Tag Archives: cover art

More POD Issues from CreateSpace

16 Sep

I’m back in that lovely self-publishing shenanigans hole again.

Continue reading

STATE MACHINE cover reveal

27 Mar
Another amazing cover by Rose Loughran (http://www.redmoonrising.org/)

Another amazing cover by Rose Loughran (http://www.redmoonrising.org/)

Coming mid-May!

Neverending List of Things to Do, March Edition

2 Mar

It’s Monday! I’m paying bills! I’m organizing my schedule! I’m drawing pictures of penises in tiny hats happy kittens playing with bits of string. Let’s throw some of these deadlines out there and see where they stick:

Novels & Stories

The soft release date for STATE MACHINE, the third Rachel Peng book, is on or around May 4th. I’ll do a firm release date when the cover art is finalized.

The soft release date for GREEK KEY, the first Hope Blackwell book, is on or around June 15th.

It’s looking like the third tier on my Patreon will be met sometime within the next few months, so after I get the Kickstarter nailed down, I’ll start working on Joshsmut again.

I have a story about Ami the Assassin out on spec to a sci-fi publisher. I should hear back within the next month whether they’ll take it. If they pass, I’ll put it up for sale in the store.

Kickstarter

This thing, guys, this thing… I don’t even…

LEAGUE NIGHT and COME BOWLING WITH ME have already been sent out. Backers who bought the challenge coins (and nothing else) have already received them.

As for the rest… Okay, I need to speak generally here, as I have prepaid a Supplier and don’t want what I say to backfire on me (read: Sucker! Your money is MINE FOREVER), but there is a certain level of irony to needing to take out a loan to finish fulfilling a Kickstarter. There’s yet another level of irony to paying a Supplier to do work that you don’t have the time or skill to do yourself, but they do it so poorly that you then have to do it yourself anyhow. I’m drawing a second mini-comic for all backers who also bought a copy of ZOO STORY as an apology for the delay.

I’m aiming to have the audiobook of DIGITAL DIVIDE finished and shipped to backers before the third Rachel Peng book hits, so this will be on or around May 1st.

As for final product shipping, we’re headed back to the studio soon to finish recording MAKER SPACE. Once I’ve completed the digital edits, I can put everything in the mail and ship it all out. I don’t have a firm deadline on when this will happen.

Giveaways

GIMME BOOK 2014 is over, and all books have been shipped. Except for the person who sent me this:

If you sent me this, please email or message me. I have your book.

If you sent me this, please email or message me. You won, but I need your address as I still have your book.

 

Patreon

I’m thinking of changing the fourth tier from “Get rid of ads on the website” to “Make the Wedding Story.” I’ve had the script Pat and Hope’s wedding finished for years, and I’ve never had the time to draw it. I’d give this project priority status in the Neverending Queue if the fourth tier is met.

Also, my ad company changed hands recently, and they’ve stopped a lot of the nonsense that made me want to ditch them. They’ve added an auto-report feature where I can report a problematic ad and it’s removed immediately. If you ever see any ads with malware or are triggering (e.g.: sexist, racist, etc.), let me know and I can get them pulled.

Disasterhouse

This blog will begin updating soon, as: (1) we’ve done the math, and we’ve accepted that we’re trapped in this Amityville horror and can’t afford to move; and (2) the financial cost of the foundation repairs we’re going to do this month would buy a very nice car. We’re talking a fine German engineering level of “nice”.

It’s March

I approve. I am in favor of Spring.

Never-Ending List of Things to Do, September Edition

5 Sep

Planning out the next couple of months, and thought you might like a glimpse of the schedule.

Art Projects

I try to do comic-related charitable donations, and this year I’m redoing the Mangina Kaiju slapdash art for a print. I thought long and hard about which charity should get the donations. Ideally, it’d be a women’s-centered organization, but there’s this thing called the Internet in which every single decision you make is dissected down to its bones and found lacking, and I didn’t want to promote any Stupid (e.g.: implying women are monsters, implying men are monsters, implying the female reproductive system shall rise from the sea and throttle us all and aaaaaah!). So all proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association, which is a cause near and dear to my heart. Fuck Alzheimer’s.

Also, Halloween is coming up. I try to do some sort of art pinup. This year, I’m thinking some members of the comic’s cast dressed as characters from Penny Dreadful, but I’m still open to suggestions.

Novels

The third Rachel Peng novel has a title, and the cover art is in draft stage.

I’m still playing around with the idea of releasing a Hope Blackwell novel at the same time. These books would deal with one or two of the same plot elements and events would align chronologically, but from the perspectives of Rachel (no ghosts) and Hope (all of the ghosts, oh God so many ghosts). With Patreon as a supplemental salary, it is more likely that I can afford to take the time to do this than it was a few months ago. However, this would push the release of both books back until mid-2015.

