Saturday, February 12, 2011

An Ostentatious Display

The topic is eBook Covers. Two writers of my e-quaintance released short story collections recently: Annie Bellet's The Spacer's Blade & Other Stories and Jeff Ambrose's Shattered Wonders, and the covers are pretty slick. Check 'em out, those are the links to Amazon. Anyways, that got me to thinking about my cover art strategy and whether it needs to be changed. Short-term answer: No (but keep reading).

I'm a solid INTJ personality, so I never judge a book by the cover and I'm not really suited to produce spin, but I demand that what spin I do notice and produce be well-crafted. From this, I can derive two basic principles. First, book covers are advertisement, and as such should be lavished with all the attention advertisement requires. Second, I'm trying to become an efficient  writer, which means there are some things to take into consideration.

I'm not a graphic artist, nor can I draw beyond stick figures. I am, however, a good writer because I've focused almost entirely on words. So I'm faced with the choice: Do I spend the time and practice I'd need to spend to become a semi-pro cover artist, or do I stick with my pro specialty-of-practice and find a pro cover artist when the time is ripe?

I run the numbers, and they tell me it would take me a solid working day to make a semi-pro cover with my rudimentary skills just by muddling through, whereas I've actually watched a pro make a pro cover in less than an hour (from a solid design proposal), and it's better than anything I could make. Because she's a pro. Likewise, I can write a great story in five hours, whereas the pro cover artist would probably take a while to finish a good story just muddling through. Because she hasn't put in the writing practice, and I haven't put in the art practice, neither of us are efficient moonlighters, but both of us together can churn out quality in our respective areas of expertise.

What does that mean in the here and now? Three things + exciting future thing:

(1) I'll continue to make my simple covers for short stories, at one cover every 15 minutes (not counting wandering around time to get the pictures) until I have 100 buck e-chaps.
(2) I'll collect these stories into 5-packs @ $2.99, using a "[Feature Story]...and other stories" format and using the feature story title. That's 20 5-packs. This will allow me to test out how much covers matter to sales. (Hypothesis: I'm sure it'll be important, but not excessively so for the <$2.99 market.)
(3) THEN I'll collect these stories into 10-packs @ $4.99, using a "[Feature Story] and Other Stories" format . That's 10 10-packs. I'll come up with a great cover art proposal for each feature story and get a pro cover artist to art all 10 covers up. Those 10-packs books would then be my "feature" items, the head of the octopus, with the rest of the books the tentacles that draw bargain-hunters in from all corners of the Internet.
(Future!) Once I see how sales are going, I'll start to figure out POD. As with cover artists so it is with layout designers, so I'll use the cover guy for the print cover art and a layout guy for the print layout, and release these 10-packs as anthologies. What I'd really like to see, and I'll know how crazy this is once I get a more firm grasp of the budget, is some interior B&W art for the first page of each of the stories in the collection, like in classic magazines. Then it'd look pretty awesome, the same as (or better than) any anthology one'd find in the bookstore @ $14.99

And once I figure out how to do boxed sets, the world is my goddamn oyster.


Run, run from the glitzy future! FOR IT IS NOW.

Wait, is that ermine?

Story "Title"
- - - -
Reading - ?



  1. Sounds like a good plan. You've got a point about covers. I keep thinking about "judging a book by its cover" as if I do, but then, a lot of the books I read just have the dumbest covers. But then, I trust the author already, for the most part, if I'm buying it; and if it's from the library, I'm not out any cash.

    My hypothesizing either has insufficient data or I'm just too lazy to revaluate my opinions.

  2. It's the insufficient data one, for covers specifically and for the whole "Should No-Backlist Writer Do ePub?" thing. I just got tired of reading about it and decided to write at it for myself.

    I write fast enough that I can keep the Churn satisfied while doing this at the same time, so I see no way it can really hurt me as a writer. I have a good deal more than a mere hundred stories in me, so if it turns out this is all a load of hooey? I've brushed up on the ole' GIMP skillz.

  3. Just got my computer back, so I'm able to comment.

    First, thanks for the shout out for SHATTERED WONDERS. Much appreciated!

    Second, I approach ebooks covers as I do writing -- I just try to learn something new with each cover. Sometimes that means I make something really cool -- like SHATTERED WONDERS, which was my goal -- but most of the time I'm trying to focus on one aspect of cover art.

    My only advice to anyone is to try different things with each cover.

  4. That's the way I look at it. I can already see my covers getting better, and I'm making a point of trying a new tool each time I make one. I'm training my layout mind, which can't hurt when I describe a desired cover to a real artist.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...