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Ralph E Vaughan

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Registered: 12/01/12
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 28, 2017 3:29 PM   in response to: writerbn in response to: writerbn
 
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writerbn wrote:
Brad the wronger wrote:
In fact, there are some tricky parts to DIY brain surgery. It's not nearly as easy as what it seems. Boring holes in your skull with a perforator and then connecting those with a high speed craniotome would be the easy part. That could be done using a mirror. The hard part would be rooting around between sulci with pointy little instruments and using the CUSA.

And then if you sneezed at the wrong time, well...

The problem with doing mine is that I left my wedding ring inside. The wife wasn't too happy, to say the least...

Now every time I nod to agree with her, there's a distinct "clunk".


And you can honestly tell your wife she's always on your mind.
B.L. Alley

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Registered: 06/14/14
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 29, 2017 10:05 AM   in response to: Moshe Ben-Or in response to: Moshe Ben-Or
 
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I'm sure it seems like a bad idea when you're a minimum effort type of person, but I don't see the harm in taking a shot. If it doesn't work a professional is still an option for those with the budget for it. For those who can't afford a graphic artist, isn't it better to encourage them to try rather then tell them it can't be done?
If I had your attitude I wouldn't know how to rebuild a V8, replace a clutch, install cabinets, tile floors and counter-tops, install and maintain plumbing fixtures, install drywall, paint, build a coffee table, make a chair, bake a cheesecake, make my own chicken soup, landscape my yard, or stitch a bad wound when I have no access to a medical facility. Maybe it's just me, but I don't believe learning is never a bad thing, even if you still need help.
Perhaps I'm simply not as easily daunted having tackled large, critical tasks like wiring entire homes and office buildings myself or performed automotive service that must be done correctly to avoid failure. Creating a book cover that projects quality and generates interest is certainly an important key for publishing success, but no one is going to die if it isn't done by a graphic artist charging hundreds of dollars.
C. Gold

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Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 29, 2017 6:36 PM   in response to: George Kennedy in response to: George Kennedy
 
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I used MS Paint to create a cover but I wouldn't recommend it.
Things I require for a cover - layers. If it doesn't have separate layers for the text, you can't adjust the text once it's plopped down on the background image. Most annoying.
Anything else that allows you to do graphics things like blending, altering lighting, color adjustment, outline tracing, etc. can help make a cover look better.

So while you might be able to use Powerpoint to make a cover, I'd go with actual graphics software like Canva where the goal of the software is to create art rather than presentation slides.
B.L. Alley

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Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 29, 2017 7:31 PM   in response to: C. Gold in response to: C. Gold
 
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I created my very first book cover before I discovered layers. What a PITA, and a severe limitation (I always wondered why the Drop Shadow function was grayed out). I agree, layers are essential.
chris

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Registered: 09/26/14
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 30, 2017 1:49 AM   in response to: George Kennedy in response to: George Kennedy
 
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There are several free photo editing and graphics software programs available that I think would be preferable to Powerpoint.

I've used Paint.net, and Paint, both of which are free on the net, and very good for the price.

Good luck.
Moshe Ben-Or

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Registered: 12/28/15
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 30, 2017 6:39 PM   in response to: B.L. Alley in response to: B.L. Alley
 
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B.L. Alley wrote:
I'm sure it seems like a bad idea when you're a minimum effort type of person, but I don't see the harm in taking a shot. If it doesn't work a professional is still an option for those with the budget for it. For those who can't afford a graphic artist, isn't it better to encourage them to try rather then tell them it can't be done?
If I had your attitude I wouldn't know how to rebuild a V8, replace a clutch, install cabinets, tile floors and counter-tops, install and maintain plumbing fixtures, install drywall, paint, build a coffee table, make a chair, bake a cheesecake, make my own chicken soup, landscape my yard, or stitch a bad wound when I have no access to a medical facility. Maybe it's just me, but I don't believe learning is never a bad thing, even if you still need help.
Perhaps I'm simply not as easily daunted having tackled large, critical tasks like wiring entire homes and office buildings myself or performed automotive service that must be done correctly to avoid failure. Creating a book cover that projects quality and generates interest is certainly an important key for publishing success, but no one is going to die if it isn't done by a graphic artist charging hundreds of dollars.

Utter nonsense, from beginning to end. The key to success is focus on core competencies. Acquisition of new skills is balanced by the opportunity cost of the time spent on acquiring new skills. Some skills one can never acquire regardless of effort, whether for lack of talent, lack of intelligence, or any other factor. You can spend your time "learning" all you want. You will never paint like Raphael, do physics like Einstein or play ball like Michael Jordan. If you want to be a writer, well and good -- spend your darned time writing!

