got a lot going for it.

Seeking Matura’s replacement, I looked at calligraphy fonts, Celtic fonts, Gothic fonts, Old English fonts, and sans serif fonts. Nothing really grabbed me, but I saw some possibilities. In fact, I saw thirty-plus possibilities. I downloaded them all! And started trying them in Word. Hmm. In Word, none of them won my regard when they went head-to-head with Matura. So I chose the best of the lot and tried them in Photoshop, with a full cover treatment.

Here’s the font Paladin.

Paladin font

It’s got a calligraphy style to it, much like Matura. Its curves contrast nicely with Palatino. But Paladin is much harder to read than Matura. And the extreme variation in its line weight – from broad and thick to spidery thin – is not to my taste. Let’s look at something else!

Here’s Mysticor.

Mysticor font

Much better! But it’s a little too curvy. Kind of like the curly writing of young girls who dot their i’s with hearts. Yikes! In the d and the y, even the straight strokes are curved. Plus Mysticor’s line weight is too close to that of Palatino. So … no.

Next!

Here’s Devinne.

Devinne font

Now, I like Devinne. I’d considered it during my first search for a tagline font. I voted against it, because it was less legible than Matura. But what about it? Maybe I should reconsider.

Devinne has a nice blend of thick and thin, as well as a balanced movement between straight and curved. In fact, it’s almost perfect in its contrast with the Palatino. Except for one thing. I’d not considered Devinne a serif font. Mostly, it isn’t. But look at that W and that n and that r. Serifs. One of the rules of font selection is that you don’t place two different serif fonts together on a cover. Can you break the rule? In a heartbeat, if it works. But it doesn’t work here. The serifs, especially on that W, fight for dominance with the serifs on the Palatino Sarvet. Plus … Devinne is so dang hard to read. So, no.

Here’s something simpler, a sans serif named Fondamento.

Fondamento font

Pleasing, but really just a slightly straighter version of Mysticor above. Let’s move on!

What about Black Chancery?

I like it. I like it a lot. And I almost chose it for my tagline font. Except I hate the exaggerated tails on the d and the y. The serifs on the W clash with the Palatino serifs on Sarvet. The W does not cradle the S the way the Matura W does. And the font as a whole is less legible.

Black Chancery font

The five fonts I’ve shown you here were the best of the lot. All the other twenty-plus were less successful variants on these final contenders (the way Mysticor and Fondamento are variants of one another).

So, what am I doing? I’m keeping Matura.

This is my thinking:

Sarvet's WanderyarI’m writing to please my readers. Some of my readers will be indies who published their own books in 2009. But that’s a pretty select crew! The vast majority of my readers never cracked an e-book until much later. Most of my readers never suffered through the overuse and abuse of Matura. To most of my readers, the Matura in my taglines will look as fresh and appealing as it does to me.

Will I always stick with Matura? That’s a whole ‘nother question. Every publisher updates her covers as the years pass. Culture changes, and images that seemed appropriate and attractive in one decade look dated and awkward in the next. So my covers will change. But not this month!

Time to push that last revision cycle on Sarvet’s Wanderyar along and release the print edition!

Update: Sarvet’s Wanderyar is now in print! See the announcement here.

For more about book covers:
Cover Design Primer, the fundamentals of cover design.
Cover Makeovers, a series of before’s and after’s.
Perilous Chance, Star-drake, and Livli’s Gift, the design process in action.

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Cover Makeovers

Extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, Celtic sea salt, Dijon mustard, and . . . shake!
It spreads very nicely over romaine lettuce and thin slices of cucumber. Yum!

But although I include recipes on my blog, this is not a cooking post.

(Sorry! Didn’t mean to mislead you!)

Continuing my metaphor, let’s take a different recipe. Water, oil, and a ton of shaking . . . will just tire your arm!

So why am I talking about emulsifying and non-emulsifying substances?

Because I need to mention a certain non-item: me and campy literature. We are not an item. We are the oil and the water. No matter how much you shake us, we just don’t mix. It’s a failing, I know. But . . . I am what I am.

On the other hand, me and campy images? Yes, yes, YES! Those are tremendous fun. And I just received the privilege of playing in exactly that garden. Shantnu Tiwari, writer of campy satire, sought my feedback on his cover designs. I haven’t read his stories (although I’m tempted), but his cover concepts drew me in like a rose draws the bee. Wow! I couldn’t wait to get my Photoshopping fingers in that pie.

Here are the BEFORE’s:

Shantnu Tiwari's cover designs

 

Now, fingertips dripping blueberry juice and scattering the odd pecan (all these mixed metaphors are making me hungry), my cover tweaks are done, and I want to share the AFTER’s with you, along with some commentary.

It’s a fun way to learn more about cover design and serves as a nice sequel to my earlier Cover Design Primer.

Here’s the first problem child, chock full of potential, quirky and unusual, but not quite there.

Bathroom imp guards unspooling money TPSo what’s wrong with it? The biggest problem is alignment. It doesn’t have any. The title has a left alignment with a ragged right, while the author byline has a center alignment, except it’s not centered on the cover, but in the space between the unravelling TP and the tile wall. And neither relates well to the photo art, exacerbated by haphazard grouping. The second line in the title floats away from the first line, while crowding the gun-toting TP saboteur. The author byline floats unconnected and unanchored in its space.

