Category Archives: cover art

Five Good Things

If you’ve been keeping up with my Facebook page, you’ll know I’m neck deep re-working the outline for my Work In Progress. I suffered a round of depression when I calculated that Act 1 needs to go on an extreme diet or I’ll end up with a 1200+ page doorstop, just for the first book! Using a physical plot board rather than the computer screen has helped a lot. It’s much easier to see what’s going on and what’s missing. (Don’t worry, Beloved Scrivener [http://www.literatureandlatte.com], I still love you!) I’ve used the board to reorganize my Scrivener files and I’m rarin’ to go!
In the meantime, I want to share with you some fun news and articles from people who are not suffering Writer’s Embarrassment.
“HEA is thrilled to unveil the cover of Fierce: Sixteen Authors of Fantasy, a multiauthor boxed set that features 16 of the most entrancing high fantasy reads from Mercedes Lackey, Michael Manning, K.F. Breene, Morgan Rice, Michael J. Ploof, Daniel Arenson, Kate Sparkes, David Adams, Amy Raby, C. Greenwood, David Dalglish, K.J. Colt, Shae Ford, Endi Webb, Michael Wallace and Terah Edun.”
Game Of Thrones: PowerPoint Edition
Stock shapes in PowerPoint take fantasy to a new level.
Hardback Editions of Thread Slivers and Thread Strands
My friend Leeland Artra is about to bring his books to the world as both hardbacks and mass-media paperbacks. And his video is pretty fun to watch, too.
Dragon Sketch by HELMUTTT on DeviantART
“This is just a quick sketch of a dragon I did. really nothing special and actually quite boring.” Methinks he doth protest too much.
Joe Abercrombie’s Fantasy Land
“With the second book in his YA-flavoured Shattered Sea trilogy out this month – featuring a quote from none other than Game Of Thrones’ George RR Martin on the front – novelist Joe Abercrombie talks to Vision about why fantasy is just as adept as literary fiction in reflecting the world in the 21st century.”
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What fascinating fantasy have you seen on the ‘net recently? Comment below, and share this post in your Google+ groups.

Cover Candy #2

I love great book covers. I have a digital collection that I go through every now and then, admiring and deciphering what it is about each that particularly intrigues or pleases me. Some days the walk through my virtual gallery is for the simple desire to appreciate the artwork. On other days (especially when I’m contemplating the creation of a cover) I look through the collection to inspire ideas.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Book covers have to do a lot of work!
Aspiring authors, get this through your head. Cover art serves one purpose, and one purpose only, to get potential customers interested long enough to pick up the book to read the back cover blurb. In the internet age that means the thumb nail image needs to be interesting enough to click on. That’s what covers are for.
― Larry Correia
I will argue that cover art has another purpose: they’re for admiring, too. And they last longer than chocolate at my house. These are all quite different, and quite striking:
cover artist:  Larry Rostant
cover artist:  Alejandro Colucci
cover artist:  unknown
If you are interested in reading (and seeing) more about covers and graphics, try these posts:
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Please share YOUR favorite covers in the comments below!

Getting Graphic

The word “graphic” comes from a Greek word that means “writing, drawing.” Graphic representations are visual, symbolic, illustrative …  and written. Graphic descriptions are vivid, detailed, descriptive, illustrative. Do you see a connection here?

Authors who wants to sell their books (as I suppose most authors do) will draw more attention to themselves and their books if the package (author and books) is attractive.

I’ve talked before about what an important job book covers have. Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, points out that:

A book’s description is the “first and foremost concern” of the blogger and book reviewer known as “The Picky Girl.” Still, she thinks twice before accepting or buying a book with a bad (or cheap looking) cover. “I wonder what other areas lack quality and refinement,” she says. 

Like Picky Girl, Naomi Blackburn, one of the world’s top Goodreads reviewers, founder of the group The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book, and author of the business advice column The Author CEO, selects books based primarily on their description. But Blackburn, too, passes on books with bad covers. “If the cover seems to be nothing more than a catalog photograph with block lettering, I bypass it,” she says. “If the author didn’t care enough to dedicate time/effort to their cover, I wonder how much time they put into the book itself.”

