Cover Fonts – Evoking Emotion Through Typography

Since the explosion of self-publishing, a cottage industry of graphic designers has cropped up to create the covers that sell the books. I know, I know, you should never judge a book by its cover, but let’s be realistic here: we all look at covers as our first line of decision making. Imagine for a moment you’ve never heard of Ray Bradbury. He’s just another guy cranking out books. You come across this cover.

Booooring.

Would it catch your eye?

Probably not. To be fair, I just grabbed some clip art I had lying around and threw some text on the cover, so it’s admittedly not my best work. The font, by the way, is the default Inkscape sans-serif font, cleverly named “sans-serif”.

If you’re unfamiliar with Fahrenheit 451, drop what you’re doing and go read it. It’s an important piece of literature and that’s not something I say lightly. If you are familiar with it, you’ll recognize the element of a burning book that is central to the story.

So, okay, it’s not a good cover from really any point of view, but rather than worry about the images of the flames and the book, we’re going to focus on the fonts and the emotions they invoke. That’s right, your font choice can elicit an emotional response. And that’s a very good thing, provided you’re eliciting the response you intend to elicit.

Inkscape’s default sans-serif font doesn’t do much to evoke a response, but it probably wasn’t intended to. It’s clean and easy to read, but it’s about as emotional as VCR instructions. Fahrenheit 451 is a very passionate book and saddling its cover with a font meant for memos and yard sale posters isn’t doing it credit. This is where exploring your font choices can make a huge impact. Just like you’d take the time to find the right images, it’s extremely important to find the right fonts – and that’s where a lot of beginners take a hit.

I’ve harped on fonts and typography in general before, so if you want a bit of background (including some cool free tips on Inkscape and GIMP), check these out. This post is going to be less historical and technical than some of the past ones, but no less important in terms of effective design.

Back in 2006, the Wichita State University’s Software Usability Research Laboratory conducted a study to see how people perceived certain fonts. Attaching something as nebulous and fleeting as an emotion or a perception to a font is no easy task, but the results were interesting. Using some standard Windows fonts, the researchers asked people to associate a font with a personality trait. You can go read more about that here, but the takeaway was people associate fonts with traits, sometimes quite strongly. Interestingly enough, sans-serif fonts didn’t seem to raise any noticeable good or bad personality associations, which would explain why the cover text for our mock-up of F451 looks so bland. But they did make some interesting associations (from blog.hubspot.com/marketing):

  • Serif fonts were rated as “stable,” “practical,” and “mature.”

  • Sans serif fonts didn’t receive any particularly positive or negative personality associations.

  • Script fonts were perceived as “feminine,” “funny,” and “casual.”

  • Modern fonts were categorized as “masculine,” “assertive,” and “coarse.”

  • Monospaced fonts were called “dull,” “plain,” and “unimaginative.”

Recently, CreativeMarket.com had a font sale – a whopping 43 fonts for 21 bucks (link at bottom). Some of them I’ll likely never use, but there were enough standouts in the collection to warrant purchasing it.

Just to show how font choice can affect the tone of a word, I chose a handful of the fonts and applied them to one word: Evolution. The word itself is something that could conceivably fit almost any genre of book from sci-fi to romance to horror. Watch what happens:

