Cover Workshop

General discussion on illustration, art, and the business of same.
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gower21
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:30 pm

That is a good argument on the other side. I see that point too. I noticed that she didn't give much on the art side except to say "these are good" and "these are bad" without much to say on what exactly makes something good. My idea on cover design is that you want to figure out what kind of book you wrote, find other books selling in that genre with the same feel and pick the top bestsellers and see what style the art/cover is in. Usually they are all very similar. It's an old psych trick to make a cover very similar to a hot top seller to get the same audience to feel familiar with your book and hopefully buy it. After Twilight hit it big there were so many books that had similar covers.

Not to say if you can do original, you should.

For Topography I like the idea to make at least the title easy to read...as far as name being bigger, I guess I'd have to do a study. I love designing research studies!!!

Speaking of studies. I just participated on one on a romance blog. They did a cover judging...which reminds me I really wanted to go check out the results of that opinion survey and see what sort of trends in covers where hot.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:00 am

Speaking of romance novels, the link below has the story of one of my favorite novel cover stories ever. It's a romance novel cover that features a heroine with THREE hands (not intentionally). The blog post by the author on the subject is a great read, too.

http://christinadodd.com/castles.html
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:20 am

Rebecca Birch wrote:Speaking of romance novels, the link below has the story of one of my favorite novel cover stories ever. It's a romance novel cover that features a heroine with THREE hands (not intentionally). The blog post by the author on the subject is a great read, too.

http://christinadodd.com/castles.html


Christina Dodd wrote:At any booksigning, I requested that the bookseller order CASTLES IN THE AIR and I used it to open conversations and sell books — to everyone. I sold that book to literary snobs, to men, to other authors.


When she said she used this mistake ruthlessly, I assumed she would be demanding author approval for her next book contracts from that publishing house...

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gower21
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:07 pm

Oh man, what I wouldn't give to have a three armed main character on the front of my book! I've read some of Dodd's contemporary stuff, but nothing historical. I like how she used the mistake to her advantage.

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Martin L. Shoemaker
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:15 pm

While reading comments on Dean's latest, I suddenly realized we can have our cake and eat it too in regards to covers; and soulmirror already showed us the way. At least on Amazon (I haven't checked other markets), we can have the thumbnail-friendly cover AND the pretty cover. As Scott pointed out (and has used to great effect on his books), a customer (including the author) can add customer-supplied images to the listing. I just realized that you could upload a pretty cover as one of these customer-provided images. You would see the thumbnail-friendly image in searches and catalog listings; but once a viewer went to the page, the pretty cover would be a click away.

Also, Amazon by default will insert your "official" cover image as the first page in your book; but you can turn that feature off, and provide your own interior cover. So you could use the pretty cover as that interior page.

I may have to play with this concept…
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:20 pm

"Customer images" are certainly a lush and powerful creative tool just sitting there waiting for any and every author to use to help market our books and/or stories! wotf007

Being IOTF obviously I'm into the visuals from the start ... but as Dean advises us in your link, Martin, great cover art is in reach for everyone in some shape or form, and if we're recognizing the value of the cover then "customer images" just extend and empower that marketing appeal!

Plus: it's not just alternative (and as you suggest) better views of the cover!

I use the pop up notes to offer more excerpts of the STORY CONTENT to potential buyers!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B006V1MPX2/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_2?ie=UTF8&index=2

How can any author resist that low-hanging fruit?!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MJNL » Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:29 pm

The only thing you have to watch out for is Amazon's TOS--I was going to upload the full version of an illustration
I did for a semi-pro antho, but then I saw that Amazon pretty much claims every possible right to the image royalty free for life. Just be aware.

I love how you used the notes, Scott. wotf008
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:39 pm

MJNL wrote:The only thing you have to watch out for is Amazon's TOS--I was going to upload the full version of an illustration
I did for a semi-pro antho, but then I saw that Amazon pretty much claims every possible right to the image royalty free for life. Just be aware.


I'll have to read those terms carefully. They might unravel my whole idea.

UPDATE: I am not a lawyer. The following is how I interpret the terms for my uses. You have to decide for yourself; and when in doubt, pay a lawyer for advice.