Patreon

Beyond awesome. Simply beyond awesome. I’m eating so much crow about this, and it is delicious crow! You were right, I was wrong, and I hope you’re happy!

Now, what to do with all of these collected dick jokes? I want to release the older, stale ones that Patreon supporters have already seen to encourage newcomers to become supporters themselves. I’m leaning towards a Tumblr account that receives a huge batch update of dick jokes every three months or so, but I’m open to suggestions. My rationale for using a Tumblr is that it’s got zero overhead, requires minimum time investment, and gets massive traffic and reblogs. Any other ideas?

Kickstarter

Digital Divide is done, but Maker Space is still in recording phase. Summer was a rough time for my family, and also for the woman who is doing the reading for the audiobooks. We’re likely going to resume recording on Maker Space later this month.

I’m arting all of the arts on the other Kickstarter gifts, so hopefully I can get these out in one large push.

Giveaways

Several generous people purchased extra copies of Digital Divide and Maker Space and told me to donate these to readers in need. I’d like to do something nice, but the usual “Retweet this to be entered in my contest!” is both annoying and dull. How about a Post-It contest? Write GIMME BOOK! on a Post-It and send in a photograph of where you stuck it… I dunno. That’s the best I’ve got right now.

I Know I’m Forgetting Something

I know I’m forgetting something.

I’m Totally Forgetting Something

Yeah, I’m aware.

Seriously, This Is Going To Bug Me All Day

I’m just gonna hit Publish now, okay?

Self-publishing Cover Shenanigans

27 Jul
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAW!

If you say “shenanigans” three times in the mirror, Brian Cox will appear and ask you why he hasn’t won an Oscar.

This is a post about self-publishing, and why Maker Space has been available since March in ebook form but took until Thursday to finally become available as an actual book.

I’m aware that some of you reading this are traditionally published authors (hi Jean!), and I am assuming that some of you are self-published (are author-published, practice artisinal publishing, engage in the craft of putting out your own writing…Ugh. Some days you just want to hit the terminology with a baseball bat and use what’s left of the pulpy mess when you’re done.). If you keep up with the publishing community in any way, you’re aware there is some controversy over which method of publishing best benefits the author. This argument can be boiled down to money and control.

Money is a big one. Royalties, obviously, but there’s also who foots the final cost of the product. Self-publishing is not cheap. Rephrase: self-publishing where the end result is a quality product is not cheap. (If you have not yet searched for “dinosaur erotica” on Amazon, please do so.*) If you pursue traditional publishing, the publisher is responsible for taking your manuscript and creating a finished product. They are also responsible for advertising, shipping, and the other elements of successful books.

At first blush, the issue of control sounds fairly simple. It asks: who maintains control over your work? If you are traditionally published, you turn over control of your work when you submit the finished manuscript. Elements of control, such as who holds the copyright and when it reverts to you, are (should be) established in your contract. The publisher is also responsible for advertising, shipping, and… Yes. That. Money and control are entwined.

I come from webcomics, and I’ve been putting out content for the better part of a decade. This has worked out pretty well for me, because I’m one of those weirdos who enjoys the process of taking my product from raw, unfinished ideas and shepherding them through the final stages. If you just did that thing where you said, “control freak” and pretended to hide it behind a cough? Thank you! When you’re responsible for putting out your own content, you are your own quality control expert, and nobody’s going to buy your shit if it looks like shit.

There are so many challenges/problems with this I can’t even, by the way. The learning curve is steep and expensive and frustrating… There are products you’re so excited to make that you forget to assess costs (case in point: the saga of the Speedy plush). There are designs you send to press and then, years later, your husband takes That One Shirt out of the closet and now you’re embarrassed that he’d still consider wearing it. To do yardwork! So, yeah, it can be horrible, and if you’re not careful, you stand a very good chance of losing a lot of money on products that won’t sell.

MAKER SPACE was the Jefferson Memorial. Jefferson was a maker, so this seemed appropriate.

MAKER SPACE was the Jefferson Memorial. Jefferson was a maker, so this seemed appropriate.

But it also can be wonderful, as you get more flexibility to work within the scope of your own ideas. The Rachel Peng novels were intended as a series. Seven books, with one overarching plot driving events. With that in mind, I wanted a single thematic cover design to carry over from book to book, so they’d look like a set when sitting on a shelf. Rose Loughran, who does the webcomic Red Moon Rising, is the cover artist: each book features a different landmark from Washington, D.C. The jacket design reflects the colors in Rose’s landscape painting. DIGITAL DIVIDE was all reds and golds, with MAKER SPACE in blues, purples, and grays.