While learning is great in the abstract, wasting time on nonsense outside one's core competencies is the surest possible path to failure. I did not spend my time learning how to perfectly perform every task the men under my command had to perform. I spent my time finding the right men, placing them in the right positions, training them appropriately, and focusing on the big picture. This is why I brought back living men, and not piles of corpses.

My latest cover cost me $60. It works better at attracting my target audience than the previous cover, which did cost hundreds. The difference? My guidance.

When I started, I did not have a good picture of my target audience. Now I do. This affected the type of cover I wanted. In the meantime, instead of wasting my time learning how to draw a cover, which I will never be good at anyway for lack of talent, I spent my time determining my audience, focusing my advertising keywords, writing a sequel and, finally, looking for an appropriate artist to do the job.

While we are on the subject of covers, let me immediately put to rest your completely ridiculous lackadaisical attitude about covers. If you have the wrong cover, somebody is going to die. That somebody happens to be your book. The cover is the foundation of all your marketing efforts. Without a good cover, you could be the next Tolstoy, the next Strugatsky or the next Lem. No one will care or ever know. If your cover is wrong, your ads attract the wrong clicks, your book gets the wrong reviews from the wrong reviewers, everything that can go wrong goes wrong.

Wiring your house by yourself, messing with your own car or whatever, is fine if you have fire insurance, an uber account and other similar backup plans. But if you want to be serious about this fine hobby we call writing, do not take the same lackadaisical attitude to your cover that you have taken to your now-burned-out house and your now-broken car.
B.L. Alley

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Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 30, 2017 8:09 PM   in response to: Moshe Ben-Or in response to: Moshe Ben-Or
 
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Clearly the concept of a multi-skilled person seems like fantasy to you, but I assure you we are real. I've wired or rewired hundreds of houses and performed extensive rewiring of my own house as part of a total remodel (all done my me except the new carpet). No fires, and not a single mistake (a record I'm quite proud of). I don't recommend doing so even for those who consider themselves handy, but I was trained and worked as an electrician for a very long time. Additionally, I was raised to be generally self sufficient and encouraged to learn different skills. My father was a master mechanic and forced me to learn about cars and motorcycles by buying clunkers requiring extensive work. If I wanted to drive I had to put in the work repairing and restoring them, and his plan benefits me to this day. Not only were my vehicles never 'broken down' due to the work I performed, if they happened to develop a problem my knowledge and experience allowed me to handle those issues without hesitation.

My mother was an expert cook and made a point to teach me those skills, as well. That foundation instilled in me the motivation to learn as many skills as I could in a variety of fields. I took driver training including performance driving and was certified as a driving instructor and trainer at one time. I hold two appliance repair certificates from GE Appliances and hold a Universal HVAC Technician license. I am a Certified Electronic Technician and held a General Radiotelephone Operator license from the FCC upon completing my third go-around of college by graduating at the top of my class. I was a swimming pool technician certified in pool chemistry. And, of course, the skills I listed previously. I learned and used them personally and professionally and trained many others in most of those fields, encouraging the same high standard of quality I always demanded of myself.

While I do not consider myself an expert in any field because I am always open to learning more, I never attempt to apply any skill until I have gained sufficient knowledge and practice to do it properly. If I can't, I seek assistance, or have it done by someone who is qualified. You may notice a common theme among the skills I've learned; they are physical in nature. When my body failed me I was forced to quit my job as a commercial and service electrician. I had dabbled in computers, but not nearly enough to perform any computer=related job. That left my writing experience. I had taken classes in high school and college for English, literature, and creative writing and written many shorts. While still working I had finally tackled writing a novel as a side hobby but had become stuck, so I set it aside. Only after having the painfully boring free time did I return to the book and finish it. By then, sadly, I had depleted my financial resources and had nothing left for professional cover art. Since Graphic Artist was not among the skills I had acquired, I had to come up with creative methods to simulate what an artist might conjure for me and set forth learning 3D modeling and building on my limited knowledge of digital graphics. Yes, my early attempts were pretty bad, but they were learning experiences, and I've come a long way. Of course I do not consider myself an artist, nor would I presume to be good enough to sell my work. Ideal? No, but I believe I have achieved acceptable results considering I had no budget for artwork. Far better than what most authors are creating themselves, and even superior to covers for which a number of authors paid good money.