Here are the relevant terms:

3) License Grant for Materials. You hereby grant to Amazon and its Affiliates a worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual right and license to (a) reproduce, distribute, transmit, publicly perform and publicly display the Materials, in whole or in part, in any manner and Media, (b) modify, adapt, translate and create derivative works from the Materials, in whole or in part, in any manner and Media, and (c) sublicense the foregoing rights, in whole or in part, to any third party, with or without a fee.

...

7) Representations, Warranties and Indemnities. You represent and warrant to Amazon and its Affiliates that (a) you have the right, power, and authority necessary to enter into this Agreement, to fully perform your obligations hereunder, and to grant the licenses set forth in Paragraphs 3 and 5 above, (b) you will comply fully with all terms of this Agreement, (c) the Materials submitted to Amazon by you, and Amazon's and its Affiliates' exercise of their rights hereunder, do not and will not violate, misappropriate or infringe any intellectual property right, including but not limited to trademark rights, copyrights, moral rights and publicity rights of any third party, (d) you possess all rights necessary for the reproduction, distribution, transmission, public performance, public display, and other exploitation of the Materials by Amazon and its Affiliates as permitted hereunder, (e) the Materials are not pornographic, obscene, libelous, defamatory, tortious, or otherwise unlawful, and (f) all factual statements submitted by you are accurate and not misleading. You agree to indemnify, defend, and hold Amazon and its Affiliates harmless from all claims, liabilities, damages, and expenses (including, without limitation, reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses) arising from your breach of any representation or warranty set forth in this paragraph.


Paragraph 7 is (in essence) you indemnifying Amazon if you unwittingly violate one of the other paragraphs. In particular, if you give away rights in Paragraph 4 that you cannot legally give away, then you're on the hook but they're not.

Paragraph 4 is the sticking point. There's what I fully believe they intend it to mean, and then there's what it technically means.

What I believe they intend it to mean is simply this: they want to be able to share and transmit the customer-provided image as a way to market the book, without restriction as to where or how they share or transmit it. That's the point of the "worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual right and license to (a) reproduce, distribute, transmit, publicly perform and publicly display the Materials, in whole or in part, in any manner and Media".

But the next part technically goes a big step farther: "(b) modify, adapt, translate and create derivative works from the Materials, in whole or in part, in any manner and Media". I believe the intention is simple: they want to be able to reproduce the image without regard to storage format, and to be able to include it in thumbnail pages and so on. But that's what I believe their intent to be. The plainly stated fact is you're granting them a license to modify the image and create derivative works, and you're asserting that you have the right to grant that license. Whether they intend to do so or not is irrelevant. The relevant question is: do you have the right to grant that license?

In my case, where the image is likely to be licensed from Dreamstime, I believe the answer is an unequivocal NO. This is the relevant portion of the Dreamstime license (emphasis added):

Buying the high-resolution image (purchasing the license) does not transfer the copyright. You may not claim that the image is your own and you may not sell, license for use, or in any way distribute the image for reuse. We recommend that you credit the agency and the photographer when you use an image. By this you benefit the community at Dreamstime.com, of which you are an integral part, and help increase your success as part of the community, which, by growing contributions, gains quantity and quality.


Fortunately their license for the actual book content is not so broad. This is from the KDP terms (emphasis added):

5.5 Grant of Rights. You grant to each Amazon party, throughout the term of this Agreement, a nonexclusive, irrevocable, right and license to distribute Digital Books, directly and through third-party distributors, in all digital formats by all digital distribution means available. This right includes, without limitation, the right to: (a) reproduce and store Digital Books on one or more computer facilities, and reformat, convert and encode Digital Books; (b) display, market, transmit, distribute, sell and otherwise digitally make available all or any portion of Digital Books through Amazon Properties (as defined below), for customers and prospective customers to download, access, copy and paste, print, annotate and/or view online and offline, including on portable devices; (c) permit customers to "store" Digital Books that they have purchased from us on servers ("Virtual Storage") and to access and re-download such Digital Books from Virtual Storage from time to time both during and after the term of this Agreement; (d) display and distribute (i) your trademarks and logos in the form you provide them to us or within Digital Books (with such modifications as are necessary to optimize their viewing), and (ii) portions of Digital Books, in each case solely for the purposes of marketing, soliciting and selling Digital Books and related Amazon offerings; (e) use, reproduce, adapt, modify, and distribute, as we determine appropriate, in our sole discretion, any metadata that you provide in connection with Digital Books; and (f) transmit, reproduce and otherwise use (or cause the reformatting, transmission, reproduction, and/or other use of) Digital Books as mere technological incidents to and for the limited purpose of technically enabling the foregoing (e.g., caching to enable display). In addition, you agree that we may permit our affiliates and independent contractors, and our affiliates' independent contractors, to exercise the rights that you grant to us in this Agreement. "Amazon Properties" means any web site, application or online point of presence, on any platform, that is owned or operated by or under license by Amazon or co-branded with Amazon, and any web site, application, device or online point of presence through which any Amazon Properties or products available for sale on them are syndicated, offered, merchandised, advertised or described. You grant us the rights set forth in this Section 5.5 on a worldwide basis; however, if we make available to you a procedure for indicating that you do not have worldwide distribution rights to a Digital Book, then the territory for the sale of that Digital Book will be those territories for which you indicate, through the procedure we provide to you, that you have distribution rights.