Inkscape default sans-serif, not bad, but not exciting, either
Inkscape standard serif font. At least has a bit more oomph, even if it’s evocative of newsprint.
Flanela Sans. Now we’re getting somewhere. The stark, thin lines could be good for sci-fi or a thriller. There’s a certain coldness to the font. Very computer-y without resorting to the standard monotype fonts that people seem to think computers still use.
Beautiful Friday 01. A playful font that’s more evocative of harmless fun. This would definitely not work for horror or thriller; it’s too happy. Would be good for romcom or feel-good fiction.
Castrina Typescript. Maybe it’s just me, but this feels very feminine. Probably a good choice for romance or summer beach reading.
Mutiara. The harsh lines don’t speak of safety or even sanity. Mutiara has an almost sinister, slasher-like feel to it. This would be a good choice for horror, but probably not a lot else unless it’s paired with another font; it’s too rough thrillers and far too in your face for romance.
Lost Volution. The Gothic lines are neat and tidier than Mutiara’s, but the decorative nature of the font is still overpowering. Emotionally, this has a somewhat sinister feel to it that would work well with horror or even steampunk. Westerns could possibly make good use of this one.
Solid70 Type System. Even though this is really retro font (those of who grew up in the 70s will recognize the style) it’s been modernized enough that it could work today. It’s a playful font, but the harsh angles still give it a very technical feel. With a bit of work, this could be effective in sci-fi or cyberpunk settings. Especially a 70s cyberpunk with big, clunky, plastic phones and loud keyboards.

Just a gander at those should evoke different emotional responses. They feel different. And even though each of them spell out the same word, that word takes on a different sense of meaning based on what font is used to present it.

So, if a font can impact how we feel about a word, it’s easy to imagine how a font can change the feel of a cover. Take the Fahrenheit 451 cover above, for instance. We know it’s not a lighthearted tale, so Beautiful Friday and Castrina are right out the window. Mutiara wouldn’t work on its own (more on that later) and Lost Volution is far too fussy. That leaves the default Inkscape fonts (which we’re going to ignore), Flanela Sans, and Solid70.

Much as I love Solid70, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the cover, but Flanela Sans just might work.

Not great, but better

The problem with Flanela is the coldness it inspires with its thin lines and tall letters. It’s a good font, but Flanela alone ain’t going to cut it a book about burning books; it needs some heat.

Which leads me to another point. There is no rule that says you can only use one font at a time. Mixing fonts is a bit of an art form, but it’s not completely inaccessible. Creative Market has a bunch of infographics on how to do it and do it well.

Let’s see if we can do some mixing and evoke more of an emotional response. Rather than sticking exclusively with Flanela, I’m going to bam it up a notch with Mutiara.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

The images and the layout still aren’t spectacular, but the text is looking pretty good. Now we’ve got Flanela’s cold, sterile feel combined with Mutiara’s in-your-face passion and a title that is a hell of a lot more eye catching than the original. And bear in mind, we did it with two fonts and only white. Adding yellow or orange to the 451, especially with a faint glow effect, might make it pop even more.

FahrenheitColored
Bam.

 

You can have the absolute best image for your cover and completely blow it with the font choice. Fonts elicit an emotional response and that response has to match up with what the book feels like. Just like it wouldn’t be appropriate to use Castrina Typescript or Beautiful Friday 01 for Fahrenheit 451, using a combination of Flanela and Mutiara for Lady Chatterly’s Lover or The Girl On The Train would be a recipe for disaster. Although, I guess if you were to rewrite Lady Chatterly’s Lover and include zombies (Lady Chatterly’s Zombie Lover?), Flanela and Mutiara might work.

And, please, unless you’re designing the interface for Microsoft Bob, avoid Comic Sans.

Got any comments or other tips you’d like to add? Drop ’em in the comments. I love comments.

Get Lostvoltype’s Mega Font Bundle on Creative Market for only 21 bucks.

A couple posts about fonts and emotion.

By the way, if you’re wondering what the current cover for Fahrenheit 451 looks like, it looks like this. It’s a clean, clever play on the book and matches with a start font-set and stark color scheme that’s evocative of repressive governments everywhere. Brilliant, if you ask me.

41Cx8mY2UNL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

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Book Covers – Transmute

Transmute is almost ready to fly. I’ve got a couple beta readers still flipping through things, but the main text is done. In the interim, I’ve been tweaking the eBook cover and working on the print cover. The print cover is, of course, far more time-consuming. After some back and forth with the good people at Indie Author Support & Discussion, I think they’re pretty much done.

