Road to the Self-Published Author – Part IV

A little over a week has gone by since my last segment, so I thought I’d take a brief break from editing to share some more insights.

Being ‘indie’ seems to be a big thing right now, whether you follow the game industry, the book market, the music scene… everywhere you look people are finding ways to circumvent the traditional path to publication. An obvious boon to this is that you maintain more control over your intellectual property.

The con is that it also means much more work for you. Now you aren’t just the writer or designer; now you’re the publicist, the artist, the receptionist, the copywriter, the editor… and so I found myself working on the cover for my wife’s upcoming book, Through the Eyes of a Stranger: Beyond This Life. Mind you I’ve dabbled very little in graphic design. I only knew some of the basic principles of the software, and recognized book covers I liked from those I didn’t.

The first thing I did was some research: My wife had wanted the image of the phoenix from her story to grace the cover of the book, which meant with something bright and fiery on it that we would probably get the best contrast from a dark background. So I searched for design tips relating to the use of black, and one of the results I got pointed to this.

The author explains how nothing in real life is pure black – its reflecting some light, often tinted by those reflections or even the source light itself (which is rarely pure white). The most helpful bit was the array of web interfaces I would ordinarily consider black, and just how gray they appear when contrasted against the pure sample.

If I hadn’t come across this, I would have likely dropped a background of pure, unadulterated black on the book cover. And something would have looked ‘off,’ would have ‘popped.’ Chances are I may have never determined what that was.

Incidentally, for my cover art project I used Adobe Photoshop Elements, which came bundled with my Wacom tablet many moons ago. At first it seems to lack a lot of – well, elements had by the full Photoshop suite, but at a ridiculously small fraction of the price (in my case, free with my $99 tablet) and considering the number of 3rd party add-ons available for it, this software actually has a lot of power in the hands of an amateur like me.

If you want to see the final version of the cover art, you can check it out on Facebook or abstramification.

~ Meredith Purk