Friday, 7 June 2013

Cover Story (revisited)

As I am getting closer to being ready to release my second novel, I thought that it would be a good time for another cover design feature. As with The Outback, I am still working to a limited budget and will be opting for a self-designed cover. The final image has actually been up on my blog for some time, so here, I will share the step by step process of how and why I chose that particular cover.

I have stated from the outset of this blog, that a major part of the attraction in self publishing is in the personal aspect of the do-it-yourself approach. Sure, I could pay somebody to use a stock image, but call me an egoist; I like the idea of creating my own cover in much the same way that I enjoy creating my own stories. Of course, some time down the line when I can actually make a living from my passion, I may change my mind. But, what the Hell - artists are allowed to be fickle.

Above - This is the base image. It was taken by myself on the island of Koh Phi Phi, in Thailand. I chose this picture because the longtail boat is a recognisable symbol of Thailand and this instantly more accurately pinpoints the location of the story (the title is actually a wordplay on the name of the female lead as well as the continent). I also like the placement of the boat and the fact that there is an island in the background, which suggests mobility within the setting.

Above - Here, I began to play around with various effects. (As with The Outback, I used I thought that the resolution of the original photograph was too high and I wanted to give it a more unreal feel. I liked the effect, although it is still, at this stage, a long way from capturing the tone of the story.

Above - Experimenting with placement of titles. The final font was yet to be chosen.

Above - The image has now been resized and a stronger font chosen. Asia has been written in a text that suggests a ransom note, which begins to hint at the plot. (I tried to have the full title in this script, but it was not clear enough in thumbnail format, which is what most potential readers will see first.) The colour needs work as at this stage it looks more like a travel book than a thriller.

Above - My first experiment with colour. The brightness is far too strong, but it begins to create a more unnatural look, which helps to tone down the strong resolution of the photograph. I always feel put off by books that use undoctored images, as strong realism is more suited to non-fiction than fiction. I believe that a writer should help a reader to conjure up their own pictures to go with the story as opposed to merely showing them theirs. It is this uniqueness that every reader experiences, which makes the written word superior to celluloid.

Above - A darker tone this time. The negative quality to image marks the story out as a thriller, but I was not happy with the white font.

Above - The final design. The colours, I would describe as off-natural, which creates a haunted, things-are-not-quite-as-they-should-be tone.

So, there you have it. My ultimate goal is to create something original, which stands out from more generic covers, but that does also not appear amateurish (although, technically, I am merely a humble amateur). ebook covers are always a tricky thing to get right and I suppose, ultimately, it will be sales that dictate the value of the cover.

It could just be me, but I am actually happier with both of my covers when I view them side by side (as they will be in Amazon) than when taken on their own. I also find it easier to warm to covers on print books (ebook covers always strike me as slightly odd). As ever, please feel free to let me know what you think.

All images copyright David Clarkson 2013

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, David. I found this post interesting and helpful. I chose the covers for my two published novels myself too, but I didn't quite have the courage to play about with them as much as you have. I did a little but probably could have done more.
    i am at the stage of choosing a cover for my next novel.The working title has been 'Flying Free' and it may well be that I'll stick with that, but I haven't settled on an image for my cover. All suggestions welcome.