What do you think?

transmutecomicr1mincolor
Here’s the eBook version, which has slightly different dimensions than the print version.
transmutecomiccovercs2
And the print version, complete with blurb.

How Indie is Indie?

Late last year I was at Page One, one of the few remaining local independent bookstores in Albuquerque. The other is Bookworks. Both are great places and are generally much more pleasant to hang out in than any of the bigger corporate joints. Anyway, when we were at Page One there was a small spot in the back where some local indie authors were doing a little meet and greet. It was quiet, so I went up to say hello and meet some of the other Albuquerque authors.

So, what was the first thing they ask me? “Who are you published with?”

When I told them I self-published my three they got that look. You know, the one that says, “So, you’re not good enough to get published?”

I shook hands, nodded and smiled, and moved on to see what else the store had to offer.

The whole interaction got me wondering, though. These guys had publishers, editors, book designers, book formatters, and so on. Granted, they were published through a small press, but they had actual publishers and people who, ostensibly, were there to help them out. If their publishers were anything like the other publishers I’ve heard about, the authors had to give up rights to their books and get a pittance from each sale, but they had a larger support structure than I did when I started out.

How exactly is that independent again? If we say you’re an indie author because you’re with a small press, then independence is simply a matter of scale. The difference between publishing through Hachette and a local publisher is just that the publisher is larger and you get even less of a pittance from each sale.

And in return, you get to look down on people who decided to publish on their own.

Does that mean that their work was any better or worse than anything self-pubbed? No, not necessarily. Certainly there’s a ton of crap being self-published these days, but there’s also a bunch of crap coming out of traditional publishers both large and small. Where the publishing happens is largely a matter of choice and has no real impact on the quality of the work. As a buddy of mine says, “Crap abounds.”

Publishing is an interesting world these days. It used to be you had to get a rep, send a manuscript around, and tack rejection notices up on your wall while you drank scotch and hammered out the next great American novel. Now, I can pretty much guarantee you there’s someone out there that will happily publish your book, but that acceptance letter will probably come through a small publisher. Don’t expect much in the way of an advance or help with marketing, though. Unless you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, you’re pretty much on your own making sales. Fortunately for King and Rowling, they’re both excellent authors with a long history, so marketing their books can consist of “New Stephen King novel coming in a few months. We’ve already deducted the cost from your checking account and you can expect the book on your Kindle when it comes out.”

Does all this mean I look down on people who went through publishers? Not at all. I respect the gumption to get out there and wade through the Byzantine maze of publishers and find someone they can work with. That takes a lot of patience and more wherewithal than I can usually muster. And traditional publishers offer some intangible benefits that self-publishing does not. A lot of book awards won’t even look at self-published books. Ditto for a bunch of the bigger book review blogs. Another benefit is you can look down your nose at self-published authors.

Self-published people, on the other hand, get the benefit of keeping the rights to their own works and generally get larger royalties. The downside is you don’t have the resources of a publisher to help you out.

Which means you are well and truly on your own with self-published works. You make the call about how it gets edited, designed, and marketed. Fortunately, there’s an entire cottage industry out there doing cover design, ebook formatting, print book formatting, editing, and so on. In fact, if you need covers or formatting, drop me a line. I’m good and I work pretty cheap. If you take a quick look at the bottom of this post, there are some links to people who can help you format your book, design your cover, provide editing and proofreading services and so on.

In both cases, self-published and traditionally published authors are usually on the hook for their own marketing and that’s the thing that’s truly brutal. You may think pouring your life into a book for a year is rough. Wait until you have to get people to read it.

In case this was a tl;dr moment, to sum up:

There are pluses and minuses to self-publishing or going through traditional publishing routes. Traditionally published authors get more resources, better awards, and also get the ability to look down on self-published authors. Self-published authors get to keep the rights to their own works and usually get better royalties. Both are valid ways forward because when you’re writing the only important thing is someone out there is reading.

