With my recent novella, TATTOO, sitting comfortably in first draft form I’m taking a short break from it before I dive back in with fresh eyes and new ideas.
As well as returning to my short stories for UNCANNY TALES I thought it would be a good idea to use this time and start working on the cover for TATTOO.
WHAT THE WEB SAYS
I’ve kept my eye on cover design for the last couple of months, reading articles and checking out different sites that can make it easier to do. One common theme I’ve spotted is that a lot of people say that you shouldn’t do it yourself, that the cover will draw in the potential reader and needs to look as good as any non-indie book.
To me that makes perfect sense. You want your cover to look amazing. Unfortunately I have one very tiny problem with that; money.
There a lot of sites you can go to for great cover designs (see foot notes) and not all of them will need you to sell your car to pay something good. But for me, right at this moment in life, even the smallest of costs is outside my price range.
So I feel that, despite the advice given by experts, I’m left with no choice but to create my own books covers until I can afford to seek third party assistance.
Now, I’m no pleb when it comes to design. I studied Art and Graphic Art at college and I’m not planning on just chucking images at a page and seeing what sticks.
A couple of months ago I used Microsoft PowerPoint and created a couple of covers for my UNCANNY TALES short stories as a sort of practice. I wanted to know what I was capable of producing for free using only computer software I already owned. I feel these went well (you can see the ones for IMPRISONED and CODOLENCE in the top right of this blog page). I think they turned out better than I expected.
It was particularly challenging with CONDOLENCE as I was struggling to find any free stock images on the net for zombies. Instead of giving up though, I turned to ‘zombifying’ an existing image of myself (yes, that’s me on the cover). And why the hell not?
IDEAS AND RESEARCH
So what have I got planned for TATTOO? Well, first off it’s going to be a series of novellas. I don’t know how many but I do know that there’s more to reveal about the world Julie has now found herself in after TATTOO: THE SYMBOL FOR STRENGTH.
Because there will be several books I really want a continuation in the designs across all the books. There are two book series that I’m drawing inspiration from when designing my covers; Garth Nix’s ‘The Old Kingdom’ trilogy and Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy.
I’ve been doodling a lot while writing my novella and something I kept going back to was the designs for the tattoos and the old language it represented. Remembering that I would struggle to draw people or get decent photos of characters to use, I thought about these two book series and how well their covers worked, not just individually but across a series.
I love the all black covers with the striking design in the centre of Suzanne’s books. The three images are individual but clearly linked and the fonts match the colour scheme.
This is similar to Garth’s books but they have a slightly more detailed background image.
My tattoo designs are a little closer in style to the images from ‘The Old Kingdom’ books but will include the more simple overall cover design from the ‘Hunger Games’.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
While I may go back to PowerPoint for the final version as I found it incredibly easy to use (this might not apply to everyone – I’ve spent a lot of time using Microsoft Office programs for work), I’m currently using a website called Canva.
It’s a very, very simple design tool that can be used for a variety of purposes, one of those being Kindle book cover design. They have an abundance of free images and fonts you can click and drag and it also allows you to upload your own images.
Above are just rough ideas I’ve been working at and the tattoo designs themselves are not finished and hence, not included. But you can see what I’m aiming for. The book 2 design was simply copied from the book 1 design with the title being amended from ‘Strength’ to ‘Speed’ and key colours changed from blue to red.
Once the tattoo designs are ready they will sit nicely in the centre. I may still tweak things like the font and the colours but it’s not far off what I had in mind when I started.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
So will this hinder me because it was knocked up for free by a non-professional? Maybe. But like I said near the beginning of this post, at the present I don’t have much choice. I would love to get to a place where I could hire a skilled artist and it not empty my bank account or devour any profit from a previous book.
For now though I will do my best to make good looking covers that make you want to read what I’ve written. Fingers crossed I guess.
See you in seven.