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Friday, January 9, 2015

Cover Art Conundrum

I thought I knew the perfect image I wanted. A man holding a book, sitting on a stack of books, while a woman looked at him disapprovingly. Off to Morgue File I went. However:

With alternate search parameters, I found and dismissed tons of images. I've learned more about pixels and vectors and crazy ways images may be terrorized on the internet for fun and profit than I ever wanted to know, and still know next to nothing.

I will never be a visual artist. I worry over the words. Seriously.

But the more possibilities, the worse every one looks. I decide to look at comparable novels. In chick lit, (knowing what people pay for cover art) it's clear that thousands of dollars have been spent on clip art that resembles something one would find hanging in an elementary school classroom. I find myself thinking "I could do that." There's only one problem. I absolutely cannot do that -- who did I think I was kidding?

I kept the idea that I needed to simplify. The drawings look like clip art, not a digital photograph of an action-packed movie (like high fantasy). I could do simple. What could be hard about simple?


Back to searching. One idea I liked was that my male protagonist doesn't measure up to his wife's expectations. I found a measuring tape image. I was happy with it. I uploaded it to the box. I shared it with some people -- they said "maybe it's just this time of year, but it makes it look like a weight loss book." Ugh!

The idea behind #25Reasons is that Jane wants Charlie to be more romantic, and thinks he will gain this by reading parts of her favorite romances to her. And Charlie approaches the romances like one's average domesticated neanderthal -- partly because he doesn't "get it" and mostly because he doesn't want to.

So I thought about an image of books. I gathered 25 romance novels I just happened to have lying about the house, stuck sticky notes in, arranged them and started snapping pictures. My husband showed me how to use his camera to do all kinds of cool photograph to art stuff. I loved the end result. But when I stuck the image into the book cover template, it just lost some awesomeness. It lost a whole lot of awesomeness.

So now I'm trying to add a silhouette of a guy climbing the books. Even I can't screw up a silhouette, right? It's little more than a line drawing. But sticking it into the template box -- I don't know. It is not living up to my expectations.  My son said it looked like the shadow of a spy on the books. He isn't wrong. [Sigh.]

I'd say back to the drawing board, but I don't draw. Back to the search engine box? Possibly. And every new image means a new cover blurb and I've got to get those two things right before I decide background and font color -- right? Then the back blurb.

Oh, for the talents of an artistic monkey!

To add final insult to injury, last night I stumbled across Marriage: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick. I've half-heartedly followed her blog for a few years. She has a huge following, and only slightly better art skills than me. She released her book in December, and the reviews are not great. While our books are not THAT similar, I would not be surprised to see them side by side on a Barnes and Noble table of couple's humor books. If her fans are not ecstatic about her book, is there any hope at all for my little labor of love?

Oh, COVER, where art thou?

Phyl Campbell is the author of several books, including Mother Confessor, Carley Patrol, and Martha's Chickens and the Pirates. Her website is