In the end, it’s your choice to determine just how indie you want to be. I write, format my own books, and design my own covers. Others are quite content to farm out some of that work. It’s up to you and no one else.

So, either way, if you’re just starting out and are looking for some resources, here are some folks I know that might be able to help you on your way.

Resources:

Editing

Kelly Hartigan

Kim Huther

Michelle Dunbar (email)

Cover Design

Sharon Brownlie

Eric Lahti

Melanie Smith (sells photography, can be used for cover art)

eBook Formatting

Eric Lahti

Print Formatting

Eric Lahti

Marketing

Melanie Smith

ilovebookz.com

You can also try to send me a review request for this blog.

If you know of anyone who should be added to this list, leave a comment with his or her contact information. At some point in the near future, Ian D. Moore of bouncepen.com is going to make a more permanent version of this list.

Simple Shadow Text in Inkscape

Following up on the last post on creating shadowed text in GIMP, I’d like to show you an easier way to do it. As I said in that last post, I’m not a big fan of working with text in GIMP. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine program for bitmap editing, but there are just better tools for dealing with text manipulation. Vector applications like Inkscape and Illustrator give you more flexibility in layout and text work. To show you just how easy, here’s a quick tutorial. Now, I’m assuming you’re at least somewhat familiar with Inkscape. If not, there are lots of free tutorials out there and this post will still be here when you get back.

Step one. Make some text

With Inkscape open, select the text tool (the A) and type something. I was feeling clever, so I typed shadowy. Change the font to something you like and resize the text with the arrows that appear when you select the object with the pointer tool.

2 - Fonted Sized
Molot. 73.95 pts.

Step two. Copy the text

Ctrl + C. Control + V. If you’re on a Mac, it’ll be something similar.

3 - Copied
Double your text, double your fun

Step three. Change the color and layer the objects

Find the text you want to use as the shadow text and change the color to something a bit shadowy-er. I chose a medium-ish gray. Align the objects however you want. If your gray text is on top of the black text, select the gray text with the pointer, go to Object and click on Lower. Or just press the page down key on your keyboard.

4 Layers
Order the text to do stuff. And things.

Step four. Do a bit of blurring.

With GIMP there were a few extra steps here. Since GIMP works on pixels, you have to select the color, grow the selection, and then feather the selection. After the selection is made and the selected area filled with a selected color, a bit of blurring is necessary to get everything looking just right. With Inkscape, all you have to do is click on the shadowy gray text and look for the Blur slider in the fill dialog box. I set mine to 1.7%. Inkscape doesn’t mess around when it blurs things.

5 - Shadowed
Aaaand we’re done.

Step five. Export.

If you want to do your layout in GIMP, you’ll need to export the text as a transparent png file. Select both the black text and the gray text by drawing a box around them with the pointer tool. Look for the Export Dialog and specify where you’re exporting to, make sure to check Hide All Except Selected, then click Export.

6 - Export

Now you’ve got a transparent png file you can import into GIMP and use as a layer on your book cover. Or you can do what I do and pull the cover into Inkscape and do all the layout work there.

ShadowyFinal
Such a sexy, bold statement about something.

Has anyone got any tips to share or questions that need answering? Leave a comment!

Simple Shadow Text in GIMP

I’ve always designed my own book covers. I’m a terrible illustrator, but pretty decent at layout and text effects. Fortunately, there are plenty of people out there who make great images and I can do some manipulation on them to put together a halfway decent looking cover.

Not everyone can do this, and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who look at what I’ve designed and call it crap. That’s fine, I’ve done the same about other book covers out there, too. Graphic design is a pretty personal thing in that what I find attractive may or may not resonate with anyone else. Design goes through trends, some of which are excellent and tend to stick around, others are abysmal and tend to vanish. Ideally, a design should appeal to the maximum amount of people possible, but if you think you’re going to please everyone, you’re fooling yourself.

