Cover Art / writing

Covers and Writing

My #indiepublishing how-to contribution over at Mad Genius Club today is covers, specifically how to judge, find, and use art suitable for an ebook cover (planning ahead for print, as well).  Although this is a topic I’ve covered a few times (heh) this year, we continue to get questions about it, so I’ve done it again.

little red-hood coverAnd every time I do this, I take a fresh look at my own covers and realize I ought to do up some of them to look better. Right now, I’m eyeballing Little Red and the Wolfman and thinking that needs to change. But so does Vulcan’s Kittens

Cedar SandersonHere’s the thing. In the mere three years since I started publishing, and stubbornly insisted on doing it all myself, I have learned so much. The difference between the covers of The God’s Wolfling and Vulcan’s Kittens illustrate that most vividly. I would never use a boxed-in look on a cover now. I will likely retain that art, but lose the black box, when I redo the cover. Which I mean to do soon, my print copies on hand are getting low and it’s time for a new order, but the cover work comes first.

wolflingAnd then there’s Dragon Noir. Writing is going well, granted it’s only two days in, but I think my goal of having it totally written and ready to send to beta readers by the end of January is possible. I know what the beginning and end are, I just need to follow the characters for the middle! I plan for this book to be about 100K words in length, or slightly longer than the first two. For one thing, the ending will be slightly more lengthy, as this is the wrap up for the entire trilogy arc, not just one book.

Will I come back to Underhill again? I think so. I’ve got a niggling thought of something involving Devon and Dorothy. My First Reader is pushing for something involving Alger, which is likely, but I don’t feel like that one will be novel-length. However, once Dragon Noir is complete, the next book is going to be something completely different, and not Fantasy. I never meant to write Fantasy, and while I’ve enjoyed it, I want to go back to my first love and create science fiction.

This next semester I’m taking a slightly lesser course load – a mere 18 credits to this semester’s 20. I really struggled with my workload this fall, between trying to work three jobs, deal with family crises, and school. I’m lucky I passed two vital classes, and I’m not happy I got C’s in those. While I know that getting straight A’s all through is probably unrealistic, I don’t feel like I’m putting out what I’m capable of. Or, if I’d wanted to maintain a 4.0, I ought to have stayed with a degree that didn’t require as much mental stretching, like psychology, or English, or History, or… anything but the heavy science. Except this is what I need to do, if I’m going to be marketable as  a person, a mere 4-year degree in any of those mentioned would get me just slightly above the level of ‘would you like fries with that.’

But reality is that creative writing and the science classes don’t mix, so I will have periods like this, where I see my sales slide inexorably downward, and know that I need to release something. I’m unwilling to slap any old thing on paper and put it out. I can maintain the blog during school, and I’m toying with putting a little paypal tip jar button at the top, like so many of my peers do. I’m just not sure that what I offer here is worth anything significant to my readers.

In the meantime, I do offer cover layout and design. I’m going to workshop the re-do of those two covers here on the blog and over at MGC in order to help out those who can’t afford to hire someone like me. I’m going to push my limits when it comes to art, until I can be my own cover artist. I know what I’m doing with the Artfully challenge looks kind of dumb right now, but I’m learning a lot, and hopefully in time I will start to apply all these things into a concerted whole that looks like the pictures in my head. The photography is a whole ‘nother ball of wax, and one that’s related to the new career I will embark on after graduation.

And I’m going to try to stop worrying so much, and enjoy my family as I travel later this month.