I’ve mentioned before that my next book, The Affix, needs a new cover. This is why:
It’s something I threw together with cheap stock images and Photoshop Elements. I like the minimalism of it, but it lacks flair and, frankly, looks amateurish. I’m not an artist; I can play with colors and such but I really can’t do better than this. The cover of One Woke Up came out better because I had more to work with in terms of possible imagery.
I made a dark version of the cover first; it isn’t appreciably better. The only advantage of a dark cover is that it would help establish the setting and tone better. The best way to do that would be with a stock photo of an autumn night, but my searches on that came up with results that were both inadequate and too expensive, a depressing combination.
A few weeks ago I got the idea to try to render an image of the gem sitting on concrete (or something that looked like concrete, anyway), with a crow’s shadow in frame. Positioning the shadow turned out to be hard enough, and making a texture that looks passably like concrete is even harder, but rendering the image at the appropriate size was threatening to melt my computer. And frankly, I’m not even sure I like this concept enough to use it.
Another concept that sounded good: A nocturnal shot of a treeline with bare trees, and a human silhouette in the foreground, with a giant image of a gem in the background taking the place of the rising moon. It’s actually the best thing I’ve come up with yet, and once again it’s way beyond my skill. Heck, the gem would still have to be rendered at a large size, and then there’s still the question of how to find appropriate stock art for the rest, to say nothing of the cost.
In a way I envy all these young adult and romance authors out there. Building a cover from stock art is ridiculously simple for their genres. There are artists who specialize in tweaking multiple pieces of stock art into something beautiful, and even some that produce generic covers for resale. A good sci-fi cover takes finesse.
No matter what, though, I can take comfort in the fact that my own poor showing is nowhere near as bad as the cover of J. K. Rowling’s new book. What the heck was she thinking?