In the highlighted section, they claim a right to modify or create derivative works from your book's metadata (i.e., descriptive notes), not the book content itself. And the cover is part of content, not metadata. So if I license a Dreamstime image for my cover, I don't have to grant any additional rights in regard to it.

Again, I am not a lawyer. This is just how I interpret it. But much as I like the idea, I won't be providing any alternate covers unless I own the full copyright on them.
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Kary English
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:44 pm

Hi, all!

Reactions, if you please. I'm particularly interested in whether this cover appeals to male readers. Too girly? Would you buy it? As for the star in the middle of her forehead, I'll be deleting that.

Also, I had to obscure the actual title for contest-related reasons.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:02 pm

Kary James wrote:Reactions, if you please. I'm particularly interested in whether this cover appeals to male readers. Too girly? Would you buy it?


I wouldn't say too girly, but maybe too "romance-y". Seeing it, I wouldn't necessarily assum SF or fantasy at all, especially without the star.

I also think the white-on-white-on-white may not be a grabber. At full size like this, it's a decent image. At thumbnail size, I'm not sure it will stand out.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby george nik. » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:30 am

I like it with the star in the forehead. I'm not sure how much I'd like it without the star.

Anyway, I don't think I'd ever consider buying or not buing a book based on its cover, so my opinion is probably not worth that much.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:33 am

Is it even really a star? They look like exaggerated snowflakes, with that one just happening to line up with her forehead.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:03 am

Overall, I like it alot. i think the "star/snowflake" on her forehead improves the vibe 100% ... but a) it is clearly somehow on a different plane (to my eye, imo) than the others, and b) it might be better if it's not so obviously exactly the same as the others. Darker? inverse? etc.

Also, the face doesn't seem to blend with the hair (again, just my eye) -- I get that effect sometimes when I try to photoshop one face into another ... though it's also typical of solarization when the shadows flatten like that.

The "white on white on white" comment is apt too. Maybe invert or darken the trees in the background? But I'm liking the silvery vibe too ...

Is the band of colour a little plain?
Some intricate scrollwork as borders or background might really jazz it up.
Maybe have a thin frame of colour or fragile scrollwork along the edges of the art?

http://www.fatquarter.org/wp-content/uploads/whb_scrollwork.jpg
http://comps.fotosearch.com/comp/LIQ/LIQ111/scrollwork-border_~vl0006b131.jpg

Just throwing out ideas for consideration ...

As a male, it's not too girly per se imo.

I guess my only real issues might be: the colour band is too plain imo. The TITLE should be bigger and bolder than the author's name imo, it's really not filling the space of the band (scrollwork might fix that) overall i like it, but it could be jazz'd up imo.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:15 am

Ok, minor modifications...

Added a tapestry background beneath the text and changed the obscured title so it more closely matches the length of the actual title, which does fill the box.

If I use this image, and I am leaning heavily toward doing so, I am going to add some deep blue to the darks in her eyes. Not quite enough to notice except subliminally, and I'll play with the stars a bit, make them pop a tad more, maybe glow a bit - still subtle. That's more pixel play than I have time for at present, but I like the suggestion re: the text banner was an easy tweak.

Grr, the image is clipped and I don't have time to fix it atm. Oh, well. Also, I checked and it does reduce well.