As for writing, I take that as seriously as every other skill I've learned. I haven't simply pecked out some nonsense and published it expecting to become wealthy. I told the stories I wanted to tell and took the time to make them original, interesting, and as technically accurate as possible for the genres. Over five novels I've had to research many topics including Little League rules and requirements, Mag-lev trains, military procedures, electro-hydrodynamic propulsion, quantum computing, quantum physics, childbirth, the atmosphere and geology of Titan, and the biology of mushrooms, rats, and chimpanzees. I pay attention to the tiniest details, including at which terminal a person will arrive when traveling from the Midwest to Orlando, and which type of Sam Adams beer is available on a particular flight. When my characters watch the full moon rise on a Monday in 2061, the Moon will actually be full on that date and rise at that time. I even studied different theories regarding interstellar travel, eventually inventing my own version based on quantum displacement and the Casimir effect. For my next book I'll be studying 19th Century London, Artificial Intelligence, and the biology and social behavior of Cephalopods.

You're fortunate to have the funds available to pay an artist. My failing physiology forced me to rely on my willingness to learn new skills if I wanted covers for my books that weren't simple text over a blank or stock-photograph background. Just because you can't wrap your head around the idea of possessing multiple, diverse skills doesn't give you the right to insult me or suggest I don't take each of them seriously. Every challenge I accept is done so with complete dedication.

Learning is NEVER a waste of time, and it's a shame you find the concept so distasteful. My education has been nothing short of enlightening, and useful to myself and my friends and family.
Moshe Ben-Or

Posts: 589
Registered: 12/28/15
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 30, 2017 11:00 PM   in response to: B.L. Alley in response to: B.L. Alley
 
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You have yourself admitted just now that you do not have the capacity to acquire certain skills, that acquisition of skills takes time, effort and often funds, and that your own initial results have been bad, while your final results are mediocre at best. Given that, and given the importance of a professional cover, the fact that you then sidetrack into listing your many jobs is mind boggling. Rest assured, you are not the only one who has done a wide variety of jobs, or acquired a wide variety of skills.

The point is not that multiple skills can be learned, but that there exist only so many hours in the day, and effort must be allocated where it will do the most good. A man may spend six months learning how to design a cover, or he may spend six months writing another book. Given that a decent cover can be had for $25, we are clearly not communicating here, so I'll leave things at that.
C. Gold

Posts: 1,051
Registered: 02/17/15
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 30, 2017 11:42 PM   in response to: B.L. Alley in response to: B.L. Alley
 
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I would like to add that I know how to wire light switches and ceiling lights (properly too, not hack jobs like some I've seen). I have built simple computers and even designed a CMOS circuit to do a traffic light for class. I've also rebuilt a carburetor and my hubby and I took apart his Trans am and reassembled it after getting the engine re-bored. It ran (astonished me too!). I know how to change oil and oil filters, change out spark plugs, and air filters. I kept my old Dodge Omni going by buying a user's manual and fixing things like hoses and such. Brake pads, brake fluid, done that too. What I wouldn't touch with a fifty foot pole though was struts or body work. Totally chicken about the struts and had no compression tool. I don't do any car stuff these days because I'm too old, and cars all have computers and require specialty parts to do anything. But old cars were very DIY-able and I had fun doing the work (except in the winter when it's cold.)

Learning all that was interesting to me, and I didn't mind spending the time and effort involved. Same with self-publishing. I want to learn as much as I can about all aspects of the business. Now, I don't have delusions of grandeur about being a cover designer. I know the basics of what makes a good cover, how to make it represent genre, and have read thousands (yes, thousands) of books so I know what catches the eye and what says don't buy. But as far as Frankensteining stock photos--I'm still at the basic stage there and may never become competent. And illustration is way out of my league as far as skill goes. So, I hire a designer with PROVEN quality from kboards.com for my main story novels, while creating my own covers for the short stories that are simply used as reader magnets. I am earning back the money spent on covers with my book sales while avoiding the embarrassment of having cruddy covers that scream DIY or scream 'don't buy'. My eventual goal is to write a series worthy of fancy illustrations and pay 500 bucks per cover for that. But first, I'm using the 100 buck per cover guy to get established. I guess my point is -- don't be afraid of spending money on a cover because you can earn it back with sales. BUT BUT BUT -- the story needs to be something people want to read.

An awesome story won't sell if the cover looks like a steaming pile of goo because nobody is going to bother clicking on it.
A sucky story won't sell for long if the cover is the most breathtaking thing ever seen because people are going to write terrible reviews after being suckered into buying that mess.
Selling books is all about having a decent story, cover, and blurb. If one or more of those things falter, then you are wasting your time and money.
B.L. Alley

Posts: 1,242
Registered: 06/14/14
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 31, 2017 5:24 AM   in response to: Moshe Ben-Or in response to: Moshe Ben-Or
 