Graphic designer and author C.L. Smith lists (and goes into detail about) some important guidelines in his article 14 Tips for Good Kindle Cover Design. These do not apply exclusively to Kindle/e-book covers. If you’re concerned with making that first good impression, it would be well worth your while to read the full article.

But wait! There’s more!

Your book may or may not be your first introduction to a potential reader. Your social media presence is important, too. It’s your cover, your first impression space. Do you have a good-looking icon/profile photo? Does your header/cover photo (the “graphic page title”) take advantage of the space to promote your brand or your books? Does it carry your logo or your tagline?

Identities with generic icons (Twitter’s “egg” anyone?) and/or headers produce the same question as books with low-quality covers: I wonder what other areas lack quality and refinement?

Can you imagine Target’s social media pages without the familiar red-and-white icon or heading? Apple without an apple? Coca-Cola without the bottle of coke and a smile? Toyota without their (okay, what IS that?) icon and “Let’s go places” tagline?

“A strong visual brand helps you connect with your community and effectively convey your brand’s personality.” (4 Ways Visual Design Can Improve Your Social Media Marketing, by Zach Kitschke via the Social Media Examiner)

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“Whatever our objectives are for marketing ourselves (establishing a reputation as an industry expert, selling a book we’ve written, or finding a new job are just a few ideas that might apply), our personal brand can help us familiarize our target audience with the facets of our character that make us an appealing investment.” (Many Platforms, One Voice: How to Maintain a Consistent Social Media Persona, by Steve Glauberman via the Content Marketing Institute)

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“Due to the rapid growth of social media, consumers are exposed to a barrage of Tweets, “Likes,” texts and messages on the Web and on their mobile devices. With the need to read or view images in seconds — as well as on smaller screens — graphic design plays an increasingly important role not only in building brand awareness and recognition but in merely attracting the user’s attention.” (The Importance of Graphic Design in Social Media by Elle Smith via Small Business Chron)

Look at social media pages.

Search for “images for social media headers.”

Think about your brand’s personality — What colors define it? Pick out a “brand font.” (Remember to make sure it’s commercially licensed and readable!) Choose a style (medieval? retro? futuristic? something else?).

Then what? Use them together every time you create new marketing materials. Consistency is important. It’s noticeable. When your particular brand appears across the internet, people will recognize you.

So if you’re not artistically talented (do your Photoshop or GIMP skills mimic the quality of your favorite book covers, social media headers, marketing materials?), where do you go?

There are loads of websites that design packages for you to use or custom-made graphics.

If you prefer doing it yourself, be sure the images you’re using are 1) legally licensed, 2) not popular stock images—you don’t want your cute-girl-with-a-ponytail showing up on a dozen other covers— and 3) following the 14 Tips for Good Kindle Cover Design.

Or, if you’re on a tight budget, you could look into hiring dirt cheap affordable freelancers from sites like Fiverr, FiverUp, GigBucks and the like. Caveat: be careful. Research the site, research the artist. Like any other business, you want to make sure they’re reliable.

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Do you pass over books with poorly done covers?

Do you ignore social media connections with generic graphics?

What do you struggle with as an author? Reader? 

A Drift of Quills comes together to deliver you something wonderfully fun and bookish: a bookshelf scavenger hunt!

Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt!

It’s the first Friday of a whole new year! Hello, and Happy New Year to You!

As usual for the first-Friday-of-the-month, A Drift of Quills comes together to deliver you something wonderfully bookish—and this time we’re doing a scavenger hunt!  You might have seen some others around the cyber world, but we decided to make up our own. We’re adventurous that way!

Rummaging through my bookshelves (both physical and digital) makes me feel like a dragon admiring its treasure. I have silver and gold, precious jewels, priceless collections of beautiful words at my very fingertips! The hardest part of this task? Getting sidetracked. I want to read this! No, this one! And that one, too! Oh, it’s been a long time since I’ve read <fill in the blank, there are lots of options>! I got so sidetracked, in fact, that it took me three attempts to collect the actual goodies.