Rose does the painting for the cover art, but I do content, text layout, and everything else. The cover layout for DIGITAL DIVIDE was delicious cake, and I had no serious problems getting this first book through printing. Since MAKER SPACE was the same size and on the same thematic template, I didn’t think it would be different.

/casts summon problems

I use CreateSpace as my printer. It’s owned and operated by Amazon, so do with that what you will: hopefully, all self-publishers–heck, let’s go with absolutely everybody–is aware that using Amazon and its affiliates comes with baggage. Most of this baggage is tiny and maneuverable and needs very little management within the day-to-day of your busy schedule… but then there’s that steamer trunk that’s about to crush your grandma and her local bookstore. I’ve got my reasons for using it, and one of those is that CreateSpace generates high-quality books at a reasonable price. Copies fresh off of the CreateSpace press are as sturdy as anything you’d receive from a traditional printing press, and the cover resolution is high. My husband has a loupe left over from when he used to work in printing which we use to check for DPI resolution on my products, and CreateSpace does right by Rose’s paintings.

So, right before MAKER SPACE was supposed to hit, I submit the cover to CreateSpace and order a proof copy. Cue shenanigans.

AAAAAAAAAW!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAW!

I think I ordered eight proofs in total over four months. Each time I got the copy back, there was something wrong with the cover. The color printed dark: the first two versions were purple-blue blobs. After tinkering to lighten it up, some of the colors didn’t match each other. And when I finally got the colors right, the whole cover had somehow jumped a quarter-inch to the left and the spine was misaligned.

These proofs weren’t free, by the way. CreateSpace charges me per item, same as you. I get a discount because it’s my content, but the endless proof-chain did set me back close to $70**. Now, if I were published by a traditional printer, I would have had a nice box of ARCs shipped to me prior to publication, free of charge and to distribute as I want. But I wouldn’t have had any say whatsoever in choosing the cover art, or its design, or the text on the back, or the pull quotes for the cover… Easier, less expensive (for me)? Definitely!

And I would have felt as though I had been excluded from part of the process.

Such exclusion is arguably a good thing. I might enjoy controlling the development of a product, but that doesn’t mean I’ve got specialized skills in cover design, font selection, or so on. I think the final layout of the book cover is solid; it could probably be better. In ten years, I might look back on the Rachel Peng covers like those ratty old embarrassing tee shirts in the back of the closet.

Today? I enjoy what I do and how I do it, and I’m better at it than when I started. Life’s a process, too.

 

*I am not suggesting that all dinosaur erotica is of terrible quality. I am merely saying that I have judged these books by their hastily Photoshopped covers, and by titles such as Turned Gay by Dinosaurs.

**Always figure in shipping and handling. Always.

MAKER SPACE cover preview

15 Nov

November has been a fast-moving month. MAKER SPACE is nearly finished, and is entering the edit/proof phases. In the meantime, I’ve been working with Rose Loughran, the cover artist for the Rachel Peng books. Rose and I have been kicking designs around since July. I knew the feature image for this cover would be the Jefferson Memorial at night: the design and the colors of that building are gorgeous, plus Jefferson can be considered a maker himself.

Jefferson Memorial, twilight. Tell me you don't want to pour those colors into a tub and soak in them.

Jefferson Memorial, twilight. Tell me you don’t want to pour those colors into a tub and soak in them.

So that was the starting point, and then came the months of tweaking.

First roughs of memorial.

First roughs of memorial.

We decided the piece needed an anchor for visual weight, so I found an old wrought-iron lamp post and Rose penciled it in.

We decided the piece needed an anchor for visual weight, so I found an old wrought-iron lamp post and Rose penciled it in.

Lamp repositioned to spread out the composition.

Lamp repositioned to spread out the composition.

One of the nicest features of the DIGITAL DIVIDE cover art was the light blending through the main text, so Rose added a wall for another peekaboo lighting option.

One of the nicest features of the DIGITAL DIVIDE cover art was the light blending through the main text, so Rose added a wall for another peekaboo lighting option.

Final object placement, final color scheme. Room for text at top and bottom. Looks great, right?

Final object placement, final color scheme. Room for text at top and bottom. Looks great, right?

And the final art came in today. Don’t get fluffy about the quality of the text! It’s pre-tweaking and is there for placement purposes only.

More tweaks are needed to the text (kerning, effects, and I despise that letter K), but the art is amazing.

More tweaks are needed to the text (kerning, effects, and I despise that letter K), but the art is amazing. There’s even room for a publicity pull quote in the open space above the memorial!

I couldn’t be more pleased with Rose’s work. This cover is going to look fantastic in print. The best part of these novels is this end phase where the pieces make a whole.