The Insecure Writer's Support Group was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh. February's co-hosts are Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy, and Joylene Butler. Please visit the other participants!
Cover art has been an on-going insecurity I've had, but I must admit my anxiety over finding cover art for The Fate Challenges series has increased over the past month.
For Reborn, I hired an artist, Laura Sava, to illustrate the cover. I enjoyed working with Laura, but her business has grown and she's no longer taking commissions for cover art. Plus, I must admit I can't afford illustrated cover art for four more books (five, if I count a new cover for Reborn).
So I'm stuck with digital art, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Digital artists are like magicians. Taking a picture here, another picture there, and creating something altogether new. But The Fate Challenges is epic fantasy, geared toward young adults, and set in an alternate world similar to ancient Rome. Yssa wears some specific dresses too, which would be near impossible to find without a seamstress/fashion designer to create them. I can't afford photo shoots either. So I'm left with either symbols or finding a model, who is more symbolic of the Phoenix Prophetess.
What if what I imagine the covers to be doesn't exist? That's my biggest concern I'm addressing this month as I plan to scour photo sites to see what's out there. Wish me luck!
For epic fantasy, do you prefer cover art with symbolic images or ones with a person/people on it?
What's your insecurity this month?
February's question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader? When I first started writing, I noticed I was often pulled from the story because of the simplest things. It's the whole peek behind the curtain thing, I suppose. You see what it takes to make a story, so when you read a story, you see more than the casual reader would. Through the years, I've found it to happen less and less as I've realized a lot of those nitpick things don't really matter as far as story goes. If I'm not enjoying the story, then I stop reading, which isn't something I would have done before I became a writer.
One thing that will still throw me out of a story, though, is bad formatting. With all the information out there on how to format an ebook as well as software (Jutoh, Vellum, Scrivener, etc.) to help a person as well as people who format books for a living, there's really no reason for badly formatted ebooks.
I did accomplish my January goals, although I'm two chapters behind where I'd hoped to be in A Soul to Keep.
The Fate Challenges edits/read-through/notes are going well. Determined, a bonus woodwose section set between chapters 24 and 25 in Reborn, is with my second critique partner. I'm on Part III in Reborn for edits/read-through/notes, and I should tackle Marked, a novella told from Liam's POV and set between the last chapter of Reborn and the first two chapters of Forged, this month. At the rate I'm going, I'm looking at publishing the second edition of Reborn as well as Determined (on my website only) and Marked in April. Of course, those plans depend on obtaining a cover artist in March. I also plan, for now, to publish only ebooks. Print books are harder to change after publication and the cover art usually costs more. I do plan for Reborn, Forged, and Destined to be in print, but I'll likely not publish the print versions until after Destined is published.
My February goals include:
- Continue writing A Soul to Keep. I'd love to finish this novel by the end of this month.
- Continue editing/notes of The Fate Challenges series. I will finish Reborn this month and likely get through another edit of Marked.
- Peruse photo sites for potential cover art for The Fate Challenges.
- Edit "The Folding Point," a short story which will be published in Untethered Realms' Spirits in the Water anthology.
- Continue helping my critique partner with her nine-part novella series.
What are your goals for February?
2017 Stats: 27,341 words written and 120,865 words edited
Deep Current by Christine Rains
Unreal Encounters by Milo James Fowler
Deep Current by Christine Rains
Saskia Dorn longs for a good fight to take her mind off her grief and not having found a totem token yet, but what she had in mind didn't have anything to do with a sea hag asking for the impossible in Christine Rains' Deep Current. This novella is the sixth book in the amazing Totem series. Saskia still brings the snark, but the story delves deeper into who Saskia is and what she fears. While the fast-paced action keeps the story moving, I found the emotional side of the story to be where the real meat is. I love how Rains introduces readers to Inuit mythology, particularly the Salmon People. Deep Current by Christine Rains sets up what will likely be a hard and emotional fight for the totem tokens in the next three Totem books. I highly recommend this series!
