Friday, June 11, 2010

Don't judge a book by its cover

is a ridiculous line, if you ask me. We ALL judge a book by its cover. The only difference will be whether you do it consciously or not. Book covers are important, they convey the first impression. Not everyone agrees of course, but I think most people will say a terrible cover or jacket design might be enough to persuade them to put the book back on the shelf.

When I began to learn the technical rules of photography (such as the rule of third, which wants a break in horizon to either appear at the bottom or top third of the frame. Putting the break in the middle is the mark of an amateur... apparently. Breaking the rule works SOMETIMES, but rarely. It worked for my Central Park shot, which is why I chose it), I found it difficult to see the small differences the photographers said made a huge impact.

When you're done with the "shooting" part, post-processing comes next. This means, for digital SLR cameras, transferring the RAW negatives on your hard drive and veto them one by one. This used to take me an hour per 100 shots. Now I can do 300 shots in the same amount of time. Why?

Perception. I think that's what it is. If you constantly go over the same exercise over and over again, your mind will eventually catch up with your eyes and you'll finally see what you couldn't before.

Whether you like it or not, your eye sees everything even if you don't. A few months ago I started a thread on a forum and asked people what their cover pet peeves were. The results were interesting.

I heard authors have very little say about the cover of their book, and it's sort of unfortunate because if authors could voice their concerns or opinions a bit more, such disasters would NEVER occur.

Take the Twilight cover. Instant classic. The artist hit the nail on the head with that one. It's simple, classy and catches your attention instantly. Title, arms, apple, done. No need for ridiculous looking bimbos in spandex outfits, a shirtless guy with a nice pack of abs and a big sword to remind us of his virility. I'm not going to link to any of those covers (in case, God forbid, I'd have queried an agent who represents that exact book), but you know exactly the covers I speak of. It became virulent, especially in the fantasy and sci-fi genre. I don't see the appeal, especially since, 90% of the time, the person on the cover doesn't match the description of ANY character in the book (see disaster article above).

Now, for a shameless plug (heh, it's my blog after all! :))

cover

I really like my cover. I knew before the first draft was even done what I'd like my cover to be like. When I contacted the Argentinian artist who modeled this sword, I sent him a lot of drawings (which here HORRIBAD) and a lot of descriptions. It took about two weeks, but everything, to the smallest curve, was like I had imagined it. The sword, named anicus, is an iconic part of the TRINITY mythology, like the light saber is iconic to Star Wars. My intent was to make a dramatic, mysterious and original cover that would convey a sense of mythology being present in the book.

I approached the idea of writing a novel with one goal in mind: write something cool. It might sound childish, but this is really what I wanted. Remember in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, the movie, when Minas Tirith is being sieged by the forces of Mordor? Then, the riders of Rohan show up and they charge under the sound of horns? I remember the feeling I had when watching that scene; "THIS IS SOOO COOOOLL!" Hence this cover: I think it's cool.

I have no idea whether a publisher would allow a cover designed by the author to be used. I hear their budget for cover arts is 4000$; it cost me less than ten times that for mine, and it's an original. Maybe they'll welcome the $$$ savings?

What are your cover pet peeves? Any cover you find amazing?

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