Anyway, I’ve picked up a few tricks here and there over the years and they seem like good things to share. Ostensibly, this blog is about writing and books, so this is a bit outside the norm, but it’s not too far off base. The first of these tricks is doing some simple text shadowing in GIMP. Ideally, I prefer to work with Inkscape for all my text work because it’s much easier and more flexible once you wrap your head around it, but a lot of people like to work exclusively in GIMP, Photoshop, or other bitmap editors so this post will focus on GIMP. Photoshop and most other bitmap editors work basically the same way. The next post will do the same thing with Inkscape.

The first thing to get used to is the idea of using layers. See, images consist of individual pixels (picture elements, in case you’re playing Trivial Pursuit) and once you place a bunch of pixels in with another bunch of pixels it’s a real bear to separate them. Think about the amount of effort it takes to pull the bourbon out of your soda after you’ve poured them together. Actually, screw that. Just drink the bourbon and soda; it’s a hell of a lot easier.

Anyway, the way bitmap editors work is by selecting pixels based on certain criteria, usually color. In an image with millions of colors, selecting just the ones you want gets to be a dicey proposition. That’s why layers make things so much easier. Drink your bourbon and soda, we’re about to through the looking glass.

Take any image and it can consist of multiple layers. Those layers can be any color you want, including no color at all. When you look at the image with a whole mess of transparent layers, it looks like a single image. The image below is the final product of this tutorial. It looks like one simple image, but it’s actually comprised of three layers that can all be individually manipulated.

7 The Shadow Knows
Click to embiggen.

By using layers, you free yourself from the Herculean chore of selecting individual pixels. Everything is neatly laid out and separated from the other elements so you can tweak one part of the picture without impacting any other part. In GIMP, you create layers by using the Layers dialog and clicking the button for either new layer or copy layer (just hover the cursor over the buttons, it’ll let you know what they do). Photoshop and other tools work similarly. If your bitmap editor doesn’t support layers, ditch it and use something else. It may take some time to learn how to use the software, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. GIMP, by the way, is free.

Step one. Make some text.

This varies from editor to editor, but it usually centers on finding the Text tool and typing. Look for something that looks like an A or a T. Click somewhere on the blank canvas and type something. Working with text in a bitmap editor is still a PITA compared to working with text in a vector program, so you want to make sure you get things as good as possible before you commit everything. In this example, I’ve set the font to League Spartan at 72pt. Use whatever font and size you want.

1 Text
We’re about to find out what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

The final step (not shown here) was to set the text color to red. Once I’ve got my text done, I get this:

2 Red Yo
Red shadows? Sounds like the Commies are back. If they ever left.

Step two. Layer that sucker up.

If you look in the top right hand part of the image above you’ll see the layers dialog with two objects in it: A T with SHADOWY and a grid with Background. Those are layers. You can edit the text layer if you want to. Select the text layer by clicking on it, selecting the text tool from the toolbox, and double clicking on the text.

I’m going to make a new layer by copying the SHADOWY layer. To do that, look for the copy layer button. In GIMP it’s at the bottom of the layer dialog (top left of the picture, above the brushes dialog), and looks like a couple of squares, one on top of the others.

The reason for creating a new layer is so I can work with the copied layer without impacting the text layer. Copying the layer creates an exact duplicate of the selected layer that I can do horrible things to.

3 Layers
SHADOWY #1 is the new layer and a not-so-subtle reminder that SHADOWY is number 1

The visible order of the layers is the same as the order in the layers dialog. The topmost layer is at the top of the list.

Now, like I said before, bitmap editors work by selecting pixels. Because we made a duplicate layer and made the text all red, this is pretty trivial. Click the eyeball next to the SHADOWY #1 layer to hide it, and click on the SHADOWY layer to select it. We’ll put the SHADOWY #1 layer a bit. Hiding it makes it easier to work with the other layers.

Step three. Use the layers wisely.

