Folks, if you go to the post before this one and read the comments, there is a discussion going on about cover art. One of the drawbacks is that this system won’t let me post media examples in the reply boxes. So this here subject can be caught up on by reading those comments, then coming here. ^_^
Wildscar is an artist, and a guy whom I consider a friend. Three and a half years ago, he did a book cover for me for my novel, Defenders of Valinthia. Here is his work, which I personally like.
This is the cover that is in place to this day. With this cover, I am happy with it. However, I have gotten some feedback on the cover art… not the accuracy, but the style. Amy Safeunderdark has pointed out that this level of work isn’t easily done and takes time, talent and tons of practice. She’s right. Overall, Wildscar (the cover artist) gave me exactly what I asked for.
Three and a half years ago, this is the example I sent to him, demonstrating what I was looking for.
I have to say, the cover artist is a superior designer over my own skills… as I’ve mentioned… three and a half years ago.
Investing the time into my own skills, learning the principles of photography, lighting and shadows, graphics design… none of those are lumped up into one budget friendly course, not to mention the tremendous amount of practice that it all goes into.
Also mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t want to start making ‘stock photo’ based covers, because of accidental repeats, such as this one:
The true issue here isn’t about who is a skilled artist, or who isn’t. Wildscar’s and Amy’s skills are unique and well-developed. What I am dealing with is two levels of professionalism. One is based on customer perception, the other on an age-old industry that has been selling books for hundreds of years. Both have standards, and we have best seller novels when they both can agree on one thing. What makes a book into a best-selling novel.
Have you ever heard of the ancient axiom to never judge a book by its cover? It exists because this is exactly what 98% of the population does when shopping for a novel. They judge it by the cover first. The content comes next, but they have to get to that point through the cover. You, my dear friends, may be the few who doesn’t truly judge a book by its cover, and that is all to the good. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t operate as well-intended as you do.
So, where does Daniel’s (me) skills stand today? Let us take a look at a few covers I designed myself. First up, photostock and layout style, Chronicles of Valinthia.
This is the paperback cover, where the front is on the right, the spine in the middle and the back on the left. The ebook version only uses the front cover. Check out the ebook here. You can check out the paperback version here.
This one was recently produced, not more than a month ago, the whole trilogy under one cover. Don’t holler at me for not announcing it, this is a ‘test’ run for one year, with no marketing. I’m looking to see just how well this type of cover will work for it.
Now what if I used some of those ‘artsy’ skills I developed over the last three and a half years? Let us say, for the moment, that I’ve been told that my sales for Defenders of Valinthia is tanking out, and there hasn’t been a single download in months. That I would need a new cover for a re-launch. Using public domain elements and royalty free websites, I can assemble something that looks like this:
Keep in mind, this is only an example run. This is not the future cover. This design isn’t based on high photo realistic accuracy, and it focuses on the discovery of Valinthia, the solar system with a rare blue sun. The text art works, the scene works, but as always, since this came from a public domain repository, this can be duplicated.
So what if I did my own digital rendering? Like Wildscar and Amy can do? I can conjure up a unique, nobody will ever duplicate type of cover, like this one:
This cover is 100% CGI. Yes, I did it. Because of the mostly ‘Fantasy’ style cover, I went ahead and used a futuristic typeset for the title work to show there is something unique about this blending of Science Fiction and Fantasy in one novel.
While I personally see nothing wrong with either of these covers, one is under threat of a possible duplication, the other is under the scrutiny of public perception that it’s a ‘fast and cheap’ cover making process. Believe me, it’s not, but most people don’t know that.
So, what if I merely combined the elements of them both? I could come up with something like this:
This is what it looks like to have two different styles colliding on one cover. Because of the free-space change, the Graphics layout has to use the title work differently, so the novel’s title go on the bottom, with the author across the top, which is perfectly allowed, as far as title work goes.
Now I have three covers, but I can’t tell what works better than the other. Why? I’m too close to the subject. This is a novel I created, a universe I know inside and out. Would I personally pick up a novel with any of these titles if I saw them on a shelf? Sure I would. Then again, I’m twisted like that.
So I am once again, depending on my readers for input. I know what the traditional side of publishing would say… stay away from CGI and use photostock. And around and around and around we go!
So what about you, my dear reader? Would you pick the covers with the more realism, or would you go ‘layout artsy’, or would you nod with acceptance at the CGI side of things? Feel free to comment either way below.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I do answer back. ^_^