This Book Cannot Make Any Money — Cover Art Options

(Sorry for the delay in posting this article; it was ready to go, minus a couple links, on Sunday; website troubles made it so I couldn’t post until today).

After last week’s post, it should be no surprise to learn I’m not done with the edits for This Book Cannot Make Any Money. I probably won’t be done with that until the book is published.  With the methods mentioned last week, I hope to have the thing “fully” edited before my anticipated release date, but only just.  And, as has been shown by my past experience, even a “fully” edited manuscript might have errors which require post-publication edits.

The Merrimack Event, for example, had been edited multiple times over 13 years time.  More than half a dozen people touched that manuscript, making corrections.  I scoured every sentence to the best of my ability all the way up until the minute before I sent it to Kindle.  Yet there were over thirty errors found after publication I had to go back and fix… and I can tell you that most of them (including every then-than error, which is the thing I get the most nit-picked about in the reviews) were in the manuscript from its original rough draft, six people, thirteen years, and umpteen edits ago.

I’m not giving myself thirteen years to edit This Book Cannot Make Any Money.  I’m hoping to have this book out (the eBook version for certain, and hopefully at least a proof copy of the print version, as well) by my appearance at Marscon, all without encroaching on my writing time for the next Law of Swords book (which I also hope to have done by Marscon, but only to send it to my editor and not to publish).

Marscon is… *checks* less than a month away. *gulp* So I’d better get started on those OTHER things needed to publish this thing. With that in mind, lets talk about book covers.

Let’s start by exploring a no-muss, no fuss option for book covers that, yes, would even fit in my $0 budget. Namely, finding a FREE!  PRE-MADE! book cover from either a free (even) for commercial use, royalty and\or copyright-free stock art site (Pixabay, for example, has several fantastic-looking book covers available) or a professional cover artist who happens to have a few free (though this specific example offers paid-for “additions” like a Createspace-ready wrap version or certain types of marketing images featuring the cover).

This option can work for you… and if you have zero artistic talent and NO eye for art, maybe it’s the best option.  There are big disadvantages, however — you’re not able to ask for a free custom cover that actually fits your book (you might get lucky; for example, if your book features a robot detective (heh), a pre-made cover may feature a generic robot that would work for you), you might have to share your cover with other people (especially if you go with something like the Pixabay option), and — quite frankly — the cover you DO find may not fit the dimensions of your book, forcing you to either crop it, stretch it, or try something else.

Besides, I like the branding potential in always having a custom-illustrated cover for each book of mine.  I may not have any money, but I do have some freeware, and a clip-art site.

So, lets get started…

To begin with, you need to figure out what you’re capable of producing on your own.  Me?  I know the software, and I studied design, but I can’t DRAW anything fit for anywhere more public than a refrigerator.  I don’t expect to win any awards for a free cover I’m making for myself, I really hope nothing I make ends up on Lousybookcovers.com.

But, while I don’t like the idea of pulling someone else’s already completed book cover off of a stock art site, pulling ELEMENTS to make the artwork work from a stock-art site like Pixabay or a clip-art site like OpenClipArt.org should be fine.  And with software like GIMP and Inkscape, you can take those elements and blend them together into a cover that will work just fine for your book.

But what should those elements be?  Well, here are a few suggestions:

  • If you are not a skilled artist (which I am not), do not try to mix media.  It’s hard enough to manipulate single-media images to work (I don’t usually frequent Reddit, but it does have some good examples of what happens when you DON’T do it well); trying to get multiple images from different sources and media will increase the difficulty exponentially.
  • The same goes for art styles.  Mixing manga style artwork and classical renaissance artists could become a real disaster if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Even skilled artists sometimes fail to recognize problems in mixing styles.
  • A few authors use book covers which are designed around a single symbol (for example, this one).  This can work, as it does in the example, but only if it fits the story.  As a collection of disparate story fragments from different genre, that’s definitely not going to work with this book.
  • Oh, yeah, speaking of that — it is vitally important your cover fits both the genre of your book and your story.  Sure, maybe you’ve found a truly attention-grabbing picture of two monkeys swordfighting, but if you’re writing a romance novel that doesn’t have a single monkey in it (swordfighting or not), your audience is going to be annoyed at the bait and switch.  They’ll leave negative reviews (hurting your sales) and won’t buy from you again (hurting your career).

Okay, enough don’ts.  So, what am I going to do?

Well, let’s see.  In addition to the poetry (and I’m not going to market this thing to poetry readers), this collection features fragments from stories with elements of sword and sorcery fantasy, historical fiction set in the Roman era, classical Greek mythology, something that would have been set in the Rink of War universe, and a burger-flipping robot detective story.

Hm…

Well, I’ll see what I can do.  Cover reveal in my next blog, complete with an explanation of everything I did to put it together.  With Christmas and a few other events coming up, that may not be next week, but we’ll see.  I’ve got to hurry if I’m going to finish this series by Marscon.

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