With the second layer (SHADOWY) selected, go to Edit->Select by color-> and click on the red text. BAM! The text is selected. From here you can do whatever you want to just the text and it’ll be our little secret. Just to make things more fun, we’re going to modify the selection like the mad scientists we are. Go back to Edit and select grow. This grows the selection by a number of pixels. I chose 5 because reasons. Then, since shadows don’t look as good with a hard edge, I went back to Edit and selected Feather. This feathers the selection so it’s not a smooth line.

4 mod select
Selectamundo. Really hard to see when it’s this small. Click to embiggen or middle click to open in a new tab.

Then, because a shadow shouldn’t be red, I went back to Edit and selected Fill with Foreground color. This made the text black, thicker, and slightly feathered at the edges. Finally, go to Edit, select Deselect All. Yes, I know I just told you to select deselect. Let’s blur this out a bit more. Make sure the right layer is selected and go to Filters->Blur-Gaussian Blur. Blur it as much as you want until you get something blurlicious.

5 BLURRY
Blurtacular. Also, note the layer order has been switched in the Layers dialog. I did that to mess with your head.

Step four. Meet Mr. Opacity

The last thing we’re gonna do with the shadow is lighten it up a bit by playing with the opacity. Each layer can have a different opacity from the rest of them. You can change the opacity by using the Opacity slider. Opacity, by the way, is a measure of how well you can see through something. Something you can’t see through is considered opaque. The cat sitting in between you and your monitor is 100% opaque.

6 Opacity
I can see right through your shadowy heart.

Step five. Final steps.

Now, turn the top layer back on, make sure you’ve got the correct layer selected, and use the move tool to adjust the position of the shadow. The move tool usually looks like four arrows. You can reposition a layer without moving the other layers. This is a good thing.

The final step is the select the background and make it white. Edit->Fill with Background color will work for that. When it’s all done, you should wind up with something like this.

7 The Shadow Knows
Woohoo!

If you’re working on your book cover and want to do some text work, use your layers. You can have as many as you want. I think so anyway, I’ve never actually tested that theory. Create one layer for your background image and then as many layers as necessary for your text.

Bam! Layer magic and text awesomeness.

Anyone got any other good tips?

Scrivener, You and I Need to Talk

I’ve been using Scrivener for the better part of the year now. I wrote both Saxton stories in it and started dysRUPT – a sci-fi project I’ve been working on. Overall, I really like the program for writing. It’s got some great features like places to dump research, which was great for all the Navajo words I had to look up, and easy-to-use organization. In fact, all the Saxton stories are currently stored in one Scrivener project. Writing in it is fast and easy. All in all, it’s a great program.

But you know what? Compiling drove me absolutely nuts. Scrivener projects aren’t inherently portable. They can be opened in other copies of Scrivener – and they’ve got a liberal registration process, but you have to compile to get a Word document. That’s not much of a problem. What is a problem is this: You’re supposed to be able to take a project straight to epub or mobi. How freaking cool is that? With Word, I have to load the docx file into Calibre, let Calibre create an epub, and do some tweaking in Sigil, then take the output from that and put it in Kindle Previewer to get the mobi.

Fo shizzle, that’s a lot of steps. It would be awesome to just do my formatting in Scrivener, compile an epub, and take it straight to Amazon’s Kindle Previewer to make a mobi for upload. Or, better yet, go straight to mobi. For the most part, that process works really well, but there’s just one little problem. I can’t seem to figure out how to control where the damned Table of Contents gets placed when I make an epub with the Windows version Scrivener. It just winds up right in front of everything else, which is exactly where I don’t want it to go. Sure, it’s fixable with Sigil, but I was hoping to avoid doing any serious tweaking of the epub.

Before you ask, yes, I did Google it. A lot. I tried multiple ways of compiling and still wound up with a TOC in the wrong place. I even created my own Table of Contents with the appropriate internal links and still got Scrivener’s Table of Contents when I compiled. And it was still in the wrong place. In the end, I compiled to Word, did my formatting there and sent it through Calibre to Sigil to Kindle Previewer.

