Monday, October 13, 2014

THAT'S MY COVER AND i'M STICKING TO IT

Okay, let’s talk about covers today. The cover of your book is the first thing that is seen by the prospective reader, so it should be noticeable and say something about the book.  For my cover of Relevance I wanted a man with sadness on his face and I wanted to show the city wherein the book was set – in this case Chicago.
The first thing I did was go in search of sites that offered stock photos. I found quite a few, but my favorite, so far, is Dreamstime.com. They have thousands and thousands of stock photos. So my quest began first by searching crying man. Because I have a picture in my mind of my lead character Alessio Magarelli I was looking for someone with amazing, expressive eyes. Alessio’s eyes are mentioned several times by his costars as having sadness about them. So finding a model with the right eyes was quite a challenge. Finally after going through hundreds of photos, I found them. Perfect. A man with his hands over the lower part of his face (nose on down) focusing on his large, dark, teary eyes. Beyond perfect. These were Alessio’s eyes.
After purchasing the rights to that photo for $4, I went in search of the skyline and found a terrific one that included the Willis Tower (formerly known as The Sears Tower). Another $4.
Now to put them together. First I tried having Alessio in a box to the upper left of the city scape. Both pictures were in color. That didn’t do it. I moved Alessio all over that cover trying to find the right combination. Then it hit me, make Al bigger and lay the city scape over him.
Here’s where I sing the praises of Photoshop and its layering (insert choir of angels).
If you’re not familiar with Photoshop, I can’t suggest it enough. It’s one of the most user friendly art programs out there. First I created the base layer which was Alessio. Then I overlaid the next layer, the city. I was able to enlarge the city to focus on the Sears Tower (which – in this story – serves as the straw that broke my Italian camel’s back). Next I erased around the buildings, revealing Alessio. I’d like to point out that I survived the insane intricacy of erasing around those damned antennas on the top of the tower. However I did question the legitimacy of the builder’s birth several times. Still there was something wrong. It was the color.  I turned the image black and white and, BAM, there it was.  Sometimes black and white just sets the perfect mood.
Once my cover art was designed, I married the layers. Next was the title layer – RELEVANCE.  I wanted to throw another hint out to the readers with that, as well. So I chose to add one color to my cover. Red.  Not the whole title, though. Just three letters. The ELE in RELEVANCE. And yes, that was not a happy accident. I know what ELE stands for. For those of you who don’t, it stands for Extinction Level Event. It was striking against the black and white. I feel it was a good choice.
The next and final layer was the byline.
Long story short, if you’re doing your own cover, take your time. Really hunt for the right images. Make careful decisions regarding color or black and white. Your cover is what makes them pick up the book; give it the time it deserves.
Relevance cost me a total of $8 to produce. I was fortunate that I have the training and background that made cover design easy. And that my editors on book one were quite happy to do so for a copy of the book and credit on the inner title page.
Epiphany’s cover was a bit more expensive as I paid a young artist to create it. I told him what I wanted – a black background with blood oozing down from the top. He surprised me by having the blood dripping down to leave the black forming the silhouette of the John Hancock building. Brilliant! I paid him $50. And once again my editor only wanted a copy of the book and of course, credit for her work.
Fathom’s cover will be a little more involved. It will have the underwater ruin of the Field Museum of Natural History with divers silhouetted against it and a large, red, pear-shaped diamond to set off the title. Not sure who will be doing that one. It’s beyond my expertise.  My plans for that one is to be done in a tealish green blue to depict the underwater scene, with the striking red gem placed near the title.
Add to that my concern over the cover for Inherit the Moon. I have no idea who’s going to do that one, and I’m thinking it’s probably going to be me. Arrrrgh.
That said, rewrites on Inherit the Moon are coming along very nicely in spite of the fact I tried to cut my right index finger off. Note to myself, when slicing cheese, cut downward not sideways. Still, I lived to write another day.
As soon as I get done with ITM it’ll be on to Fathom (book 3 in The Magarelli Series).