Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

working with covers

by Rain Trueax

Covers for books both sell and ruin sales depending on whether they appeal to the readers. A big name author might be able to sell their books with any cover they want. For most, who are trying to make a living, covers are key. Because I like to make my own, I go back and forth as to what will have the most 'curb' appeal for not only me but someone else. Another question that arises is-- is being different good or not? Cookie-cutter covers bore readers but something too unique might turn them off without looking further. The cover has to give a clue as to what will be within. It's the bait on the hook as readers have so many books from which to choose, what will lead them to read your blurb or the sample from the book? It's an ongoing question.

Dreamscope appealed to me as something with which I could play but more importantly-- how would it be to create more original and yet still appealing covers? So the first people I tried out with the Oil Pastel Portrait filter were from the paranormal series, Hemstreet Witches, women born into a family where their powers were part of their birthright. These books are about what we don't see but is out there-- or is it...

My first attempt was using the existing cover for Enchantress' Secret. I felt great when I saw it with the mystical feel that the photos hadn't quite captured. (using images purchased from Grigoris Drakakis, CanStock Photos, and then combined.)

Feeling encouraged, I went onto book 2 in the series, To speak of Things Unseen. The filters created something unbelievable all right but not in a good way. How do you turn beautiful people ugly??? I went onto other images I had used on its book trailer. If you click on the YouTube link, you can see the trailer and at the end that original cover. The fltered results did not look like the characters, nor were they appealing-- energy was wrong

What I think, where it comes to people, is it needs something that it can latch onto-- a strong face is important or it does all kinds of weird things. 

Because To Speak of Things Unseen has shape-shifting as an important part of its plot, I opted to get back to the animals the characters shifted into and turned out its cover without humans. For me, that worked with enough of the subject to maybe cause potential fantasy readers to at least look at the blurb and sample.

What I am wondering now is whether it would work for romances where there is no mysticism as such. Romance readers have strong ideas on what they like in a cover. Among my contemporary romances, I have this cover with which I am not pleased-- and have changed a lot of times. 

Its problem is the hero is supposed to be a powerful man but ugly in the way ugly can be beautiful. How do you depict that where available models are all handsome men? Ugly that can be seen as beautiful is not easy to capture. Although there is a villain who believes in mystical powers, it isn't in the book as reality but as his delusion. Still I gave the cover a Dreamscope try but have yet to put this one up. 

I think if I did use it, I'd change the text to turquoise. Like my paranormals, this book is set in Arizona, and turquoise is part of that land's mythology. I am still debating as another option for the cover would be no couple and just the desert. The Arizona Sonoran Desert is a character in the book (natural settings are important in all my books). Anyway, I gave that a try also but think I want a couple-- maybe

The image below is its current cover. The problem with it is, although the heroine is a landscape painter (this uses one of our photos from Tucson and turned it a little more painterly with a Corel PhotoPaint tool), I kind of feel this makes it look as though the book is more western than it is-- it is a romance ;).

Enough on the covers. With this tool, I got curious about what it'd be like for my family and me. Coming next blog.


Caroline Clemmons said...

Interesting post, Rain. My husband and I tried making my covers when I got the rights back to my Kensington books. We did a terrible job and I've replaced all those covers. Not everyone has the patience or talent to do covers!

Rain Trueax said...

Definitely true, Caroline and some sell enough books to make possible paying a talented graphics artist to do them. This tool makes taking a regular photo with the potential to make it into something very different. That said, I think in romances it doesn't pay to be too different :). Readers have very particular likes.

Jean R. said...

Oh my gosh, Dreamscope looks like so much fun to play with! I'm glad I stop by from Joared's blog to check yours out. You do beautiful work! I have used my own photos for books I create just for myself and I love doing them. Now I have a new goal for the cover art.

Rain Trueax said...

Jean, you will find other interesting options there as the tools allow all kinds of filters plus you can do a custom filter. It's free but they do have an upgrade that is $9,95 a month. I will probably try that eventually and just hope it gives the same results as I like the looseness that it has now.

joared said...

I'm not writing books for publication or creating covers -- maybe in my next life -- but I find reading about all this fascinating. I really do like that sunset photo just for itself -- my Arizona memories.

Rain Trueax said...

I miss Arizona sunsets. They can be spectacular