Day 8 – Cover Art for The Hunger

Today is one of those days I want to call a mulligan and wait for tomorrow. A lot of stuff came up that kept me from doing all the writing I had planned. Fortunately for me, I just blogged about not having excuses. I don’t want to be that guy, so I had to slog through at least a thousand words. Mission accomplished.

Beyond that, I’ve started the process of getting cover art for Decayed. Because I’m now five books into the series, plus an omnibus edition, I’m handling the creation of these covers a bit differently than I normally do.

When I have a new book coming, I give my cover artist (the incredible Rene Folsom) a rough idea of what I’m looking for. She does the rest.

Cover art is something I don’t think most indie authors have a handle on.

First of all, don’t make your own covers. Terrible idea. I’m sure some of you will bring up the two authors you know who successfully do it. That’s fine. There are exceptions to every rule. Just know that you probably aren’t that exception. Save some money and hire an artist. Your cover is your first form of advertising, so spend some money on it. You’ll be better off.

When a cover artist flaked out on me at the last second a few years ago, I had to come up with my own for The Gate. I used the Papyrus font for the cover. Might as well have thrown Comic Sans on there. I had no idea that was a big faux pas.

My attempt:

Rene’s 30 second fix of my crap:

Even though she didn’t change much of the image, my sales jumped. It makes a big difference.

Learn from my dumbassery.

Once you find a good cover artist, don’t hit them with a bunch of weird requests. Every brick in the house on your cover doesn’t need to have a special symbolism relating to your story. The point of the cover is to sell the book. Everything else is secondary.

That’s assuming sales are your goal. If you want a cool piece of art for your bookshelf, then have it.

But if the goal is to sell books…

Remember, most of your sales, at least as indie author, come from people looking at a thumbnail of your cover. They can’t see the special braids in the secondary character’s hair in the background, behind the symbolic house. You want to catch the reader’s eye, then hook them with your description. Keep the thumbnail in mind when working over ideas.

Anyway, for The Hunger series, we have some pretty obvious branding happening. One of the main characters, Cass, adorns all the covers. Why? Because hot models sell books. That’s it. Were you looking for something deeper from me? Have you read my work?

The problem with using the same model for all your covers is the limited amount of stock art to work with. We’re running out of relevant images of the model to use. And we still have at least three more covers to come up with.

So I spent quite a bit of time today looking at photos to send to Rene so she can manipulate them into something awesome. I think I’ve got what we need. She’ll work her magic and we’ll be good to go.

As for the branding, that’s something I strive for across each series, but also throughout my entire body of work. My name appears the same on each book. I try to use large lettering and bright colors that pop, even when the image is small. It seems to work.

Today, I wrote 1002 words (roughly 4-5 pages) in Decayed (The Hunger #5), bringing the total to 69908 (around 300 pages).

During my first week of blogging, I put down 13553 words (in the neighborhood of 60 pages).

See ya tomorrow.