I know this blog doesn’t get a huge amount of hits, but if anyone has any tips, please drop ’em in the comments. I’d love to be able to use Scrivener all the through the process.

Ah, Refreshing!

The Clock Man‘s gotten dinged a couple times by readers who felt it could have easily been expanded to a full-length novel. Doubtless, it would have been possible; the story clocked in at 34k words, after all. It’s hardly a short story at that length and is leaning heavily toward novel area.

For those of you unfamiliar with what constitutes a short story versus what constitutes a novel let me assure you that there are rules. No one completely agrees on those rules, but there are rules. I tend to follow the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s regulations for its Nebula award categories.

  • Short Story – Under 7,500 words
  • Novelette – 7,500 to 17,500 words
  • Novella – 17,500 words to 40,000 words
  • Novel – Over 40,000 words

Based on their rules, The Clock Man is heading toward the top end of the Novella category. Could I have eked out another 6k words in that story? Sure. Would I have published it as a stand-alone novel at 40,001 words? Probably not. You see, there’s an expectation of length among readers and, no matter what SFFWA thinks, most people consider a novel to start at about 60k-70k words. In case you’re wondering, the total word count of all eight stories in The Clock Man is about 110k.

To put those numbers into pages, the general rule of thumb is 250-300 words to a page. Obviously, this is variable based on page dimensions and type size and text density. Heck, even the typeface can change the word/page count, but 250-300 words per page is the industry standard. That means a 60k word book would be around 240-ish pages and a 70k word book bout would be around 280-ish pages. A 40k novel would only be 160 or so pages. Most readers want the longer books, so I would have had to add around 30k words to that story to put it in the realm of what’s commonly accepted as a novel.

Adding 26k-36k words to The Clock Man wouldn’t have made it any better and would probably have damaged the tale with unnecessary bloat. In my opinion, it was exactly as long as it needed to be. It told the tale of Crow and Chan and set things up for what will become a full-length novel tentatively titled Greetings From Sunny Aluna.

It’s funny; I’ve got the title picked out for a book I haven’t even started writing yet, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out a title for Henchmen 3 and that sucker’s about half written now. BTW, trust me, Henchmen 3 is going to be epic. It’ll tell the tale of Steven coming to grips with being a god and continue with the bad guys from Arise and even loop in some of the missing bits from Henchmen.

H3nchm3nComicAd1

But I digress. This post was supposed to be about a refresh on the look and feel of The Clock Man, not how awesome Henchmen 3 (of 4, in case you’re wondering) is going to be.

It’s going to be awesome, though.

So, anyway. I was working on a new Twitter ad for The Clock Man and something about that ad just freakin’ clicked. The ad in question is at the top of this post. I can’t exactly explain what I liked about it, but I just had to see how it would look as a book cover. A bit of tweaking later and I came up with the first cut and posted on IASD‘s Facebook group page. A few people and I went back and forth and the next thing I know, I’ve got this:

ClockManR2

Like I said: something about it just clicked. The original is on my Facebook author page if you ever want to see it. The end result is I accidentally redesigned the cover for The Clock Man. It’s not that I was disappointed with the original cover, I still like it. But, let’s face facts here, that new cover POPS like a mofo. Does it capture the feel of the book – or even the story? Kind of. But this is a collection of stories that are only somewhat interconnected so it’s difficult to pick a single image to capture the theme.

In a way, the dragon works as well as anything else.

Now, the technical notes:

The background was hand built in Inkscape. The image is from Vectorstock (drawn by pathique). The font is Akashi. The whole piece was assembled in Inkscape and I used GIMP to do some final modifications like resizing to keep the edges clean.

I find graphic design to be a good way to relax in a way that writing isn’t. I guess it uses a different part of my brain. If you ever find yourself with some free time and an idea, try it out. You might just create something cool.

Just as a side note, I do custom cover design. Drop me a line if you’re interested.

Have you ever redesigned one of your covers because you were bored?