1. SebastianDark
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    SebastianDark New Member

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    Kick start your writing by creating a cover!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SebastianDark, Apr 7, 2011.

    Note: this is just my opinion on writing, and while some of you may disagree, it has worked wonders for me. And "book" in the post refers to any part of my fictional writing -- it's just easier for me to think of each piece as a standalone book.

    Intro

    I always find that nothing jump starts my writing more than creating a concept of a book cover. Maybe it's because I enjoy the nature of art, or maybe its because I like putting myself in the reader's shoes and capture that first moment they experience when they see your book.

    A great cover can jump out at readers, feeding their first impression of your book. It sets the tone and atmosphere for the story, and is the first thing that your readers (if you're courageous enough to share!) will see.

    For me, a cover also narrows my focus and helps set the tone of my book.

    The process

    My process of writing is fairly predictable, at the start. When I have inspiration for an idea, I write down as much as I can about it. I try to get all my thoughts out in this initial burst -- who the characters are, what their relationships to each other are, what paths they took to get into their current situation, etc etc. The next step, however, is a bit unconventional. I start thinking of the overall feel of the book, the atmosphere I want to convey to the reader. Is it a lovey dovey romance? A mystical fantasy? Or a fast paced thriller?

    Once I figure that out -- the feel of the book, that is -- I go about creating a cover for it. I try to capture the feel of the book in piece of art, which then helps drive my storytelling forward. It's like a self-reinforcing cycle, in a way.

    For example...

    For example, I had this great idea for a thriller the other day. The story came to me as I was falling asleep, and I put down as much as I could on paper before dozing off. The next day, I fleshed out ideas for the story some more: who were the protagonists/antagonists, what their circumstances are, and how they're dealing with the challenges they face. At the same time, I start brainstorming and sketching ideas for a cover. This comes before I start writing the actual book. I also work on the book description at the same time, so I can feed off it when I'm actually writing. If I have the same description in front of me while I'm writing that my readers are going to see before they read the book, it puts me into their shoes again - I can make the story fit the description as much as making the description fit the story.


    That's it. That's my description. And I'm going to start writing from that point. But before I do that -- I need a cover!

    So, what do I want to convey? Well, the book is a thriller, and about a detective chasing a serial killer who's terrorizing a small community. What colors are good for depicting that? Red and black, maybe, and any darker, shadow-y shades. At the same time, I don't want to give a direct image of any of the characters on the cover -- I want to leave that to the reader's imagination. So the task in front of me is thus to create a cover that will stay true to the fell of the book, while not intruding the reader's imagination.

    So I open up Photoshop, and get started. After a few hours of work, I end up with this:


    [​IMG]


    Ah. Very nice, I think. It fits the feel of my book, and matches the description. What are the first impressions you guys get when you see it? I think concepts like mystery, murder, uncertainty, danger, etc. are what I'm really trying to convey.

    From here, I can now start writing. In fact, I'm getting to work on my first chapter as soon as I hit "Submit New Thread". Having the description and cover done beforehand helps narrow my focus and really inspires me to write.

    What do you think?

    What do you guys think? Do any of you use a similar process to jump start your writing? Or to get a clearer idea of the book you're working on?

    And what do you think of the cover I made for this project? Does it match the description well, or is something off? Is it maybe too "horror-ish" compared to the thriller I'm striving to create?
     
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  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's a waste of time. Most publishers will not accept cover art from the writer. They prefer to use, or at least choose, their own illustrators.

    But if it helps YOU visualize your story, well, it's your time and effort. :)
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do something similar I create like a scrapbook for mine to visualise it really helps - its not a cover of sorts but helps me work out where my book is set and what my characters dress like etc I put the head of my chosen MC actor onto clothes he may wear. I think your cover is kinda cool and I know other authors that find it fun and productive to do the same. I sometimes play with the Gimp

    Actually some publishers send out questionairres about covers - you don't often get what you ask for but it is a good idea to be able to be specific - the more specific you can be the less disappointed you will be with the final product. Learn what stands out on a book shelf and what works on Amazon. For example the most beautiful covers I have ever seen in real life are Toni Morrison's (Song of Solomon and Paradise), however put them on a library shelf they got lost and they don't reproduce well as an ebook cover. Harry Potter with its three split on the spine really stands out and they don't look bad as ebook covers.

    I know I will be fighting a black spine or a white one - my ideal choice would be sea-green, maroon or orange. And more than one colour. Something simple and photographic on the front looks the best as an ebook cover etc.
     
  4. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Just curious... is that all really your own work, or do you look for pictures from the internet to incorporate them into your cover?

    I made two covers myself for the books that I self-published so far, and I was very careful not to take anything that wasn't mine. Contrary to your case, however, the covers were the very last things I did. :)
     
  5. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've tried this before but it didn't help me. Images of people and places help me better than cover art in getting the feel for something.

    Between your title and your cover art I'd instantly think violent horror. I would pick it up based on the cover (major horror fan!) but put it back based on the blurb. Of course, this would be more to do with personal taste: I'm the type who prefers to read mysteries and thrillers written from the perspective of the victims/villains, rather than from a third party/professional POV.
     
  6. SebastianDark
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    SebastianDark New Member

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    Ah, Yoshiko, thank you for that! I realized that my blurb totally missed the gruesome nature of the book, which my cover *did* capture. I redid the blurb in the initial post to reflect the book idea more, which is being formed as I write these beginning chapters
     
  7. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    Yeah, I'd put all the work into the cover, and then wind up hating the f***** storyline and quit. lol.
     
  8. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I've often given this some thought, but quickly dismissed it when I remember that I suck at graphic design. It's just not as firmly in my blood as wordsmithing (patent pending--I did just invent a word, after all :p).

    But I do have some experience making desktop wallpapers. Nothing fancy, but I've definitely seen worse attempts at creating a computer backdrop. Just last night, I finished one based around my WIP and, more specifically, a recurring symbol of special significance in the story. I suppose I could chop out the most interesting part of that wallpaper, slap the title and author name on it, and call it a book cover... Wouldn't be the most professional-looking thing out there, but it'd be a start.

    Graphic design based around my stories has never inspired me to write, though. It just gives me something pretty to look at while I mull things over. Having the themed wallpaper also makes me feel guilty about wasting time online when I minimize the browser and see it quite literally staring at me.

    Your cover is awesome, by the way. I'd definitely pick that book up if I saw it, and if it were a thriller, I might take it home. Horror... Maybe not so much.
     
  9. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I am inspired by pictures,
    but would not chose a book cover.

    I have several picutres of characters or places that I keep with the story.

    I did a search for pictures or buildings or places that I could put into a story.

    I have also been inspired to write a story about pictures I have found. The pics are reference and cannot be used in anything profitable without going back and requesting to use their material by the original artist.

    I did put a cover on the front of my first book. Then I read what publishers wanted and if I submit it I will remove the cover. (Will probably keep it as a suggestion for the publisher if they do accept it. Simple stock photo)
     
  10. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    I find that an exercise like this only has short-term value and rarely results in any worthwhile long-term commitment because it's driven by forced inspiration and not a well-thought out, unique concept.

    Another example is when you take a single random image from photobucket, the title of a random wikipedia article and the first few (or last few) words from a random quote to create the cover art, band name and album name for a music CD. It's possible to come up with some pretty nice stuff, but ultimately it's a ten-second endeavour.
     

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