Thank you for the input, everyone!

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:23 pm

This is awesome Kary. I like your idea on putting some blue in her eye and I think this cover goes really great with the story. I like the addition of the scroll work behind the title and how you have an oh so subtly put a drop shadow under the words to make it pop. Also great font choice and subtle beveling.

The picture I really like, and I too also like the star...I can kinda see how it would fit the story if this is your main protag in the outline I read. I love the filter you put the picture though, giving it a hand drawn look, but it will need some color or it sort of fades a bit. I think when you add to the eyes you'll get that. Great YA feel too.



(OK trying to weave through the technical jungle to get mine up soon).

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby morshana » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:10 pm

Am I missing something...? I just see the word "image" in Kary's post. No picture. wotf021
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:21 pm

It could be your browser? We need Technical Help, someone maybe will be able to explain it or Kary can email it to you?

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby morshana » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:21 pm

gower21 wrote:It could be your browser? We need Technical Help, someone maybe will be able to explain it or Kary can email it to you?


She emailed it to me. It's odd, most of the time I see the intended image but sometimes I only see the word "Image." No idea why the links work sometimes and not others.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:51 pm

Image

Here is my mock up for a cover idea. Need to know how the placement is, what feel you get from the cover, does it feel it is missing something (Tagline?), ect. The main themes of the story is impermanence and lack of identity, what makes up the self.

Urban Fantasy with romantic elements.

That is not my pen name. I'm not sure what to put yet, so that is my best guess so far.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby WriteToLive » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:48 pm

I'm considering a few things for my story when I do decide to self-publish it. I may have to come up with a mockup for it and find out what I can do with it. Time to play around with Photoshop. But, I do have one question.

If I find a picture of a landmark, let's say Joe Louis' fist, on the internet. How would I cite that image? And do I have to get permission first? If it's too much hastle, I may go and take a picture of it myself, so then I'm the photographer and don't have to deal with it.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby morshana » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:53 pm

gower21 wrote:
Here is my mock up for a cover idea. Need to know how the placement is, what feel you get from the cover, does it feel it is missing something (Tagline?), ect. The main themes of the story is impermanence and lack of identity, what makes up the self.

Urban Fantasy with romantic elements.

That is not my pen name. I'm not sure what to put yet, so that is my best guess so far.


My first question was with the title, based on the "lack of identity" theme. The initial impression I received was "Middle East" and then the title "Identity" didn't quite fit with the image, for some reason. I suppose because "Identity" suggests knowledge of it and the picture hides identity. If this is what you intended, then you succeeded in that (at least for me). :)
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby george nik. » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:00 am

gower21 wrote:Here is my mock up for a cover idea. Need to know how the placement is, what feel you get from the cover, does it feel it is missing something (Tagline?), ect. The main themes of the story is impermanence and lack of identity, what makes up the self.

Tina, this is very nice! It's very different from most covers you see. I really like it. wotf008
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby morshana » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:04 am

I second George, of course. =) I also meant to mention that the lady's eyes really stood out (in a good way). I was just thinking about how the eyes are the windows to the soul and wondering if the focus on them is intentional? As in: "windows of the soul" = "identity."

I'm tired, so forgive me. *cringes at the time*
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Grayson Morris » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:49 am

I don't get an urban fantasy vibe at all. In fact, I don't get any kind of fantasy/SF vibe. It screams "Middle Eastern oppression of women" to me.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:26 am

WriteToLive wrote:If I find a picture of a landmark, let's say Joe Louis' fist, on the internet. How would I cite that image? And do I have to get permission first? If it's too much hastle, I may go and take a picture of it myself, so then I'm the photographer and don't have to deal with it.


Shooting your own (or commissioning someone to shoot it for you) is the safest way. Be careful to avoid any recognizable people in the image unless you have signed release forms.

Every image on the internet should be assumed copyrighted unless proven otherwise. And I mean PROVEN. So yes, you need permission to use it.

One option would be to license an image from one of the art or stock photo sites. Here are some I've found:

Dreamstime. My favorite, and thanks to Annie for pointing them out. I've found some great art there, and I've usually paid only around $10 per license. This is the only one I've actually used, so it's the only one I can vouce for. They make it easy.

