May 5th, 2012 • Posted by Mary Rosenblum • Permalink
My friend and former student, Dale Ivan Smith, showed me the cover he was working on for his new 99 cent short story, Persisting. Weíd been talking about how those short stories that donít sell to the top drawer markets such as Asimovís (itís an SF story) are better as a 99 cent story to promote your larger work, so when Persisting didnít get Sheila Williams' nod at Asimovís, he converted it to ebook and up it went. (And if you like SF, buy it. Dale is an excellent writer and itís a cool story!)
I digress. Back to the cover. Iíve seen far too many 99 cent short stories with a generic two color cover that looks like something your eighth grade English teacher handed out. You knew you were gonna hate the story before you even cracked the cover. Covers DO sell books, even ebooks. And they can discourage readers. If you have to go hire someone to make a nice one for youÖprepare for sticker shock! You can find free templates and upload a picture, customize your name and title but ya know what? They look like free templates and youíll start noticing on amazon.com just how many people used the same templateÖ
But you donít have an art degree, do you? Or a fancy graphics program. Neither do I. Take a look at the cover I did for my client, Michael Brigattiís great suspense novel, Fire Thieves. Heís actually going to take this to the agents, it suits the NY market, but weíre going to put the cover on his website so readers can click through to the promotional page about the novel as he pitches it to agents.Eventually itíll be replaced by the published cover and a buy link on the site, but meanwhile, this is more cool and more Ďbook likeí than a text link to ĎFire Thieves work in progressí.
Itís fun to play with covers. Do you know what this cover required? It required a picture Michael sent me (yes, heís a retired firefighter and thatís one of the fires he worked, pretty awesome eh?) And it required some free and very easy to use software that is a LOT like Adobe Photoshop but much more intuitive to use. And free, remember? A very nice price. Try Gimp or Paint.net. I used Gimp for Fire Thieves and Dale used Paint.Net for Persisting. He bought those images of the starscape and the head from one of the photo purchase sites, istock or dreamstime, or one of those. They usually cost a couple of bucks. Then he superimposed the head on the stars, added the text and voila! His friend played with the software and added that bright highlight that makes the head look three dimensional. I didnít do anything to the fire photo.
This is a fun, creative break from working on that draft. Download Gimp or Paint.Net and play.
Start with a picture. Crop it so that Itís the shape of a cover. Play with the effects, overlay other images, add text, goof around. Donít like it? Delete it. You have the original images so you can start over as many times as you want. Covers DO matter and youíre making a nice hourly wage playing with images and software to create that perfect cover youíd otherwise spend a lot of money on. Put it up on your site as a link to that work-in-progress page. More folk are going to click on a cool cover than that text link. Honest! Put up two or three and ask your fans to vote for their favorite. Youíll learn something.
Itís writing time, youíre still working on your book or story project, and itís a fun break when the words on the screen slow down. It can also be a great source of motivation to get that book or story finished so you can see that gorgeous cover up on Amazon.com or in the Nook store!