The Start Point of a Book Cover

I started this one the other day, went “Meh,” and tossed it.  So I’m trying to wander into it with a different perspective, courtesy of The Daily Post Prompt of Leftover Sandwich.  I’m going indie next year, with the 25th Anniversary of Desert Storm (no, that isn’t a coincidence.  There will be Desert Storm writing involved.  But that was a given, right?).

One part of that is creating the book covers.  I’ve done graphics in a past job, so I’m going to do the covers myself.  It’s on the cheap, so the program will probably be Gimp, though I may get a version of PhotoShop that’s for the home user.  I had that program previously, but when I switched computers, it didn’t work with the new operating system.  It doesn’t have everything that PhotoShop has, but it has the things I need for covers.

I’d frequently message boards for years, and covers were always a topic that came up.  Writers wanted control, or at least a say, in what went into their New York publishing house covers.  That’s not always a good thing to start with.  Some people don’t have a good sense of graphics, and in fact, are the opposite — they will gravitate straight to the worst of the bunch.  I remember seeing an early indie writer.  She’d done a thriller, but if you looked at the cover, you wouldn’t know it.  A pretty snowy scene.

It’s not as simple as slapping any image on the cover.  It’s got to say something about the genre, and every genre has different requirements for what that means.  It’s also got to look like what’s coming out from New York.  So I can say that I’d like to do a scene from the story, but if that’s not what readers expect, they’ll pass it by.  I like thrillers, but I sure wasn’t drawn into the book with the peaceful snowy scene that suggested insprirational story, not exciting thriller.

My first cover will be for a science fiction short story called New Robot Smell.  I have many different short stories and a contemporary fantasy novel I just finished; I have no idea why I gravitated to that particular story to build a cover, but I’m following where the creativity goes.

I’m thinking technology theme for the cover, since it does involve robots of a military flavor.  Originally when I wrote the story, I was envisioning a cover with a half woman soldier, half robot (by the way, do you know how hard that would be?  Most of the graphics involving women soldiers are not representative of women in the military).  So one of the expectations I had to set aside was looking for graphics to fit an image I had in mind, because I was going to spend a long time looking and probably not find it.  At least not unless people were reading my mind!

The first step, the start point, is just searching through the images see what was there.  Illustrations, rather than photos.  I’m also thinking that I will merge two images.  That’s going to give me a lot more flexibility  in building the cover because it gives me more opportunities.

The first requirement is that the image has to shrink down to a thumbnail and still be clear what it is.  I’ve seen some covers where I couldn’t tell what it was in thumbnail.  That means simple images with a lot of contrast.  So maybe a primary image with the theme and a background.  We shall see as I continue my search.