Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
I recently went up to Lookout Mountain yet again to take some photos for my new book’s cover art and professional-esque photos to use online. It’s one of my favorite spots near Denver, and I think we got some great pictures from the trip.
The plan was to take several different styles and layouts for the book cover. Then, I’ll see what I can do with them in Photoshop.
This is one of the cheapest ways to create a cover for your book but it requires a great deal of work. It’s not like I am slapping up any image for the sake of having something for the book.
Unfortunately, people will judge a book by its cover. So, you want something that accentuates your story while being alluring enough for someone to buy it.
Being Taken Seriously
First, having a decent picture of yourself, whether it’s a full-body pic or a headshot, can go a long way for people to take you seriously. After all, appearances are everything, and making a good first impression is vital in any career path.
This is true as a freelance writer, blogger, or author. How you represent yourself will dictate how others perceive you. And using things like emojis, anime art, cartoons, or the like as a photo of yourself online decreases your chances of finding employment, clients, fans, or followers.
That is speaking from the perspective of a hiring manager. I won’t even look at the rest of the resume if someone is using some cartoon character of him or herself in the cover letter. And yes, this has happened more times than I can count.
It tells me that if you’re not going to take something as simple as a photo of yourself on a resume seriously, then you’re not going to take the rest of the job seriously, either.
For some authors or bloggers, cartoon characters or drawings of themselves could be part of a brand or schtick. And that is acceptable, as long as it’s made apparent that it is. But for the most part, people want to feel connected to a real person, which begins with an actual photo of yourself.
I had a comment once on my YouTube channel about how the viewer couldn’t take me seriously because my background was such a mess. Despite the information, that person couldn’t get over the fact that not everyone has an awesome, clean, elaborate background to use in their houses.
In any case, actual photos of yourself that are tastefully taken can make a huge impact on your overall success.
Unique Images Are Always the Best
So, let’s move on to the book cover art. While there are stock photo sites out there to help you create a nice cover, unique layouts are always best.
The last thing you want is for someone to associate your book with someone else’s because you used the same stock images.
Even in the blogging space, unique images are always better than using royalty-free websites. Yes, I often use Pixabay and others when I don’t have an image I need or have time to take one. But I can attest to unique images making a profound impact on the success of a blog post.
Stock photo sites are ideal if you don’t have the time, money, or graphic design abilities to create images yourself. And some of them can work exceptionally well with your content. However, there’s no denying that unique images are superior.
This is why authors and publishers will pay a pretty penny for professionally designed cover art. Not only do they want the cover to look nice, but they also want it unique.
As I said in the beginning, people will often judge a book by its cover.
Personally, I would never use a stock photo for a book I intend to publish on sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I’ll sometimes use a “temp” image while I’m writing the story, but will always side with uniqueness over function in the end.
I would never use AI-generated art on the cover of my books, however. If I can’t create the cover myself, I’ll wait until I can afford to have a human do it for me.
I believe in paying for talented individuals who can do more than work with an AI prompt.
The Plan for the Book Cover
For my first book, A Freelancer’s Tale, we headed up to Lookout Mountain to take a few pictures. They came out quite nicely, and the location actually fit my next book, Kingmaker, incredibly well.
However, this time, we were further into the mountain trails a short distance from Buffalo Bill’s grave.
Cosplaying in the Mountains
The idea was to dress up a bit and take some action photos in the forest. When you read Kingmaker, it’ll be apparent why I needed a lot of trees.
After spending quite a bit on props at various locations in Denver, I got dressed up and did a bit of hiking. Considering it’s October, I didn’t feel too odd about walking around with a skeleton prop, sword, or leather body armor.
I didn’t need props that were overly detailed mostly because I planned on using a filter in Photoshop, which I’ll talk about in a moment.
Despite the holiday season, I still got a few comments, smiles, and laughs from people walking past.
Considering how much fun I had, I’ve decided that this was going to be the schtick for the Witcham series of books: cosplaying the book covers. Though, I’m not going to be the focus of each cover.
Combining Several Photos Into One
We took several images of me standing in various poses and in different locations. Then, we took a few of the skeleton, mostly because it was fun.
However, the forested area on Lookout Mountain isn’t as dense as it is in the book. So, we also took some extra photos of trees in the area.
Because I have a bit of skill with Photoshop, the idea was to put more of those trees on the cover when I started editing the photographs.
Not to mention that some of the pics of the skeleton by itself came out very nice. So, I’ll have to put him on the cover as well.
Needless to say, I have my work cut out for me with the cover art.
Photoshop Filters and Adjustments
I’ll make a few adjustments to the photos to get a base idea of the cover. Then, I plan on adding a filter to it so that it looks less like a live-action photograph and more artistic.
Some of the filters in Photoshop do a great job of this such as the glass distortion, crosshatch, angled strokes, paint daubs, or even a Gaussian blur. Originally, I was debating on doing a colored pencil appearance. I still might use that one to see how it comes out comparatively.
There is quite a bit I can do with Photoshop, so I have no doubt that I’ll be able to come up with something that fits the book while looking nice.
But, what if no one likes the cover? Well, as I’ve said a few times before, we’ll call this a “special edition” of the book and have someone else create the cover art later.
One of the things I’m trying to demonstrate is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to publish your book. Sure, I spent quite a bit on props for this cover art. But it wasn’t nearly as much as what some designers wanted.
Besides, most of what I spent can be used for future cosplay, Halloween decorations, or costumes for various reasons.
I’m setting up a page on MichaelBrockbank.com to keep track of everything I spend on Kingmaker and how much it brings in each month. It’ll be interesting to compare and calculate the return on investment.
The “Making Of” Video
As I did with A Freelancer’s Tale, I plan on putting together a “making of” video for the cover of Kingmaker. However, my monthly members will have access to the video two weeks or so before it’s published for the public.
I thought it was a fun idea, and the video for A Freelancer’s Tale is still one of my favorites on the channel.
Luckily, we didn’t discuss too much of the book, so it won’t need a spoiler alert. And I’m sure I’ll write up a quick blog post and embed the video once it goes live.
It’s just an inside look into the effort we take to get the pictures we’re looking for regarding the book. If all goes well, I’ll more than likely spend a bit more when I’m ready to publish Fury, book two in the series.
Kingmaker Should Be Out On Monday!
The plan is to have the book ready to go for publishing on Monday. It’s been two years in the making, and I’m working diligently for the next few days to make it happen.
Plus, I think I’ll show a photo slideshow on Monday night’s livestream of Lookout Mountain. We had a lot of fun and think my regular viewers might like to see the beauty of Colorado.
I’m quite nervous about the book, to be honest. With A Freelancer’s Tale, I wasn’t expecting a huge readership. Kingmaker is a much different animal and I plan to market the hell out of it.
Regardless of the book’s outcome, it was a lot of fun to write. It’s the first in a series of four or five, depending on how the primary plot evolves.
So, if you like fantasy that is a bit darker with adult themes and situations, you might like Kingmaker.
Never Underestimate the Value of Good Photographs
I am quite pleased with how well most of these photos came out. I’m looking forward to changing my social profiles and such. Yet, the fun is just beginning. It’s going to take a while to polish up the cover art for Kingmaker.
The bottom line is that humans are a visual species. And having something that is eye-catching and pleasing can make a world of difference as a creator.
Thank you, Sam, for helping me take these amazing photos and polishing up the manuscript. And thank you, Chris, for your insights into the layout and as a beta reader. You both are too awesome for words to describe.
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