Not every writer is willing to undertake designing their own book covers. Stick to what you know and leave that esoteric stuff to people who really know what they’re doing. But I have a long history of not paying attention to that kind of advice and I enjoy challenges. I have zero talent for creating art, but why should I let a little thing like that stop me? I’ve spent a lifetime in love with art, and I’ve picked up a little, here and there, of the elements of design. So why not? I’m aware that being an avid reader and understanding the elements that go into a novel does not make you automatically a good writer. It’s a learning process. I know I’ll never be a fantastic book designer, but I’m willing to do the work it takes to become a competent designer. Or maybe barely adequate.
All that is prelude to being struck by the notion that, just as I’ve been tracking my progress as a writer, it might be helpful to others to track my progress (and setbacks) as a cover designer.
I’ve received a lot of suggestions, none of which will work, but many of which got me thinking, and that’s a good thing because the primary problem is trying to create something original using the design elements I’m familiar with. If I were actually a designer, that would be a comparatively easy job, but since I lack the talent that goes into being a designer, it takes stimulus from outside to jolt what little creativity I have into motion.
One suggestion was to make the author’s name gold rather than black. Designwise, that’s a bad idea because it would fade into the background. Would I prefer something other than solid black? Yes, but at the moment nothing comes to mind.
Other suggestion were for images that would give some sense of the story, the way a gun or a bloody knife tells you that you’re looking at a mystery or detective novel. But being perfectly literal isn’t always a good idea, and it doesn’t fit with my preference for establishing a mood. The overall mood of the book is dark and sombre, and that’s what I’d like the cover to at least hint at. I wanted the title to suggest blood, but the first draft was much too bright. The darker red fits much better, but isn’t enough by itself.
Thinking more about the basis for the story, DNA came to mind, and here is where it makes sense to be somewhat more literal than I originally intended. The DNA chain is practically a cliche, but the one I discovered via Google conveys what sets the Ancien apart: a mutation. I don’t know if that’s actually what the graphic represents, but I think it can be read that way.
So now the last and maybe hardest part of the design is ahead of me. I have to tweak the graphic so that it doesn’t dominate, and then incorporate it into the existing elements of the design. And that means learning a new skill in Pixelmator. More fun and games ahead. If you hear a loud banging noise for the next day or so, that’s me banging my head on the desk.