All righty then! Into the trove!


A book with the letter “J”: I went with Jabberwocky, by Daniel Coleman. And—I confess, I haven’t read it yet! (So many choices to make in my TBR pile, so little time!) But the cover is purdy and the title appeals to me Have you read it?

A fantasy classic: I first read The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart when I was about twelve or thirteen years old. It was my mother’s fault, as so many of my early fictional excursions were. Fantasy, yes! Arthurian legend, yes! Naturally, I loved it.

A book with a dragon on the cover: So many choices …! After much dithering and asking my husband for his recommendation without any satisfaction, I finally settled on Wizard’s First Rule, by Terry Goodkind. I’ve read it a few times, but have yet to make it through the entire series because I’m still collecting the books in The Sword of Truth. (Oh, hey! Only two to go!) There are eleven in all. I should be so prolific!

The oldest book on my shelf: My copy of The Settlement Cook Book (The Way to a Man’s Heart), compiled by Mrs. Simon Kander, is the tenth edition, enlarge and revised and clearly not fantasy, printed in 1920. It belonged to my grandmother. It discusses Household Rules such as how to measure properly (Did you know that half a spoonful is obtained by dividing through the middle lengthwise?), balance rations, laying the table, the proper order in which to wash dishes, using a skewer to clean behind the sink pipes, airing a room, and making a home made fireless cooker. Hamburger used to be chopped beef. Please do not confuse the instructions for making soap with making soup. Truthfully, I’m a little afraid to touch the book. It’s in very delicate condition, but what a wonderful thing it is! I keep it in my library so it doesn’t get any more abused. Besides, my fireless cooker is a microwave oven!
A book with a shield on the cover: Oh, decisions! Decisions! It actually took some serious hunting, as most of the sword- or spear- or ax-waving heroes on my book covers didn’t have shields. Folly, I say! I also say that the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series by Tad Williams is my favorite series. Ever. I am looking for something to give it a run for the money, but so far no luck. So here it is, book two in the series, entitled To Green Angel Tower, Part 1. Love, love, love it. Also love the fantastic artwork by Michael Whelan.
A book with an animal in it: I give you Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, by Holly Black. Lots of animals, er, creatures, in this one. Beautifully done with notes and stories about each entry.
A cover with only words: I’ve seen and admired them when they’re clever and artistic, but do I have one? I don’t think The Chicago Manual of Style, 13th Edition, qualifies as either clever or artistic, but the book is stupendously useful, even if it is out of date. I’ve got all kinds of bookmarks sticking up out of it. Every author should have a copy (probably more recent, but I won’t criticize) and use it diligently!
A cover with gold lettering: Easy. I went with Hood, the first in the King Raven series by Stephen R. Lawhead, but I could have used all three of them. Minimalist design, beautiful, and a really good read. Besides, it’s Robin Hood! When I was tiny, my dear grandmother used to call me “Robin the Hood.” She was Polish, so perhaps something got a little funky with the translating, but I didn’t understand what a hood was back then. My older sister (and first scribe) kindly supplied me with a copy of The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire, written and illustrated by the eminent Howard Pyle. I’ve been a fan ever since.
A book written by an author with a common last name: So … how common is “common”? I have no Smiths or Joneses, but I have two different Whites on my shelf, so I went with one of them. As it happens, I have three books by E.B. White—and two copies of one of them (which equals a total of four items, in case you’re counting). Stuart Little is one of the earliest fantasies I read, or rather it was read to me. I loved reading time in elementary school!
A red colored book: There are quite a number of red books peering at me from my shelves. It was hard to choose! And while there were books that were more red, Cloud’s Rider by C.J. Cherryh is wonderful (and totally red on the spine and back!). It is the sequel to Rider at the Gate, which I’ve read but somehow do not (yet) won. Cherryh has a unique style to her writing, and sometimes it takes a bit to get into the rhythm, but I have been sucked in to her fantasy books without the slightest whimper.
As you can probably tell, my books are predominately filled with fantasy. I love fantasy, what can I say? Maybe I need to do a scavenger hunt that excludes the genre just to prove it! What do you think?
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PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker

The old year is behind us (and I cannot say I am sorry about that) and 2015 begins. What better way to move forward than to join my fellow Quills in a treasure hunt. Our search will take us through our book shelves. So, here goes!

