“A blank page is God’s way of showing you how hard it is to be God.” –anonymous
It took ten long years to go from collecting rejection letters to the letter you see below:
And believe me, that letter was a long time coming. Giving up was easy. And many times I really wanted to. But I knew that going through the rest of my life knowing that I gave up would be one of the hardest things I would ever have to do. So instead I kept going. I learned to write, not just better, not just to tell a story, but for myself. I had dedicated too much of my time and education just to give up and walk away.
However, I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t have doubts, or second guesses and of course, the dreaded writer’s block. I read books, blogs, talked to authors, attended the occasional lecture and all of those things were well and good but I knew that I would need something more concrete to keep me going. So going off the advice of a friend, he told me that I should design my own book cover. A physical object made by me and done my own way.
I know many of you will probably find something online, some beautiful or interesting picture of anything, mess around with it and eureka! You got a book cover. If you’re self publishing, it’s the route you’d probably have to take regardless. But from a personal standpoint, in order to give it a personal touch I suggest you take the picture yourself. I know most phones double as cameras nowadays, and all of them connect to the computer in someway and/or the internet directly so this part should be easy. The picture could be of anything; Plants, animals, people, scenery or even multiple pictures if you’re thinking of doing a collage. Take 10 pictures or a 100 hundred. The important part is that you take them.
Here’s a picture I took a few years back:
Yes, that is my hat along with my playing cards, my throwing star, my goggles, my lighter all of which were on top of my blue bed sheets. I took at least 20 photos before deciding on the picture above.
The next step is editing. Lucky for me I had already thought of this step. I have Adobe Photoshop on my computer however, ‘simple’ was the angle I was going for. I needed something a little more tuned to my steampunk nature. So I used this iPhone app called Steampunk Photo Tada! I had already been using the app for some time to manipulate photos of my friends and family as well as pictures that have caught my attention. The app allows you change the picture’s border, age it, add a sepia tone, watermarks, fog, ink blots and letter marks and other things to give it that old ‘vintage’ look. I got the app on sale for $1.99 at the iPhone app store. But that was then. I’m not sure what the price is now. It might be cheaper.
After manipulating the picture over and over I finally got this:
I aged my picture, changed the border as well as the lighting and other things and gave it a nice clockwork watermark.
When I was satisfied with that, I went to the last step. At this moment most would jump straight to Adobe Photoshop, finish it up and let that be that. Not me. I went to Microsoft PowerPoint where I have a little easier time manipulating the fonts as well as their placement. For those of you more familiar with Photoshop, by all means, use it. Just make sure you use a program that can add font and allows you to save projects into pictures.
If your standard default fonts just aren’t doing it for you, there’s website called: http://simplythebest.net/fonts/
They have an excellent collection to chose from. Keep in mind that while some are free use items, most are not. So if you plan to go public with your cover, make sure there is nothing copy written, otherwise you’ll have bigger problems than writer’s block.
After playing around for a while I finally got this:
I changed the brightness and the contrast to give my image some weight and voila! I had a temporary book cover. That image above was what got me through months of writing, writing query letters, collecting rejection letters and waiting for Sharon, my agent, to find me a publisher. I made several posters with it, I used it as a wallpaper for my iPhone and my laptop. I even tried to make a temporary dust jacket out of it, but it just looked silly. I did however use it as a cover whenever I printed out a hard copy for myself.
After jumping through several hoops and hurdles Tracey, my publisher was kind enough to have this sent to me:
While I still loved my original cover, this one had a professional quality to it. That and my font was borrowed from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Plus there’s always something to be said about having a beautiful woman on the cover. Although taking a picture of a beautiful woman was certainly an option for me, my top hat was cheaper, faster and easier to work with.
If you wish to make your own book covers, I suggest studying your favorite book covers and doing your best to emulate them as much as possible. Remember, in the writing world, most people do judge a book by it’s cover. So if you can’t make a cover that’ll inspire you to write, how do you expect your story to inspire readers to read?
With my first cover helping me reach the promised land I decided to make it a tradition of sorts whenever I wrote a new book. I plan to write 6 books for the Curse Breaker Series and to let you in on a little secret, I’m already writing the rough draft of book 4. Book 2 is in the late editing stage and Book 3 still needs some polishing up on its rough draft. Now, before writing any book, but only after completing an outline I was satisfied with, I would create a book cover for myself. And whenever I was feeling lazy or tired or blocked, I would simply look at the picture, stop making excuses and continue writing.
So for those of you who are wondering about the future of Berley Kerr, the writer, allow me to share something with you.
These were the book covers I made for myself following the first one. I will not reveal the names I have planned for the future books of the Curse Breaker Series but I will tell you this, those images have gotten me this far and I plan to continue this tradition well into the future, even outside of Curse Breaker. Don’t worry, I’ll reveal the name of Book 2 in a few months. But until then this writer is allowed to keep some secrets. 😉