Though I am not a cartographer, I do create maps for my work. I’ve acquired an eye for good proportions and I’ve learned the importance of fonts. That doesn’t mean I make the best decisions, but it does mean I feel confident enough to dabble in book cover design. To be clear, I have absolutely no graphic design skills, but I do like to mess with images.

A short story I submitted to a contest will be rejected in June. I know this because I realized too late that I didn’t follow the submittal requirements, but I probably will not be informed until the deadline for submissions in June. Drat that I have to wait until then to officially announce the rejection! The plan was once it got rejected, I would self-publish it on Smashwords and offer it to potential readers for free. I was hoping to use the short story to learn the ropes of self-publishing through Smashwords. I’d rather mess up with a cruddy short story, than my very first (cruddy) novel.

Anyway, I know that seems odd. If the story is rejected, maybe it’s for good reason. Maybe it’s not ready for an audience.

Possibly. Actually, most likely, but keep in mind that I submitted it to an anthology with only four (4!) slots. It also has some big name authors already attached to the project so it is attracting a lot of attention. I know that within the first few weeks, the editors had hundreds of stories to sort through. Even if I had submitted the piece according to their instructions, and even if my story was really good, the chances of earning a spot in that anthology is very slim.

Even though my short story may not be good enough for the Fantasy Faction Anthology, some folks might find it interesting enough to download and read. Maybe.

With that bit of reasoning behind me, last Friday, instead of writing on my current project, I got the bug to create the e-cover for this short story. It is called Súria and is about a young woman who becomes enslaved by magic. Though the story is about 8,000 words in length, there’s not much to it and I couldn’t think of one defining image that embodies the story. Told from Súria’s point of view, I could have gone with a young woman on the cover in a hooded cloak, but I can’t draw for shit. I’m also horrible at cobbling together images.

I thought, I know! I’ll go with some graphics. She’s in a thorny position throughout the story and it never gets any better for her. In the end, she’s just as enslaved as in the beginning. Moreso, actually. I looked around for some thorny-viney thing on the internet and copied just one or two strands of vines with thorns and went to town with copy and paste. Here’s how it came out:

First attempt at ecover for Súria (yuck!)

It’s interesting. I guess. But not what I want. I thought, oh, in the end she’s up on a mountain, reaching for the sky, maybe I could just use a landscape photo.

Back to the internet I went. This time I headed over to DeviantArt. I’m sure you all are aware of this site. It never fails to amazing me how many great artist put their art up on that site. I searched for dark landscapes and found a great picture that more or less fits the story. As luck would have it, the artist offered the photo for free. All he/she asks for is credit. Easy.

Though striking, it is a rather plain view of a valley with a storm above it. I could have tried to jazz it up with a castle in the distance, maybe some withered and blackened trees in the forefront and a woman looking out into the distance, but that would require more skill and patience than I have. So, I just picked a cool-looking font. Added a bit of shadow effect on the title and viola!

Second attempt at ecover for Súria (not too bad) - Stock photo by wyldraven

Probably not the last version (still got months to mess with this), but I like it.

Here it is in tiny form:


13 thoughts on “Covers

  1. I can’t offer any suggestions–but I’m looking forward to seeing how the cover progresses — Good luck!

  2. I really like the second cover look, I’m not sure its quite what you are looking for it reads to me that Suria is the name of a place not a person since she isn’t featured on it.

    Still it is a great looking cover.

    1. Hmmm, I may have to somehow get a person in that picture. It will mean actually learning how to merge pictures, but I’ll try! Thanks for the feedback.

  3. I agree with Laith, this cover gives the impression that Suria is a place. Perhaps a small image of a woman sat on the hillside with her head in her hands? That would make me want to know more about her, about this haunting landscape and the world in which she lives in.

    Perhaps in the distance you could put a village or the merest hint of a city to suggest a fantasy setting? Otherwise it could just as easily be a cover for a Thomas Hardy novel.

    1. Right. Okay. I need a castle (there’s a castle in the story) in the distance and a forlorn looking chick in the foreground (or mid-foreground). I’m gonna do it, folks, I’m gonna try! It may not be pretty, but I’ll try and I’ll post the results here. If it at all comes out looking okay, I’ll explain how I did it too.

  4. From your description of your story, I like the first cover. The second is truly beautiful but it doesn’t say anything to me about your story. When I’m looking at covers, I want a hint of the story I’m about to delve into.

    1. I hear ya. The thing is – this is a short story and I’m not a graphic artist. We’ll see what I can come up with, but I agree the landscape photo needs a bit more. I’m working on it!

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