Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Covers and paperbacks

It's been a year of biting the bullet.

When I say 'year' I'm including 2018, since that's when most of what I'm going to talk about happened.

Each time since 2014 when I uploaded a new book to Kindle I intended to produce a paperback version as well. And I got myself an account at CreateSpace to do this, but somehow held back from going through with the whole process. Formatting an ebook seemed a piece of cake by contrast with preparing a book for print. The thing that was my main sticking point was sorting out the cover.

Recently, CreateSpace went out of existence and Kindle (KDP) took over the print on demand process. I decided this was it: time to take the plunge. I worked my way through everything that I thought needed to be done and then checked with my older son, who's the IT whiz in our family. Immediately he pointed out a bunch of things that weren't going to look good unless I reformatted and improved the fonts and shifted pages around and got rid of things that weren't appropriate for the paperback version. Phew.

He came over to my house and wrote me out a check list as a reference for when I did the other three books. It proved immensely helpful, and for the most part I managed to reformat the remaining three books on my own. Even doing the covers.

The first paperback, Diary of a Prostate Wimp, was published in the second half of last year, while my wife was in England. The first time we spoke on WhatsApp after I'd published the paperback, she told me she'd ordered a copy. (So at least there was one sale...!)

All the books are now available in the printed version, and it's been encouraging to see the interest in the books as opposed to their electronic cousins.

Having achieved this, I felt it was time to do something about the cover for Grimhilda! The original e-book cover was adapted from the poster for the stage production - Grimhilda! had started out life as a musical. My son and I had sat down one evening, taken the poster version, got rid of some elements, improved others, and generally made it more presentable. No disrespect to the original artist but the poster wasn't up to scratch for the wider world of book covers.

The cover my son and I made was good, but not excellent, but it sufficed for the first four years of the book's life online. I always knew I wanted to redo it, but I never seemed to have the cash in hand to get a good artist (such as the guy who did the original cover for my third book, The Disenchanted Wizard) to make a good job of it.

There was no option: if I wanted a new cover I'd have to do it myself. And early this month (January 2019) I sat down, worked my way through Canva and produced a cover that I was much happier with. It's more striking, looks more like a proper cover (!) and hopefully is more eye-catching altogether.

Grimhilda! new cover
It was made from a variety of elements: the background only came to my attention after I'd tried a bunch of other options, such as finding something on Pixabay. It turned out none of the photographs I looked at there were going to work, but they gave me ideas for what could work.

I settled on the background, and then looked for a graphic that would connect to the title character. There were plenty of these, but most of them didn't belong with the rest of the cover. Thankfully, in the end I found the one of the witch on the broomstick, and she fitted perfectly. On the earlier cover my son had found a similar graphic that he applied over the snowy background as a shadow of the witch flying overhead. Very neat.

Today I revised the cover again...the author name seemed to stick out in a way that wasn't comfortable and the quote at the bottom of the page just cluttered things up - apart from not being readable on anything small.

Hopefully now I'm done with this cover for the time being. Might be time to tackle one of the other ones I'm not so happy about!

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