I recently completed the cover and inner illustrations for my novel Lesser Gods (which is a free download from Jan. 23-26, 2013 along with software/apps to read it on about any computer, tablet, or smartphone made — as well as a Kindle at Amazon.com).
I’ve been writing, revising, and reworking this science fiction novel on and off for nearly a decade, and as is often the case with authors, I also spent time dreaming about having a cover for it that was to my liking. Possibly the first thing to note is the title change; the book originally sported Wrong Side In which seemed a clever title to me, a notion not shared by any other soul on the planet. Thus, an eventual title change as well.
Here are two of my early (and painfully poor) efforts:
During this time I also created a cyborg cover illustration that I think would have worked well as a book cover. However it didn’t really hint at the humor and moral issues covered in the novel, and so will live to fight another day on some other book cover:
The years passed and eventually the final draft of the story was ready to go to print. At this point, I created a series of illustrations that held the pearl of the final cover illustration — surrounded by a cloud of distractions. I’m often bothered when working with authors on their book covers by what I’ve come to call KSE (“Kitchen Sink Effect”). Basically the KSE happens when an author tries to tell the whole story of the novel on the cover illustration, throwing in (as the old cliche goes) everything but the kitchen sink. The result of the KSE is a hodgepodge at best, and generally an eyesore. A quality cover can result only after the author is convince to allow me to cut away unneeded elements.
What was alarming to me in working on my own cover was that even being aware of the KSE, as an author I was unable to resist the siren calls and guided my ship toward the rocky shore. Without considering what I did, I added cyborgs, pretty gals, a dragon, court jester dummy, aircraft, spaceships, and other odds and ends. I tried to juggle, move, nudge everything into place as KSE took over.
So here are just a few of perhaps a dozen of the KSE versions of the cover I created:
Eventually I had an “aha” moment and cut away everything but the hero and his hallo along with his throne and distant planet. No, this scene never actually appears in the book (though there are spots where a reader might imagine it), and, yes, major characters and elements in the book are missing from the illustration. Yet this illustration, free of the KSE, proves the most effective solution for marketing the book.
And in the end, that’s what a good book cover is all about: Capturing a potential reader’s attention and giving him a feel for what the book will be like, and doing that with just his first casual glance at the cover.
I’m offering Lesser Gods as a free ebook from Jan. 23-26, 2013 via Amazon.com. You do NOT need a Kindle reader to read this novel; you can download free software and apps to read Kindle books on smartphones, tablets, Macs, PCs, etc., from Amazon.com.