A book with the letter “J” – This one is fairly easy—Jekyll and Hyde, by Robert Louis A Drift of Quills comes together to deliver you something wonderfully fun and bookish: a bookshelf scavenger hunt!Stevenson.  Oh yes, I know, the full name is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but most refer to it by its shortened name. This is a great read, showing …

(Read more!)

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KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story, Sanguis Dei and a poetry collection, Light and Dark
 
A Scavenger Hunt is fine for parties and kids in college. What we have here is a Scavenger Hunt involving books, and therefore, I deem it a Snark Hunt! Since I am often easily charmed with smiles and soap … I endeavored to find ONE book with all ten.
 
When that didn’t work … (Read More!)
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And that’s it for this week! We hope you enjoyed this journey into our libraries as much as we enjoyed scouring our bookshelves and ferreting out these little gems. As always, we love when you share your own finds. What’s your “Book with the letter “J””?

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Guest Post Cover Reveal: Vanna Smythe

Vanna Smythe’s Anniversary of the Veil series sports one lovely cover modified for each book, and I am delighted to be able to share this one with you as she gears up to release her new book. Forever Husband is the third and final installment in the series, and brings the story of Kae and Issa to a satisfying conclusion. While the book can be considered a standalone novel it is greatly enhanced by first reading the parts one and two of the series, Protector and Decision Maker.

Purdy, ain’t it? It looks so very elegant.

Links to the other books in the series:

Protector (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 1)
Decision Maker (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 2)

and to her blog:

Vanna Smythe, Fantasy Author

Cover Candy #01

Cover Candy #1

I’ve talked a little bit about book covers before, and how important they are as both a preview of the content and as a tool to catch the eye. A comment by a recent reviewer has me mulling over the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder—which makes the task of designing or choosing a book cover even more of a challenge. We’re all drawn to different colors, styles, and concepts, and we all draw our own assumptions from the things we see, whether right or wrong. What stands out to one person means little to the next. What we interpret one way, someone else perceives entirely differently. I truly admire those artists who can produce covers that delight and intrigue—and are true to the tale in detail and ambiance.

I plan to showcase covers often in the future, but today I want to share with you a few that meet the aforementioned criteria (as far as my own senses were concerned!):

Cover Candy #01: Exile's Gate Exile’s Gate, by C.J. Cherryh
(artwork by Michael Whelan)

Cover Candy #01: The Legend of Nightfall The Legend of Nightfall, by C.J. Cherryh (artwork by Jody A. Lee)

And in the Indie category:

Cover Candy #01: The Shadow Within
The Shadow Within, by Karen Hancock (artwork by Bill Graff)

What are some of your favorite covers that appeal to the eye and deliver exactly what they advertise? Please share in the comments!

Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

“As the Crow Flies” Wallpaper

Friends and fans of Crow, I have a treat for you today!
Are you lovin’ the cover of As the Crow Flies?
Then you’ll love getting a FREE wallpaper to decorate your computer!
We’re moving closer and closer to the date when the book will be available as a paperback edition. I’m so excited! I’ve been a busy little bee, proofing the final copy and setting up a virtual book tour to celebrate. There is a lot more work involved in that than I expected, but I am meeting some really awesome folks and learning new things. I also have a short story in the works slated to appear as part of a collaboration coming out this summer.
(Hint: Crow + Orcs = !!!)There are still slots open for the June 3-9 tour—I’d like to have at least two blog stops per day. If any of you bloggers can help Crow take flight, please jump over to the announcement post and sign up. The more, the merrier! I’m so grateful for the support I’m getting and for the opportunity to make new friends.
What an awesome, exciting experience…

Did I mention there will be a giveaway?
What other kinds of loot would you like to see?

