Monday, July 2, 2012

Cover Art, Graphics, and Slowly Going Blind.

Sorry for not posting on Wednesday, I was busy blinding myself.

No, I'm not kidding.

So, you know that It Was Only On Stun! will be self published. And, I gotta tell you, I didn't particularly like everything that was offered to me, in terms of cover options at the self publishing places I'm looking at --, and

So, I decided to try it myself.

I know, I know. You're thinking, "John -- or is it Declan now? -- we've seen your artwork.  Your Vatican ninjas were a bit of a joke. Why do this to yourself again?"

Well, because I'm stubborn, and because this should have been simple.

Let's start with what I showed you already.

Now, this photo on the right is what I originally had up.  There are a few problems with it.  The quality isn't that good when you look at it up close, the blood spatter on the badge isn't that good, and the "Junior" has become unneccessary.

"Junior" by the way, is because my father had his own company called "Declan Finn Associates," a little side gig for resume building and interview preparation.  Anyway, that's where the Junior came from.

Then my father said I could drop the Junior.

Did I mention that I love him dearly?

Anyway, so there was that.

So, what's the next step, you ask?  Well, there had been an option on that gave you a banner-type display for your title and author name.  It looked kind of nice, actually. Also, someone suggested that they liked one of the earlier "flair button" image that said, "Good Morning, I see the Assassins have failed."

And, so, I started to build that with the Amazon cover generator.

Unfortunately, it didn't want to work for me.  The image I had was always getting cut off from the cover layout that Amazon had. It was a pain in the ass.

So, I built that myself.  While it looks nice, can you see the problem?

It now looks like I have two titles to the book.

Oh joy.  Shoot me now.

So, once again, back to the drawing board.

I knew I had to go back to the original thoughts on the matter. I knew the assassins comment had to go. The blood covered badge seemed to offend no one, and it's part of the convention, called C-Con in the book.

So, that's good, right? Perfect?  I copied a "Hello, my name is" badge from offline, then slapped it on, morphing it a little, and presto, done.

Not quite.  You see, Amazon's cover creator requires 300 pixels per inch. I had 96 PPI.


Ahem.  Anyway.  So, back to the drawing board.

So, I had to go back to the beginning on the badge.  The image I had stolen from online hadn't been that high definition to start with, and I didn't like the blood spatter.

I made my own badge, from scratch, and tinkered with some blood spatter online. I had to adjust it later, in the image itself later on, but aside from that, it seemed to work.

After that, it was easy.  Start with red background.  Add black circle, white letters, past the badge over it, and we're done.

Then what do we do with the author name?  Simple white lettering?  Black on red?  Orange on red?  Seriously, what would make it easily distinguished from everything else? What would be bright enough to leap out and grab someone's attention if this were on a screen, or a bookshelf?

Enter Clive Cussler.  He's been an author I've read since I was a kid.  His Dirk Pitt novels were very much straightforward adventure stories, and he's been a bestselling author since, well, forever.  I remember he once mentioned how he was in advertising and insisted on four-color covers, so that it would be eye-catching.

So, I cheated.

Do you see something somewhat similar between the Flood Tide cover, and mine for It Was Only On Stun!  

I literally took the color from the title graphics, and used it to ink my own title.

And then there was the back cover, which I had to jury rig multiple times because I had to put text in with margins I couldn't see, and I had to account for a bar code I didn't have yet.

Not to mention, I hated the lower cases in the author name.

So, then it ended up like this.

And then there was the author picture.  A friend of mine told me I had a great Facebook photo, but it wasn't professional.  So, I had to fix that with freeware called Photofiltre.

So, at the end of the day, what does the full cover look like?

It looks something like this.

So, what do you all think? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Leave a comment below, and tell me what your opinion is.

We're getting close, people. Almost there.... We're so close, the next blog entry is number 300. I want to hold off until next week. I hope to have an announcement then.

What announcement? Well, the title I want is "Forget Sparta: I! AM! PUBLIIIIIIISHED!"

Let's see if Amazon can keep up with my ambition.

So, until next week, all.

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