My Crash Course in Book Cover Design

Book Cover Sketches

Two words, guys.

Adobe. Capture.

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It is the greatest fun you’ll have with a phone app. I rarely use phone apps, but I am literally addicted to this one. And, I have no idea how people typically make book covers, but I used Capture to vectorize my sketches, and it saved me HOURS (thank you Elise!).

So, I sketched up about 6 cover ideas, got feedback from a bunch of family and friends, completely ignored the feedback and just used the design I liked best initially. Painted a couple different ideas, cut out a few different paintings of Win’s profile (my main character), the title, my name, a Vitruvian man in a clock and several different clock face sizes, then moved them around on a page to see what I like. I felt very arts-&-crafty (sitting by my cute little sewing machine that I have probably used once in my life…).

Book Cover Sketches

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Then, I realized I could digitize my sketches with Adobe Capture and manipulate them in Photoshop (being the clever, tech-savy wannabee I am). So, I found access to a Photoshop free trial, created about 5 different covers there, again ignored everyone’s conflicting opinions, and just went with my own favourite cover.

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I ended up with a gritty black sketch of Win with a clock for an eye looking down on the title. This, of course, was all after several all-nighter, self-directed Photoshop & book design crash courses.

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Then sketched up 4-5 ideas for the promotional material, sent them to my librarian sister for feedback, reworked them, sent 3 options back to the library with a little cartoon, spectacled, bun-headed version of myself serving up a delicious serving of my new book.

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Promo poster3

Author Visit Poster1

And on to World-building!

Phewee…it’s a big job! Creating a world, its geography, people, rules, traditions, customs and languages all from scratch! Fun – but takes AGES. Ended up with 20 notebook pages full of notes, caste rankings, titles of societal respect, a map of Banaan, and sketches of different races and main characters.

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All sorts of fun.

Not as much fun as sleep, at this point. But, you take what you can get, yeah? (;

 

 

LISTS: the solution to all chaos

When I got news of plans to use my book baby for my hometown’s Summer Reading Program, I got up early the following morning to start editing and realized that I was looking at an awful, Pantser 1st Draft. I was horrified I let ANYONE read it. SO many plot holes. It was really just a book skeleton with shreds of flesh, aaaand it had to be ready for a book club in 5 weeks! GAH!

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So much to do! All the things! Gah! I was in a mad dash to get everything done. And I mean mad. Like, frothing-at-the-mouth, pulling-out-the-hair, avoiding-the-world sort of mad.

So, me being me, I did what I always do when facing a Class 5 Freakout:

I made a list:

  1. Create book cover
  2. Create promotional poster for Author Visit
  3. Create Book bible
  4. Edit Book (Version 3)
  5. Research self-publishing/ beta reader options (Amazon’s Createspace?)
  6. Order 3 proofs for my unofficial proofreaders (Leland. My mum. Two brothers. Two sisters. A cousin.)
  7. Put together Author Visit Presentation (May 31, 7pm) & school visits
  8. Beef up social media (website & instagram. ugh. social media…)
  9. Proofread myself – make edits & consolidate all proofreader’s notes
  10. 4th edit
  11. Order 35 proofs & deliver to library.
  12. Follow Teen Reading Program through Facetime. Record beta feedback.
  13. Consolidate & implement feedback for final edit
  14. Research publication & make submissions
  15. Become famous author. Finally buy Wild Alaskan Salmon & stop cutting your hair yourself.

The solution to all chaos: lists. Lots of lists.

What Sharing Your First Novel Feels Like

I had a great 25th birthday. I mean, as far as birthdays go, it was top-notch. There was unicorn soda topped with cotton candy and lots of playing pretend. Escape Rooms are everything I ever wanted as a child: old Victorian ambience, brass keys, an old leather-bound journal full of blotted clues and the ramblings of an insane time-traveling inventor. And secret passageways. What more could I ask for in life?

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So really, when my sister & mum called with a  big “birthday surprise”, I was already sitting fat and happy as the Queen of Birthdays.

My sister is a librarian back in my hometown, and she was trying to choose a book for the Teen Reading Program this Summer. Aaaaand, mum suggested my book. The head librarian loved the idea and kind of took it and multiplied it into this big, sparkly, elephant of a project.

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Picture this: a community Author Visit (with yours truly) talking about the writing process, my book, the power of reading, etc. The library buying 35 (35!!!) copies of my book for staff and book club. Me, meeting with the kids throughout the summer, discussing writing, changes, edits and such.

What a wonderful, INCREDIBLE opportunity, right? How fun! How amazing! This is exactly what I wanted! People, reading a book I’d written. MY book, sitting on the shelves of a library! I am so ridiculously excited, I can barely stand it … sort of.

Because that excitement is being slightly smothered by whole lot of “I’m freaking out. Like, a lot.”

FAT-HEADED SCHMO

Who am I to give an Author Visit? I’m no author! I mean, yeah, I wrote a book. And, yeah, my mum liked it. But, that doesn’t make me an author! I don’t want to look like some big-headed schmuck:

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“Aherm. Ye-es. Look at amazing me; me and my unpublished, self-edited book. Oh ye-es. All the critics are raving about my literary genius. And by critics, I mean my mom. Therefore, you should look up to me as a great authority on the matter. Ye-es!”

So… I’m a little nervous about the whole thing.

I’m tempted to go the ‘Aw shucks’ route, you know?

“Aw, shucks, guys. Huh-huh. I dunno too much. Just, ya know, wrote a little book. But, ya know, ANYONE could write a novel…”

Ok, I’m A LOT nervous about the whole thing.

THE PUBLIC APPEARANCE OF MY RAW SOUL

Because, this book is my baby. My first-born, half-deformed baby. And, I love him dearly and cherish above the stars, but I’m hesitant to show his ugly, self-edited face to the world. Heck, showing the book to my parents and husband was terrifying.

This. This is a bit of a step up…

It’s like opening up my chest and showing off my raw soul to the one town I feel like will never see me as anything more than that one-awkward-quiet-kid.

At least, if I was published, I’d have the validation that someone other than my mom liked my soul and thought it was worthy of sharing.

At least, if my book was professionally edited, my raw and very private soul would get a working over. The rough edges smoothed out. The zits covered. The too private portions removed. You know, to make it presentable to the public: my phantom child given a mask and wig of sorts.

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BUT, in the end, I LOVE writing. Yes, 95% of me wants to feign nonchalance on the topic, like writing is just a silly little hobby. Criticism on something you don’t care much about doesn’t hurt much. Failure when your passion, your soul, is on the line is terrifying. Terrifying.

BUT. I want to be a writer – a writer who progresses to someday write a book, or article, or something that really matters to somebody.

And you have to start somewhere. Right?

So, let’s move forward. I refuse to assume any pretended airs, but I do want to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.

Here I go, cleaning up my deformed first-born for his first public-appearance…

Wish me luck…

love brit