Monday, May 09, 2016

Got Myself Covered

So, I've talked about cover art a time or two.  Every self-publishing panel I've been to has mentioned it, and how a good cover can make your book sell (or not sell).  Big and I have discussed it ad nauseum, and I never care much about my covers, as long as they convey the feeling of my stories.

Hence this:
I understand what everybody's telling me: that a cover that's good can convince people to buy the book/story, because it enhances the text and catches the eye, and that a lousy cover can convince folks that the content behind it is probably lousy too.

But I tend to be really, really minimal, especially because I don't *really* care whether people buy them or not.  And sometimes that works, such as:

Other times, not so much:

Not sure why I love green font so much, either.

The cover that people give me the most compliments on is the one I had Dave Krumanacher do for "Birth of a Sidekick."  I asked him to do a follow-up for the sequel, but I haven't got one yet.  It's really good:
So, when it came time to do the cover for my first novel (or "novel," if you want to be mean), I thought I would give more care and effort to it than I usually do.  I guess I first started thinking about it back in July, when I took this picture:
In the book, there are three buttes just outside of town, and the tallest one seems to be where there's trouble.  So, in passing this lovely Arizona butte (or hill or big rock), I snapped the photo, and then a couple of others, thinking that I could probably stick all three together sort of like this:
I ended up losing (or saving over) the original combination version, but ultimately, the cover was going to look pretty close to this here:
And that's fine, really.  To me.

Yeah, it looks a little bit weird, and kind of shitty, but with a green font and bigger text, I would've been fine to publish it like that (still could).

But then I found out that Austin at work is an artist, and a really fine one, and asked him if he would do me a drawing of three buttes, and a bunch of skulls or bones in the bottom right corner.  I did a sketch showing exactly what I wanted, but never ended up giving it to him (as he had started right away, just based on what I told him).  Almost immediately, he sent me this pencil drawing:
I liked it, and told him to make the middle butte the tallest and most prominent.  I then went to work trying to finish up my book (and audiobook) for publication, and asked Austin to get me the finished cover by Friday (5/6).

Sure enough, on Friday, he sent me this:

He told me he knew it wasn't exactly what I had asked for, and if I wanted, he could work on it some more.  Or I could just not use it and he'd do better next time.

I quickly stuck a title on there, and ended up with:

Although it's exactly what I intended to create, even I admit that came out a bit lamer.  Is it that "Into" seems bigger than "the furnace?"  Is it the white outline on my name and the black outline on the title?  IS it the green?  I dunno, except that something was off on it, and though I had planned on publishing the book with the above as the cover, I decided to give it a day and see if I couldn't come up with something better.

Big has access to a lot more fonts than I do, and he seems to have a good eye for balance and design, so I asked him to do me one that was in a Western font and one that was in a Fantasy font (since the book's a bit of both).

Here was the first:

 And here was the second:

They both look better than mine, but he also included a couple of other takes (nine total), including one that I liked a lot that I called more of a Horror version.  I was sort of torn between using the Western one and the Horror one, but thought I'd let the kids on Facebook decide.  So, I created this image:

I told them to vote for their pick, and started on this blog post.  Now I've reached this point (in the spirit of full disclosure, I also called Big on the phone and played Plants Versus Zombies), and Option C received seventeen votes, while A and B each received two.*

One friend suggested I slide my first name over to the left, and I made a little alteration to the image, leaving this the final cover:

Guess I ought to publish it now.

Rish "Re-covered" Outfield

I won't always go this all out, though, I recognize that.  How's this for irony?

*After posting this, they continued to get votes.  It was actually an amazing turnout for a Facebook question, but I had already made my decision by that point (and the votes just confirmed the results from the middle of the night).


Seraph said...

Bloody hell - that's some cool art ! Pass on my compliments to Austin. I'll try not to be too jealous !

AspiR said...

It looks great, Rish. Like something I'd pick up and open at the bookstore.

If Austin is a friend of yours and he seemed motivated to make you a cover with very little pestering required on your part, maybe this could be a regular thing. Then you'd have no excuse but to have good covers and publish your work as soon as it's ready. Damn!