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You really can't accept that other people can possess multiple skills AND be good at them, can you? Exactly how did I ever admit I don't have the capacity to learn certain skills? I've learned everything I set out to learn. I do not possess the natural talent to be an artist, but I figured out a way to create imagery using my other skills and have received a lot of praise (and self satisfaction) for doing so. I'm sorry you lack the initiative to pursue multiple disciplines, but again, that does not give you the right to apply that deficiency to me. When my books were completed I had master images for the covers ready and waiting, and doing so didn't delay my writing one bit. Two of my novels were written in six weeks, and that is with frequent breaks and working on the covers.
I listed many of my skills as a counterpoint to your insistence it's not possible, or to do so to a professional level. Of course I admit I do not possess certain skills. That is the only way I've been open to learning anything new. People who strut around as if they are all-knowing masters of the universe tend to know very little because they've convinced themselves they already know everything and are therefore closed to learning. Of course initial results are sub-par. That's part of the learning process, but that is not where I stopped with any of the skills I pursued. I continue to learn what I can, when I can. If you continue to assume the above list refers to nothing more than hobbyist level skills, I can assure you it does not. Twenty years ago I was hired by the premier multi-housing company to take over the maintenance supervisor position of their flagship property upon completion of construction, above hundreds of technicians already working for them. That doesn't happen if you're merely "okay" at touching up paint or fixing a dripping faucet. So, no, I did not spend six months learning how to make a book cover. I've spent the last four years doing so, and continue to learn and refine my abilities because the process interests me and I always want to improve. Will I ever sell my work? No, because being a great graphic artist requires the artistic talent I lack, but that doesn't mean I can't create something far better than what is possible with plug-and-play apps, or the cut-and-paste covers by self proclaimed 'experts' who are really just people like me who only spent that six months learning the craft. We learn by doing, not by saying "I'm not already a top-level expert so I may as well not even try". Life handed me lemons. Instead of crying about it and giving up because I can't be a true artist, I pushed myself to work the problem and came up with a solution which works for my needs and resources. That attitude is exactly why I've been able to learn so many things and become such a good problem solver, and always try to instill that attitude in others rather than tell them they aren't good enough and can't do it.
B.L. Alley

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Registered: 06/14/14
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 31, 2017 5:35 AM   in response to: C. Gold in response to: C. Gold
 
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I can't draw to save my life, but you've seen what I can do by applying my mechanical mindset and problem-solving skills. I visualize the image I want to see and figure out how to recreate that image without drawing it.

By the way, not that you fall into the category, but when I was a service electrician at least half my jobs involved fixing shoddy electrical work by homeowners and handy-men who thought they could do it. It is the one thing I advise everyone to avoid becasue the home and your life depend on doing it correctly. That's not quite the same thing as my nemesis would have us believe. First, I freely acknowledge my shortcomings in the artistic department, and second, even if I published a book with the worst cover in history, I'm pretty sure my house will not burn down. Perhaps the most important thing my extensive education and skill-set has taught me is perspective, but it's also instilled a complete lack of tolerance for those who blindly state a thing can't be done solely because they lack the knowledge or initiative to do it.
Wilai Lattimore

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Registered: 01/15/14
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 31, 2017 9:03 AM   in response to: Moshe Ben-Or in response to: Moshe Ben-Or
 
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Moshe, the reality of the situation is that the majority of authors out there, if they want to make a profit, have to learn how to do their own covers. We all know that most books are going to only sell less than 10 copies, if they're lucky. Those authors will at least make a profit if they have a DIY cover.

The counter argument will be - pay $30 for a better cover and one will get more sales. 99c price? 90 sales to pay for the cover then 10 more makes 100 sales. Doable? maybe, maybe not.

Spend a few hours learning the basics, surely is a better route for most authors and try and achieve 100 sales without any overheads.
chris

Posts: 111
Registered: 09/26/14
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 31, 2017 9:49 AM   in response to: Wilai Lattimore in response to: Wilai Lattimore
 
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^^^^^^^ What he said.

For self-publishers, it's the economics of the thing, and the cost effectiveness.
Amis

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Registered: 02/25/17
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Dec 31, 2017 5:43 PM   in response to: Moshe Ben-Or in response to: Moshe Ben-Or
 
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IMO there’s no harm in and author trying to learn to do their own covers as long as it isn’t done in a void. If you read articles about what makes a good cover, look at the covers on the best sellers in your genre, ect. and get unbiased feedback (like running the design by CoverCritics.com) you can get a pretty good idea of whether you can pick up the knack of doing them well or not. Sometimes when you try something you find out you have a talent for it. Sometimes you don’t. But if you don’t try you never know if you could have done it. I think it’s the people who design in a bubble that get into trouble.

Of course that takes an investment of time so for some it makes more sense to get one done. Then again, that can go badly too.
George Kennedy

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Registered: 12/02/17
Re: Book Cover
Posted: Jan 14, 2018 5:53 PM   in response to: George Kennedy in response to: George Kennedy
 
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Thanks everyone for the great info.
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