Unreal Encounters by Milo James Fowler
Unreal Encounters by Milo James Fowler has packed in a lot of great science fiction, horror, and the occasional humor in these forty short stories. This collection is perfect to read while on a lunch break or while exercising on a treadmill or elliptical. I enjoyed most of the stories, although there were at least two where I was a bit confused character-wise who was telling the story. Some of my favorite stories involved the Grey men. They had a very X-Files feel to them. The story with the man trapped in the hotel room also has stuck with me as well as the child cannibal. If you combined The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits with a dash of The X-Files, then you'll have Milo James Fowler's Unreal Encounters.
#SPECFIC BOOKS RELEASING IN FEBRUARY
The Remnant by William Michael Davidson
Gilded Cage by Vic James
Deep Current by Christine Rains
The Blue Moon Narthex by N.J. Donner
Something like Voodoo by Rebecca Hamilton
A Sigil in the Ash by Clara Coulson
Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron
Guardian of Secrets by Brenda Drake
With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Wolf Moon by Lisa Kessler
His Fake Alien Fiancée by Patricia Eimer
The Black Blade by Jeff Chapman
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
It doesn't have to have a person in it, but I do prefer detailed scenes that could come from the story. Maybe you can find a way to do that without the character. Or showing her dress?
Good luck with your search of the photo sites! I hope you find just the right things for your series. I like Alex's idea about the dress!
Good luck on the cover search. I understand your concern because your cover is important, especially to invite new readers. I don't have a rule that a person has to be on the cover.
And yes, I stop reading if I don't enjoy a book too.
I don't think a person is necessary. I like something that shows the world I'm about to enter whether that be a person or place or landscape doesn't matter.
Hi Cherie, your writing goals always make me feel like I am not writing much :(
Like you, nowadays if don't enjoy the story,then I stop reading,cause there are so many other books I need to read and I also don't have the patience to wade through a story that is not appealing to me on any level.
That's right - no reason for poorly formatted books.
Using digital art is challenging and for numerous reasons. (Which is why most of our covers are original art.) Christine Rains and Lexa Cain know how to find good digital art though.
Best of luck finding the digital images you'd like! Looks like you've gotten some great advice in the comments above.
Bad formatting will definitely throw me out of a story, too. My thoughts on the subject is if I can figure out how to do it properly, then they should be able to do it too.
I don't mind epic fantasy covers that feature symbolic images. There have been some really lovely covers that don't feature people. Leah Bardugo (both of her series), Marie Lu (the Legend series), Kristin Cashore (the Graceling series), Stephen Lawhead (Song of Albion series), and even George R.R. Martin have all had really gorgeous covers featuring symbolic images. (I'm sure there are others, too, but those are ones I could think of off the top of my head.)
It can most definitely work.
Best of luck with your February goals!
I think having a protagonist on a cover helps the reader identify more with the book. Covers that are all symbols can be somewhat generic and/or put distance between the reader and the character(s). But that's a generalization, of course. I look at the covers of Ben Aaronovitch's books, or Tana French's, or Kate Morton's, and they are all images and no people. So the genre probably matters, too.
Have you considered silhouettes for the human element overlayed by a symbol? Honestly, if you get some of that pretty border stuff going that's come into fashion, you don't need much for the main image of your cover.
Good luck figuring out the cover! I don't think it has to have a person, or I like Alex's idea--maybe it doesn't have to show the whole body and so the dress wouldn't be seen.
I'd generally prefer symbolic images to photos of people. Everyone uses stock model pictures these days and they all begin to blend together after a while, especially when you see the same model on books by different authors.
One of things being a reader has taught me is that most readers don't care nearly as much about the rules of writing as editors do, so I count that as a valuable piece of information.
The thing I've learned when hiring a cover artist is I have to make some concessions. The end result is usually something that is 95% of what I imagined.