DeviantArt. They're more interested in selling merchandise than licensing art. They do give you a way to contact the artist for licensing, but I found at least one artist to be non-responsive.

Acclaim Images

Public Domain Photos

stock-xchng

Every Stock Photo

Public Domain Pictures

Be wary. "Anything free is worth what you pay for it." (Robert A. Heinlein) "If you're lucky." (Martin L. Shoemaker) A lot of free image sites -- including possibly some of these, since I haven't checked them out too closely -- are come ons for more expensive services. Some I suspect are outright scams. You can find good stuff, but keep your eyes open and your guard up.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:28 am

Tina,

I echo the middle eastern vibe. Also, on first glance, it feels a little unbalanced horizontally. I'm not sure that's bad, but it just seemed odd how the eyes were off center in the frame.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:40 am

Grayson Morris wrote:I don't get an urban fantasy vibe at all. In fact, I don't get any kind of fantasy/SF vibe. It screams "Middle Eastern oppression of women" to me.


Yes, this. Also, I think perhaps that you will need a higher resolution. Though I do like her eyes.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MontyApollo » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:04 am

Grayson Morris wrote:I don't get an urban fantasy vibe at all. In fact, I don't get any kind of fantasy/SF vibe. It screams "Middle Eastern oppression of women" to me.


Me too.

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gower21
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:32 pm

Thank you everyone for the feedback!

The eyes are off center, I think because of the image and her hand throw it off (still brain storming ideas on that, wondering if the tagline or other element can throw the balance back over). The picture is very low resolution because I haven't bought the image yet--I have about five pictures that might work, but that one gave off the best vibe...apparently a middle eastern vibe. If I do go with this design then I'll have to except that it does have that problem. Kary said "Blair Witch Project" when she saw it...

(Thanks for those who complemented the eyes. The original photo didn't highlight this so I had to play with the coloring and warm the picture up a bit to get them that green)

Well, You've all given me points to think about. Thank you again!

ETA:

WriteToLive: As far as sights to get images, Martin gave a good overview. If you want to know how to make a cover I suggest looking at PowerPoint. You have to change the slide from Landscape to a Horizontal View. Go to File then Page Setup: it is on Landscape by default you just click on the horizontal view to get it to the dimensions of a book). Now you can bring in a photo, add text, fill in the background with a color, ect. If you need help with any of those just post a question and someone will be able to help you figure it out. PowerPoint is easy, you can use it for epublications, but for actual print (if you were looking for a print on demand thing, like create a space) you might not be able to use your powerpoint cover (the resolution never transfers well and sometimes comes off pixelated or blurry and unprofessional looking). If you want a cover that will convert well to print you'll probably need to recreate your cover in Fireworks or photoshop, or Gimp or some other professional type program.

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Patrick S. McGinnity
Posts: 250
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:49 pm
Location: Mt. Pleasant/Beaver Island, Michigan, USA
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Patrick S. McGinnity » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:28 pm

Hello all, I've enjoyed reading the thread, and am considering trying a story as e-book whatzit (no idea how any of it works yet). It is one of my favorites, which I've been trying to sell as a reprint but without luck so far. So I thought I might offer it in digital form, possibly paired with another "bonus" reprint I can't think of a cover for.

Anyway, as I got to thinking about how I would do it, a cover image came to mind. Now I know that the guidelines said only work we have a license to use, but since this is only a very early mock-up, I hope it won't be a problem that I've borrowed a figure from Edward Gorey. All of it will be original artwork in the final version, but I wanted to see how the elements and mood worked. What I'd most like to know, however, is if my concept is just plain dumb.

Image

Yes, it lacks color, and that is part of my concept. It is a story about winter, and the narrative voice is fairly cold and heartless too, so I thought that a really low key cover would be appropriate. In addition, I was hoping that in a world of very bright and beautiful covers, something like this might actually stand out a bit. I would be thinking of a similar thing for the back, maybe just a faded version of the front, with a blurb or two and whatever else goes back there. So please feel free to lay into it, and please remember, I am well aware that I can't steal artwork and call it mine, and I have no intention of doing so. Thanks!
Patrick S. McGinnity
Mt. Pleasant/Beaver Island, Michigan

R x 3
Q2 2012 - HM
Look for "The Dubious Apotheosis of Baskin Gough" in the ARCANE II Anthology.


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