Saturday, May 31, 2014

Behind The Covers

Love triangles can only end badly.

Last post, I unveiled my new covers. But more importantly, what lies behind those flowery covers? Flowery prose?

Nope. Hockey Is My Boyfriend presents one fantastical question. What if, when you were ready to settle down, you got to choose between the only two guys in your life you had loved?

As a reader, I hated those books that had two guys fighting for the heart of a heroine, but one was all rich and smarmy while the other was all handsome and virtuous. Because then it’s not really a choice is it? Every reader is yelling at the heroine to pick the good guy, and then she does. It’s not really a choice and its kind of boring.

So, when I wrote this story, I created two characters that were equally good matches for our spirited heroine. I’m not going to say anything about these guys right now, you can discover them for yourself and make your own choice. All in good time, my little pumpkins.

I am clearly someone who writes long. How the Cookie Crumbles was 147K words, to the delight of some readers and the consternation of others. And right now, Hockey Is My Boyfriend is weighing in at a scale-tipping 290K words! Phew.

So faced with the option of editing out half the book or dividing it up, I choose division. Hockey Is My Boyfriend is the story of Kelly Tanaka. She’s a regular person, but she does love hockey. She plays hockey, watches hockey, and fantasizes about hockey. (She fantasizes about playing high level hockey, not whatever you might have been thinking!) Not surprisingly, she ends up dating hockey players. Even though romance has never been her priority, she seems to end up with some pretty interesting guys. And theyre hot, if that sort of thing matters to you.

And it’s a long story because it spans a long period of time, from her first kiss to her last. Well, not her last kiss in that she dies or anything, just when she decides that this is the guy she’d like to kiss for the rest of her life. The series is divided into three individual stories, each of which has an ending, but not necessarily a happy one. Part One is the story of Kelly and her first love, Phil Davidson. Part Two is the story of Kelly and her second love, James Friesen. Part Three is about Kelly and her career. Oh, and also that little choice I mentioned.

I have finished my seventh millionth rewrite of Part One, and it’s now in the hands of my editor. After that, polishing, formatting, and publishing will follow in short order.

By the way, only the lovely Myan commented on those covers in the last post. So after taking her comments into consideration, I have redone the first cover. See how much power commenters have around here? You could have suggested I add sparkly rainbow unicorns and I would have redone the covers! Anyhoo, you can choose your favourite in the poll. (Apologies to everyone who tried to vote before, the Blogger polls are apparently not working right now. I added a new poll now.)

I still kinda like the new one, but the new "old" one looks good too. I could be swayed by a majority of readers. Or Myan voting multiple times for her choice. Like EA Sports and the cover of NHL15, whatever the results I maintain the final say. But, I'm listening to you. Really I am.

Option A
Option B

Monday, May 19, 2014

My massive cover reveal proves once more that I know nothing about hype

I seem to have been editing and re-editing my latest book for a lifetime. But in keeping with the tech idea that she who ships, wins—I’m going to stop striving for perfection and just get the book done. After all, it’s a trilogy, and I thought that the first book would be the easiest. But judging from my process so far, they’re all going to be hard, and the third one will be brutal.

But, I am getting stuff done. Today, I did the covers. If you couldn’t tell already, I do all my own covers. Yeah, I knew you could tell. But my zero-cost cover budgets work for me. I never have to stress out about sales, because one sale and I’m already making money. As long as you don’t count all the hours I spend on my books. Then I’m probably making less than the babysitter of a sweatshop worker.

At first, I did my covers to Kindle specifications, but then I noticed that my covers were all long and thin. As much as it may be my dream to be tall and thin, I think shorter, fatter book covers look better. Oh sorry, that should be height-challenged covers with a healthy BMI. Anyway, I changed the size this time out.

I am very interested in what makes good cover art. In my post on self-publishing, I think I mentioned this monthly e-book cover awards contest. While I would never have the guts to enter my covers in the contest, I learn a ton by reading the comments and using my own judgement.

One area I identified as a weakness was my fonts. I have a big ole crush on Georgia, and I use it all the time when I blog. So when it came time to for a title fonts, I turned to Georgia. It looks contemporary and fresh to me. But I've since learnt that you should not use any of the normal fonts on your computer for book titles. So, I searched around for a font I liked (free of course, since you know my zero budget) and I found a couple of great ones on FontSquirrel. The main title is in a sans serif that looks contemporary and it’s a lot fatter—I mean healthy-weighted—than Georgia, so more legible to readers when in a tiny thumbnail. Then for the subtitle, I chose a font that’s fun and light, which is what my books are. The font's name is Lobster! I love that.

For this project, I had to make three covers at once, so I needed a common theme for the visuals. I decided on flowers, for a few reasons. First off, I’ve seen some really nice flower book covers lately; they look intriguing and compelling to me. Secondly, flowers figure into my trilogy. My heroine, Kelly Tanaka, has a father who is a florist, she gets flowers at various points from various suitors, and someone even compares her to a flower. (Unless I edit that part out in my relentless process.) And thirdly, I love colour and flowers are tops in that department.

So, I started searching for flower images. I had a few ideas in mind, but what is available in my price range and what my imagination wants never match up. Eventually I found a few suitable images and starting applying my Photoshop skills to make them useable for my cover design. I like to maintain a look for my books, and that includes a hockey stick background, colourful titles, and an image suitable to the book. Again, the main intention is communication. I view my books as a little romance, a little chick lit, and a little hockey. Hopefully, that is what the covers communicate. Also, I wanted to point out that my cover backgrounds are white, but when I put them on Blogger, they turn grey. Not fifty shades, though. 

I experimented a lot with the covers. One great thing is that I can fool around with title names, since I'm the writer and the cover designer. I determined that a shorter title looked better with this font, so I tried some alternate titles and settled on this one. Photoshop is an unending source of frustration for me, but I’m improving all the time. I had someone helping me for a while, but he got fed up and pointed out that he was Googling the answers to all my dumb questions. So that’s what I do now. And I feel like I’m gaining a useful skill. (Photoshop, not Googling.) The real test will be when I can do something like Lift Cat.

Anyway I ended up with four covers. The first three are the ones I picked and the alternate one is the cake.  You can decide if you like the alternate better. Or you can tell me that I’m an idiot and my covers looked better before. But I don’t think so, if I were judging the e-book cover contest, I’d choose me. I may be a little biased though. And I do realize that I'm supposed to tease and reveal my covers when the books are launching, but I was so excited, I wanted to share them right away!

Coming up next, I’ll discuss what’s behind those covers.