Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Adventures in ebook cover art--Part 2

Quality ebook cover art is hard to come by for less than $150-$400.  But it can be done, consistently, if you do what I do. I hire freelance artists/graphic-designers, at the price I'm willing to pay, to make a cover based on my own design concepts. See the first post on adventures in cover artistry:

Here's where I go for my ebook cover artists:

Initially, I found a buttload of talented artists working in illustration and graphics design when I posted my ebook cover art job.  Fifty different artists applied for the job.  It was difficult to choose just one.  After going through this process several times, hiring artists and working through multiple mockups-proofs, I settled on the "prove you're the one" method.

The problem with artists is they usually have a day job.  They do this graphic design stuff on the side.  Finding time to do what I want at the price I'm willing to pay is an issue.

Sure, if I wished to throw hundreds of dollars at an artist, they'd drop everything and have my work done in two days.  But I'm kinda cheap.  That's what my wife says.

I sorted through many an artist who took a week or more getting back to me by email in order to find those who respond immediately and get the work done in days rather than weeks.  Its no surprise that the artists who run full a time graphic design business are the most prompt and professional.  Its their bread and butter to do this stuff.

Lisa Strong is the latest graphic designer I hired.  She's awesome on timeliness, professionalism, and she does as many modifications and proofs as necessary to reach a finished product you're happy with:

Here's the cover for "The Nightlife Las Vegas" she finished in five days.  Two of those days I wasted in not getting back to her on my opinion of the initial proof work.

The trick to a good cover is the K.I.S.S. principle, Keep It Simple Stupid.  Everything on your cover must be recognizable from a thumbnail image.  Most ebook shoppers will never see more than a thumbnail image of your ebook until they click on it.  Your ebook better be one cool-ass lookin' thumbnail, especially if you're an unknown Indie author.  Us Indies are always judged by our covers, initially.

This cover by Lisa Strong, has a wonderful thumbnail appeal.  Everyone can see the elegant bright white fonts and the blood splattered Las Vegas sign. Simple. Colorful. Grabs the eye. The concepts embodied in this cover are effectively communicated at both thumbnail and full size.

Give Lisa a shot.  If you're not getting what you want on an ebook cover design, perhaps you need to provide better tools and references for what you want.  I scoured the web for imagery and tools to give to Lisa. I provided her with a set of Photoshop blood splatter tools for use on my covers, along with the sign image. 

Make your cover artist's job easy, and you will get what you want.

Stay tuned for my next blog post detailing the various stages of development working through several artists on "The Nightlife Las Vegas" cover.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Should a sex scene be a lesson in anatomy?

I have been deep deep deep in editing of my own novels and those of my critique partners, specifically romance/erotica.  My own writing style borders on the edge of erotica, so it stands to reason I should work with those authors to have my novels edited-critiqued.

One thing I noticed right away is that some authors use A LOT of anatomical references in their sex scenes.  Words like:  "flare of the glans", "areola", "hymen", the ever popular "clitorus", "labia", "pussy", and "vulva" (My kid once heard the word "vulva" from somewhere and asked Dad what's a vulva?).

Now I don't know about y'all, but I would rather not listen to anatomical references when I read/write/edit a sex scene.  I personally feel these scenes are about chemistry, arousal, passion, desire, (sometimes love) and the blissful euphoria of a satisfying union between two or more partners who actually care about each other.

I think these scenes sound sterile, goofy, even vulgar and unreal, when we start spouting off scientific terms in relation to erogenous zones.

Here's an example of my own particular perversity, a scene where I edited out the anatomical language from another author's book:

Before my edit:  "Liquid fire pulsed in her nipples, pussy and clit"

After my edit:   "Liquid fire pulsed across her nipples and down between her inner thighs to the place where the burn of her swollen sex was near unbearable"

Not one single piece of anatomy is named apart from "nipples", and yet we are all able to understand perfectly clear what this woman feels and where she is feeling it. I generally don't need to name off all the little fleshy parts or use any vulgar language to create arousal.  

I realize there is more than one way to skin a cat, and I have enjoyed many a novel that delighted in the use of such vulgarities.  But I chose not to write that way for my own novels.  Is it a preference thing?  Maybe.  But I bet the majority agrees with me on this point.

In conclusion, I urge authors to carefully consider the use of anatomical language in an intimate scene.  Try to edit it out when you can. Focus on the chemistry leading in, the heat of the moment. Write around the mechanics of flesh to infuse the act with passion and arousal.

Erotically yours,