Book covers are a scary, scary thing. Ask anyone who doesn’t make them as part of their living. Most authors I know blanch at the very idea of having to come up with cover art for their books, preferring to leave it to the professionals.
However, necessity, as they say, is a mother.
When I was asked to attend a book signing hosted by none other than Jimmy Thomas, I found myself confronted with a number of problems. What was I going to bring to sign? What’s that…I don’t HAVE anything to sign, other than a couple of print books I’ve never been able to get rid of?? What to do about cover art? I need to have all this done WHEN?
Okay, well, I had plans to put Dusk into print anyway, since I retained those rights by virtue of contract. Guess I’d better get moving. Now the money thing…
Now, listen, I’m all about faking it until you make it. On the other hand, there’s not a print book supplier out there who wants to hear about how you’re going to be huge some day. Try it once, if you don’t believe me. Be sure to let them know you don’t have any jack right now, but you’ll be glad to pay them once you break the NYT. After they get done laughing themselves sick and tell you to get the fuck out and come back when your broke ass has some money, you’ll see what I’m talking about. So scraping together the jack to be able to go on this little adventure became a priority.
Another thing I know about the publishing industry: they’re not big on licensing things for free that they had to pay for. As a result, I couldn’t use the proprietary cover art. Okay, not a big deal…until I went to look at what top-shelf, well-known cover artists charge for their work. It starts at fifty bones and quickly runs all the way up to utter madness. Granted, the results are worth it, but when the contents of your pockets consist of half a pack of cigarettes, a Certs wrapper, and some lint, might as well be on the moon for all the good it does you, never mind the turnaround time. Conclusion: That’s not going to work.
So I bit the bullet and tried it for myself.
Apparently I get a little cranky when dealing with certain programs that don’t behave the way they’re supposed to. A case in point is GIMP, which a number of people have told me is the best freeware image manipulation software out there. I actually worked with GIMP a little in a college course last year (which reminds me…more on that in a moment), but the activities were so tedious and the instructions so dry they pretty much went in one ear and out the other. Net result: I basically went into this innocent as a newborn babe and with only the vaguest idea of what the hell was going on. This, in turn, led to a look that my girlfriend apparently recognizes from previous encounters and which sent her fleeing for the safety of the 90% of the house I was not occupying at the time.
The first day’s results were…aight. (Yes, I’m well aware this is horrible grammar. No, I don’t care. There’s no better word to sum up how the first draft came out.) It wasn’t exactly horrible, but there was a lot of cleanup that needed to be done. Even so, it gave me a little boost of confidence that I could actually do this and make it look okay.
So today I got up and tended to a couple of housekeeping matters, and then started in again, this time working from a blank template. I had all the elements, having already put them all together yesterday from old pictures I had lying around on my hard drive from places I’d been. All that remained was putting them together into something semi-cohesive and that looked better than the first effort. (Not that THAT would have been hard, mind you…)
To my surprise, the second round was MUCH easier. I already had the basic visual in mind, one that would be safe for people to read on the bus without skimping on the wonderful, dirty, nasty sex I so enjoy writing. I also wanted a cover that would appeal to the sci-fi and fantasy types as much as the romance fan, no easy task when your topical matter is menage. In the interest of straddling these worlds, I kept it basic…
…and wound up surprising even myself. So, without further ado, here’s the cover for the print version of Dusk, created by none other than yours truly!
With that out of the way, all that remains are the final edits for Tides of Astaroth, which I’m expecting any second now. The interior files are already prepped except for what remains in the editing grinder, so as soon as I get the final edits done I can pop them into the file and put it through CreateSpace. It’s going to be tight on time, but this isn’t the first time I’ve overcome a harsh deadline, so I’m not overly worried about it. I feel pretty confident in saying you can expect to be able to order print copies of Dusk by June 7th, so be sure to mark your calendars! In the meantime, if anything goes sideways, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Was there a point to all this? Why yes, yes there was. The point is that sometimes you’ve got to try something new, something no one, not even YOU, give yourself a hope in hell of carrying off. When you do, you might even surprise yourself. Whether it’s cover art, that new genre you’ve wanted to tackle but didn’t know how, or whatever, the first step to doing it is to, uh, DO IT! :D
In other news: the final grades for the semester posted. I opened them, feeling more than slightly worried. I knew I’d done well, but I always worry about how everything’s going to come out in the wash. As it turns out, my worry was groundless: I pulled a 3.94 for the semester, and a 3.72 overall, up from a 3.65. This just goes to show what hard work, commitment, no social life and taking your business seriously can get you. I’m aiming for a 4.0 next semester, but if I “only” pull a 3.94 again, I’d be kind of okay with that. :D
Of course, if you’re in the Las Vegas area on June 7th or 8th, stop by the Barnes & Noble on North Rainbow Boulevard. I, Angela Aaron, Jimmy Thomas, and a number of other excellent authors will be there, signing books and hanging out! And Darkness Rising is scheduled to release on May 29th, so don’t forget to check that out when it comes available. I see I missed a scheduled live chat, due to a faulty calendar addition by ME, but I’m trying to get that rectified. I might even throw a Facebook launch party. Stay tuned for updates!
In the meantime, I’m off, y’all. It’s been a long day…but a rewarding one.
Ciao for now!
Until next time,