Now that I’ve finished The Twiller and sent it off to my editors, I’ve been working on designing the new cover for it. Cover design is one of the toughest parts of being an independent author, and actually takes a very long time, or a lot of money, or both. Many authors hire cover designers, and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a cover. As an indie, writing a novel is just the beginning, as I’m also responsible for editing, interior layout, cover design, formatting, and promotion (to name a few). I am fortunate to be pretty computer literate, so I can do most of those tasks on my own, although some, like editing, require some outside help since you always need a second (or third, or fourth) set of eyes. Having a quality cover is critically important (people can, and do, judge books by their covers every day), so I had to spend a great deal of time teaching myself Photoshop and creating something I could be proud of. I hope you are as pleased with the results as I am. 🙂
In designing the cover for The Twiller, I had a couple of challenges. One is that I wanted to maintain a consistent theme or “brand” for my books, where the new cover would be instantly recognizable to people who have read and enjoyed the first two novels — even if the cover is seen at a tiny thumbnail size. On the other hand, unlike my second novel, this book is not a sequel to the first two, but a different story and a different type of book: a fun, humorous adventure as opposed to an action-packed, cerebral story with underlying ethical themes. So I didn’t want to make the cover too similar to the first two, yet I still wanted to maintain some similarity. To that end, I kept the theme of using a phenomenal background pic of a nebula (courtesy of NASA), and kept the font color and placement of my name and the title the same, but I changed the title font to something more casual and appropriate, and added the graphic of the twiller, our title character. I think he adds a nice splash of color and serves as a whimsical element that helps differentiate the cover from the first two, gives a hint as to the humorous nature of the book, and helps readers visualize the title character. And he pops out quite nicely even on a small thumbnail-sized picture.
That brings me to my second challenge: designing the twiller graphic. While I had spent a lot of time getting proficient with text effects in Photoshop, and I mask my lack of artistic ability by using (literally) billion-dollar background images, now I had to actually draw something. The problem is: I can’t even draw stick figures. Seriously. Nonetheless, I persevered with Photoshop, and found that (fortunately) graphic design is much different than drawing freehand. And after many hours spent creating a 3-D cylinder, working with shading, global light sources, gradients, paths, beveling & embossing, outer glows, drop shadows, dozens of layers and masks, and more, I’m quite happy with the result.
Anyway, I am getting more and more excited by the day about the imminent release of The Twiller, which will almost certainly be released next month. So I wanted to share the new cover with you (larger pic here) and get your thoughts. It’s not 100% done (and I still need to work on the spine and back cover!), but I think it’s pretty close. I hope you like it — please let me know what you think in the comments!