Lack of contrast provides the final straw. All the colors are mild and bland. The image lacks punch.

Despite these issues, the concept is fabulous. Money unspooling as TP, supervised by a bathroom imp? Wow! All of the alignment and grouping issues are simple fixes. The contrast (since we’re keeping the same photo art) is harder, but it can certainly be improved. Here’s the after.

Bathroom imp guards unspooling money TPTerrorists have decided to hit the West where it will hurt the most: their bowels. Now two super spies will teach the terrorists a lesson they will never forget: nobody touches our toilet paper and lives to tell the tale. Starring Jack, an evil space monkey aficionado, and Shakespeare, an imposter importer of burkhas (this time).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cover number two suffers from similar problems: lack of alignment and ineffective grouping. The black and white hide of the cow, together with the dark hair of the zombie, provide better contrast, but the yellow title fades against the blue sky.

Additionally, aside from the quirky imagery, the cover possesses no visual branding. The author byline is handled differently than it was in the previous book (much smaller point size and different font) and placed erratically. Ditto for the title (all CAPS instead of upper/lower, but with no real reason for the change).

Soaring cow worries about threatened zombieThere is a further problem with the colors chosen for the title and the author byline. They are two shades of yellow. They need to be either the exact same shade of yellow or completely different colors. Similar, but not the same, is . . . not good!

But, again, the concept is marvelous. This cow might be a relative to the moon-jumping bovine of the nursery rhyme; however, her concern is not jigging to a fiddle tune, but the fate of a threatened zombie. Ridiculously cool!

And – also again – the fixes are easy. Tidy up the alignment and grouping issues. Chose one yellow for the title and author byline. Place a shadow behind them to pop the yellow. Use the same font and placement for the author byline from The Toilet Paper Conspiracy to develop an author brand. Change the haphazard talking bubble with a more carefully drawn thought bubble. And there you have it!

Soaring cow worries about threatened zombieA secret society is planning to destroy humanity. Only one person can stop them. Unfortunately, she’s out of town. Now it’s up to the other guys – a potato farmer, two beer addicted spies, and the super hero Cow Man (bitten by a radioactive cow) – to save the day. But are the heroes up to the task? Will they survive? Is the world safe? (If you don’t want to read the book, the answers are: Yes, Yes, and Yes!)

 
 
 
 
 
 

Grinning shark with exec case and tropical paradiseNow we’re getting to some art with visual punch. The dark-suited shark contrasts well with the pale beach sand and the jewel-toned tropical water. And the concept continues superb. Toothy grin, exec case, and island paradise. What could be better?!

But the type wanders, weakening the otherwise strong image, which it crowds. Branding elements are absent. The title is too small. All easily fixed.

 
 
 

Toothy grinning shark with exec case and tropical islandTired of living in your mother’s basement? Tired of not having a girlfriend? Why not become a Super Villain? Earn the respect of peers and the admiration of all the hot girls! We teach you, step by step, how easy it is:
• Take over the world using time traveling cows and zombie chickens.
• Capture heroes using ice cream and bananas
• Negotiate over Twitter!
Quote: Taking over the world is no more dangerous than driving to work everyday (in Afghanistan, while wearing a miniskirt and push-up bra, while singing “Oh America you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind”). The book is dedicated to Pinky and the Brain. You inspired us man. Totally inspired us.

 

Santa versus paramilitary at ChristmasI love this cover, even with its misalignments and hesitant title. It’s got so many things done right: the charm of the Santa image and the holiday background juxtaposed with the black-garbed paramilitary; the harmony of the blue/green/red color palette given brightness by the yellow author byline and punch by the dark jackets; the appealing simplicity of the font in the author byline. Huge thumb’s up!

And yet . . . giving the title more umph and pizzaz (to mirror the piquancy of the art) and correcting the misalignments could give it even more visual clout. This was the lure that first attracted me to this entertainment. I couldn’t wait to dive in!

Paramilitary arrest SantaSanta comes down the chimney and finds a dead body. The police bust in and arrest him. A little girl has all her gifts confiscated as evidence. North Pole sends its Reindeer Regiment to bomb the city of Loondumb to the ground. Before war destroys the country, someone must answer the question: who framed Santa Claus?

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tour of covers BEFORE and AFTER. What do you think? Did I succeed in retaining their quirky charm while adding to their impact? Metaphorical penny for your thoughts!

 

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Shantnu Tiwari says this about himself: “Fighting for the rights of zombies since 1936. If you want books with sophistication and elegance, whose words move you and touch your heart, whose literary eloquence will impress critics and professors alike, don’t read my books. Cause I don’t write stuff like that. If you think the world ending because toilet paper ran out, or fat and hairy terrorists dressing up as women to seduce policemen is funny, then you will love my books.”

Shantnu Tiwari's new covers

The Zombie’s Life is in Danger, The Toilet Paper Conspiracy, You Can Be a Super Villain!, and Who Framed Santa Claus? are all available as ebooks and paperbacks at Amazon. The author also urges his readers to come say hello at http://shantnutiwari.com.

* * *

After word of mouth, book covers, cover copy, and story openings connect books with readers. My Cover Design Primer, Cover Copy Primer, Eyes Glaze Over? Never!, and The First Lines present basic concepts for how to do these well.

 

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