Best of luck figuring out the cover art for your Fate Challenges series! I've always found that aspect of publishing difficult, too. (Even though I don't have to worry about hiring someone, or browsing photo sites, for the comics I'll be publishing, figuring out something engaging and marketable to draw is hard.) Hope you're ultimately able to come up with something that pleases you, even if they don't perfectly match what you currently envision!
Hi Cherie. Yes hiring an illustrator would be exorbitant for that many books. Good luck with that. Yes who can understand bad formatting these days. No excuse!
The best cover art, in my opinion, tells the potential reader about the story inside without them knowing a thing about it first. I hope that made sense. :-)
Anna from elements of emaginette
Sometimes I prefer symbolic, especially if the people don't match the vision in my head.
I like symbolic or least I'm drawn to those more often. Great post.
Happy IWSG Day!
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit
When it comes to any book - but especially fantasy - I prefer covers that depict something about the story, not just a portrait or silhouette of the MC. I understand about the lack of finances to hire a specific artist, but so many authors are using stock photos that all the covers are looking the same.
Good luck with your photo search.
Unreal Encounters looks like my kind of book. Be great to listen to on Kindle with my long drives.
Thank you for the awesome review! :) And yes, covers are hard. Oh to be able to have an artist like Laura do all of them. She is so talented. I do prefer people on covers, but the people do have to represent the characters very well. I've seen covers that have people that are wearing something or have nothing in common with the protagonists. You're doing awesome with your goals. Me... well, good thing I didn't make any deadlines for these last three Totem books! =P
I like all kinds of covers and am not partial to any one type for fantasy. I hope you find what you are looking for and have an epiphany about the covers. :) Good luck!
Awesome that you are doing so well with your goals! I made my deadline and plan to start working on the next book in the series this month. I have some sketches I want to do from the last book first. :)
Congrats on achieving your goals Cherie. Good for you!! I'm sure you'll find the perfect solution to your cover art. You always do - a woman of many talents and resource. Take care and have a great week!!!
Crystal's suggestion of using silhouettes is an excellent idea. Personally, I'm not keen on symbolic imagery on covers, but it does work well for fantasy. A lot to think about!
Good luck with your cover search! I guess I prefer people on the covers for your type of genre. Covers are something I don't have to worry about. The illustrator for the picture books I write takes care of that.
This is such a great topic, Cherie. Book covers are a tough thing indeed. Thank you for sharing your experience with it and I'm wishing you lots of luck. All of yours have been great so far, so I'm sure future ones will be too. :)
I have struggled with cover art decisions, too.
My niece, who created the covers for my Champion Trilogy, has continued to take art classes, and I keep enjoying her art work - she created the new banner for my blog in less than a hour and considered making it more complex, but I like things simple.
I've also used various free media and then tweaked it on my own to create cover art - but it's time consuming and I don't know that I'm all that talented. That cover art is the kind that's on my writing books and Seedling - my short story.
Look at the covers of the top sellers. It should give you some ideas. Plus, it's more about creating the right feel than accurate details. You want someone to understand what kind of book it is by glancing at the cover. You want the cover to deliver the expectations they'll have about the book.
You'll find something great. How exciting that you're closer to getting the books out there.
I wish I had more writing time. I did not meet my goals yet. Siiigh. I've gotten a lot of business done.
I like cover art with symbols, but find that a lot of people prefer an image of a person. So long as the first page is good though, I think you're all good:)
I like plenty of covers both ways. The Grisha trilogy is a good example of a high fantasy cover without a person on it. You'll find the right designer, don't worry!
As for reading as a writer, I've definitely gotten more picky. Mostly it's just that I'm so busy, if something doesn't really hook me, I don't continue. It doesn't even mean it's not well written, it just may not connect with me in the way I'm wanting it to.
Oh, and don't underestimate using a partial body shot, maybe something from behind with less detail on the dress (if you decide to use a person).
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