Monday, December 30, 2013

Working on a Cover Image

According to Mark Coker's Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, a good cover image can be the difference between a successful book and a so-so book.

The Smashwords Blog made an interview of R.L Mathewson (RLM) back in July 12, 2012 and they talked about her experiences with writing and selling romance books. One of her books, Playing for Keeps, came out in February 2012. For more than four months her sales were only a few copies per day (personally, if that happened to me, I'd be ecstatic). Around the end of May, she changed her book cover and just over a week later, her sales began to increase. About a month later, her sales skyrocketed.

Image copied with permission from the Smashwords blog entry

Like RLM, I'm thinking of making my own covers. Not because I can but because I can't afford the price of having someone make one for me. If I can find someone to make my cover for a song (I can sing but I'm no Josh Groban), I'd have it done. RLM said she did it by taking several images and using Photoshop—or some other image editing software—to mash them all together.

So, why am I not doing the same? Why not just lift photos from the internet and edit them to come up with a cover? For free? I'm almost sure there are people who do it that way. The problem with doing it is that I might be committing copyright infringement.

A lot of photos on the internet are free for the taking and a lot are owned by people who don't want you to use them...or expect you to pay for using them. My problem is: 1.) I can't tell if it's free or not. 2.) If it's not free, I can't afford to pay for it. Then again, there are people who don't want you using their pictures, period.

For Legend of the Moon, I've been looking for two particular pictures that I want to edit and put together. One is a large moon, and the other is the silhouette of a knight who would be standing in front of the moon. His pose had to be simple but suggestive of a strong and confident man who had gone through trials and triumphed.

I found them but they're not free and they're on two different image-selling websites. I checked out the sites and discovered they don't sell images per piece. You sign up for a year's membership and you can download a fixed number of pictures. Since the pictures are on two separate websites, I'm going to be purchasing about a dozen images, of which I only need two. And the membership is not cheap (at least for me).

So, what am I going to do?

For the moon, I don't expect much difficulty in finding a free photo. The knight is going to be a bit more problematic. I had a particular pose in mind and finding the image I need has been a challenge.

I came up with the idea of buying an action figure, modify, and dress him up to look like a knight. If I can find a knight action figure, that would be better. I saw one of Ironman and was trying to decide if he might be good enough when my wife found another figure that seemed better. It was Anakin Skywalker.

When I first saw him, he looked perfect. The pose was correct, his head could turn left or right, and his long hair seemed suggestive of a knight. His light saber was extended, which seemed easy to modify to make it look like a regular sword. When I opened up the box, however, I noticed something.

He had a glove on his right hand but not on his left. I watched the movie but don't remember noticing his fashion statement. He also seemed too thin. I'm not putting sheet armor on him, just make him look like he's wearing chain mail and a sword. He needs to look bulkier and wearing large gloves. I couldn't find anything more suitable, however, so I took him home. I need your body, Anakin. (",)

How to fix him up? It's a technique that a lot of people have done at least once in their lives, maybe during their school days. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. It's called papier-mache and it seems simple enough.

Since I need a silhouette, I'm going to paint him completely black. That means the finished product doesn't need to be perfect. Just good enough to take a picture of. I'm trying to decide if I need to trim his left arm sleeve so that I could mold a glove onto it.

Once the figure is completed and painted, I'm going to put him in front of a white background and take his picture. I might need to do a little editing work later but it should be easy since it's black and white.

When I finish changing Anakin Skywalker into Sir John, I'll make another post along with pictures. 'Wish me luck. (",)

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