Monday, April 15, 2013

Artwork (Again!)

Let's rant and rave a little bit on artwork again, kiddies.  A subject that, frankly, intrigues me.  A link in the publishing chain that has, traditionally, not been a focus for authors.  Either because the author wasn't/isn't interested in what kind of cover will grace their literary effort . . . or more likely not involved because traditional publishers have  consistently viewed that decision as being in their bailiwick and not in the author's bailiwick.

But as you may have noticed . . . the publishing world is changing.  And so too should a writer.

If you're a writer you should be intimately involved in the selection process.  If you're lucky enough to pick up a traditional publishing contract, what a potential reader sees on a book shelf could be the critical deciding factor in the decision to buy, or pass up, that purchase.

I think the same thing is true for ebooks.  Nope, most potential readers do not browse when they shop for a book to read on the internet.   But, along comes an eye-popping cover in a genre they're interested in, and I'd betcha half interest in the Brooklyn Bridge said curious reader will stop and closely examine both the artwork and the contents the artwork represents within.

Therefore let me reiterate.  As a writer you should be closely involved in the design and look of the book cover.  You should find an artist(s) whose style appeals to you.  Hopefully an amicable working relationship evolves between you two where give-and-take suggestions back and forth between artist and writer helps create the perfect image.  Use the world 'collaboration.'  It fits perfectly in what I'm trying to say.

Above is the finished process for the cover of a book of short stories called The Turner Hahn Files: Twenty for the Grave.  It's not out yet--still looking around for a publisher (and one may be very, very, very close to saying 'yes').  Twenty short stories featuring Turner Hahn and Frank Morales.  Stories that stretch over a two and a half year span of time.

The artist(s) are a couple of brothers Javier and Jesus Carmona of Madrid, Spain.  We've worked on other projects of mine before. Mostly my Fantasy novels (see Roland of the High Crags cover in the list of books in the right hand column).   I like their use of vivid color; their composition and lay outs, their attention to detail.  But more than anything, I truly enjoy their desire to work closely with me in coming up with the perfect image.

The above illustration started out as a mental image in my minds' eye.  Especially the background: the polished green marble with the gold veins.  My original idea was to have the two standing together like you see now . . . but in submitting my idea to the two in writing  I didn't make it clear enough.  So the rough-draft version came out looking like this.

I'm sure you see the differences.  More importantly I'm sure you see in the rough draft no visual representation of what the marbled back ground would look like.  A very important point.  When you select an artist to help you out, you have to rely their artistic ability to get the whole design hammered out correctly.

So there was an exchange of emails.  I suggested changing the hands on Turner.  We discussed the marble background.  There was another discussion on making the two look like they were 'moving' somehow.

In the end: Voila!

The perfect image!

I plan to use this image on more collections of Turner/Frank short stories in the future.  When they come out the artwok will essentially be the same---but with some differences.  Very slight alterations in the color of their suits and ties.  Maybe a more wind-blown look involving Turner's hair.  (Oooooh!  I like the idea, for instances, of 'punching' gouged out bullet holes in the marble behind them.  That'd look really neat.)

The writer and the artist in close collaboration in the making of a book cover.  Absolutely essential in my estimation.

(By the way, looking for an artist to hire?  Allow me to recommend the Carmona Brothers of Spain.  You'll find they could very well be interested in hearing from you. Look at the selection of sites to wander through and find Carmonaart.  Contact them there.)

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