If you’re following this blog via my mailing list, you’ll know that I want to post different things, not just Greenland book stuff. So, fair warning, this is different, and it’s got nothing to do with Greenland.
This is your look away now warning. 🙂
Also, if you’ve been reading this blog since the start of November this year, you’ll know I was having problems with knowing what to write on SoMe, and I realised that if I had a hobby, for example, something to write about instead of the classic and boring buy my book, it would be advantageous. Well, this blog – revamped this November – is an attempt to do just that. I’ve got a few interests, and I’ll post about them every now and again, but as for a hobby… well, my hobby is part of my job, and this year – with a little help – I took it to the next level.
It’s Karl’s fault.
Karl Drinkwater is an indie author writing in various genres. We connected during the height of the pandemic and have maintained a steady correspondence since – no SoMe, just really really long emails. 🙂 Lots of those mails have been about artwork and how we can take our own cover art to that fabled next level.
I make my own book covers – with varying degrees of success. I also make my own maps, promotional images, and everything in between. I’ve used Photoshop since the early 2000s. Correction, I’ve scratched the surface of what Photoshop can do for over twenty years, but now, with Karl’s help, I have taken the next step.
In short, Karl introduced me to 3D art, and the use of 3D models, or assets, to create artwork for my books. I’ve done quite a few so far, and you might have seen them, including the omnibus editions for the Greenland Missing Persons series.
I’ve experimented with a tonne of science fiction covers, and need to do a tonne more for all the short stories I’ve been writing.
But the key thing is the creative freedom making my own covers allows.
Traditionally published authors have next to zero input in the cover design for their books. My own experience was limited to “signing off” on the cover a couple of hours before it went to print. Although, the Czech publisher was different. They listened, and removed the trees from the generic mountain they put on the cover of Seven Graves, One Winter.
No trees in Greenland. 🙂
But mostly, authors have no input.
I have commissioned artwork in the past, and worked with an artist to shape my vision of a steampunk robot, and it really helped having that robot in my head when writing the story. I have also bought so-called pre-made covers to which I added text. This can be really expensive, and without further promotion, an expensive cover alone does not guarantee sales.
But having the tools to create a scene from scratch – either to fit an existing story or to help shape a new one – is both fantastic and liberating for authors. You can really get into the details, like the pink fire axe from my novel End of the Line. Finding a black character in winter clothes holding a pink fire axe is, as you can imagine, quite an ask. But with 3D art it is totally possible.
Working on 3D art is, however, time-consuming, and there is a steep learning curve which may put off a lot of independent authors – and therein lies the market for pre-made art, and, for a substantial fee, commissioned art. Artwork is one of the things a traditionally published author might think the publisher is paying for, but the author is the one paying for it, and sometimes it is little more than a few stock images slapped together with a bit of text. If you read fantasy books you’ve might have come across a particularly generic female model in armour with a sword on the cover of several books including big name authors. Stock images are sold multiple times.
Where am I going with this?
Ah, yes, the hobby!
Talking around the subject of books. At least, that’s what I should be doing. But what I’m really doing is talking about independent publishing, the freedom it brings, and the deep creative dives one can take.
I’ve spent a lot of time indoors in 2021 – couldn’t leave the house anyway #covid19 – and as a result I’ve been developing this new hobby, and working on covers. Karl and I are ready for the next step, to create affordable pre-made covers for sale to independent authors like us, who don’t have the time to make covers themselves.
This should have been relatively simple, i.e. create a scene suited for eBook and paperback covers. My problem, however, has been letting go. Every time I create a scene, it’s like creating a character, and I can’t imagine selling the image – just once, not multiple times – and so I want to write the story. 🙂
I have to learn to let go.
The image at the top of this post is the first image I have created that I am ready to sell.
Either way, from writing stories, to creating the art to go with them, I really do think I have the best job in the world.
I’ll post more about our covers when Karl and I launch the website in 2022.