Judging Book Covers

This always seems like a hot topic, particularly where it concerns independent publishing. We’re all told how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but, well, we do. It’s human instinct. At lightning speed, we associate things with what we see: pleasure, boredom, disgust, intrigue… If you see a plate full of brown, gooshy, lumpy something, what’s your first reaction? I’ll bet you don’t want to eat it. And if you see a book with a poor cover—too busy, text that is tiny or otherwise obscure, amateur photoshopping—your instincts go “ew” and you move on. (Unless you’re morbidly attracted to literary train-wrecks.) The thing is, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. And if an author doesn’t put some real care into that first view we get of his or her work, what does that indicate about the contents? If you’re going to put your book out in the world to “see how it does,” then don’t you want to give the very best chance of success possible?

Biba Pearce points out on Jane Friedman’s blog, “An ebook cover has an important job to do. Not only does it present your book to the world, but it also says a lot about you, the author. It can be a powerful selling and marketing tool, or it can damage your image as an author and lead to dismal sales.”

On his blog, “The Book Designer,” Joel Friedlander holds monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards, and  often adds valuable comments to the submissions. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer struggling to get a handle on what works and what doesn’t, this is a fantastic resource. Here’s a rundown of what he hopes to accomplish by running the awards (which come with a nice, shiny web badge for you to brag with if you win):

  • Have a look at a range of e-book cover designs
  • See what other self-publishers are doing with their e-book covers
  • Get inspiration for your own cover design efforts
  • Learn why some covers work better than others

I have a file on my computer where I stash pictures of book covers that especially appeal to me. It’s the first place I go for inspiration (not thievery) when it’s time to do a cover, and sometimes I go through it just because the artwork is so yummilicious to look at.

On “Author Solutions,” Keith Ogorek gives us Six Tips From Wicked Good Book Cover Designers:

  • Do your research.
  • Pay attention to your genre.
  • Pick a focal point.
  • Image matters. 
  • Check the thumbnail. 
  • Choose your colors carefully.

He provides a chart, too, to describe what colors communicate. Neato, mosquito.

This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share some of my favorite e-book covers. So, without further ado, here we go…
What do you think? What are some of your favorite book covers?

Cover Reveal: As the Crow Flies

I am so pleased to reveal the cover for my debut fantasy novel, As the Crow Flies. I loved making it the second time around as much as I did the first. The original design was one I made for NaNoWriMo. It included a stock item I wasn’t sure about, copyright-wise and although I liked the cover very much, it wasn’t quite right. This version feels much more appropriate to the story and looks much… cleaner.

I know a lot of authors announce their books months ahead of time—and I would like to, but I fear the date I would like to release it on (my birthday!) might be just a little unreasonable. Must be kind to beta readers… Stay tuned. It won’t be later than January 2013. Unless the world ends, which would just be really unfortunate for all of you who would miss out on the story. Although I have a couple of short stories available, it’s still sinking in that I really am about to publish a book. A real book!

In the meantime, can I ask you to please help me prepare for the big day?

The act of writing is an act of optimism. 
You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt it didn’t matter. 
• Edward Albee •
In the Mirror and Dragonlace are both available for the Kindle.

Lovely Review for “Dragonlace”

Dragonlace is a fun and humorous read, full of witty one-liners and rich, vivid details—enough so that I’d love to read more stories featuring Keeta in this fantasy world of dragons, wizards, knights and maidens. […] Lythgoe’s other short story, “In the Mirror,” has an equally artistic cover, and is on my reading list. As the Crow Flies, Lythgoe’s current work in progress, is on my reading radar as well; her blog describes her writing process as she works on this debut novel. I look forward to its release date.”

Thank you so much to the folks at The Indie Book Blog Database, and especially to Jenah, for the fantastic review! Take a look at the full review here.

What a way to make a gal’s day.