Cover to Cover

From two newsgroup posts dated August 23 and 24, 2011:

The trickiest parts of self-publishing, for me, are twofold. The big one is publicizing the work, so that would-be readers can find it.

The other one is coming up with a decent cover.

When I put those half-dozen short stories out there, I had to come up with covers. I was determined not to do anything generic, or use any of the publisher-provided art, but… well, it’s challenging.

I’m reasonably happy with what I eventually came up with. In particular I think the cover for “Stab” is pretty good, and of course that one was almost accidental. That’s just an ordinary Oneida kitchen knife, sitting on our dining table; the glare is from the camera’s flash. The “blood” is computer-generated, but otherwise the photo is unretouched. I actually took some photos with real blood on the blade — checking one’s glucose twice a day tends to reduce squeamishness about blood, and meant I had lancets handy — but that looked much more fake than the CGI blood.

I originally took several pictures by natural light of the knife with my blood on it sitting on various pavements, but none of them looked any good at all. On the way back into the house, after I’d wiped the knife clean, I put it down on the dining table and did a double-take. That looked good!

The cover for “Parade” is just a photo I took in New York in June, judiciously cropped but completely unaltered. That’s West 43rd Street.

The cover for “Hearts and Flowers” was assembled out of online public-domain clip art. Took maybe fifteen-twenty minutes.

The cover for “Heart of Stone” is a clip-art stone wall background with an excerpt from a Botticelli painting on it.

The cover for “Dead Things Don’t Move” is a reworked photo of a neighbor’s back-yard workshop.

The cover for “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” is a reworked photo of a diner in Reading, Pennsylvania. I took the picture last year.

The cover for “The Ghost Taker” — well, what I intended to do was assemble a bunch of carved faces from various sources into a staff, like the one the priest in the story carries. I was working on that, using a couple of carvings Kiri did years ago as my first pieces, and had gotten as far as knocking out the background in one picture, and doing some preliminary work on the figure’s base in the photo to make it easier to merge with the next chunk, when I looked at it and said, “What the hell, that’s kind of cool just like that.” So I stopped there, and used it.

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