Evolution of a Book Cover

About a month ago, I quietly released 5 Short Tales of Strange New Beginnings. My budget for this project was <$200. Decent book cover design usually runs about $300-500. God knows what $200 would buy.

I decided to design the cover myself and spend my limited funds on copyediting services (more on this later, maybe).

While I appreciate good design and can (sometimes) spot ineffective design, a graphic designer I ain’t.

However, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted. Unfortunately, brain-to-screen imaging isn’t a thing yet, so I had to use a pencil. Here’s the sorry result:

crow and truck sketch

I’m comfortable with digital design tools, so I took a photo of these sketches, traced them in Illustrator, placed them in Photoshop, and came up with this ghastly thing:



Yes, yes, I know. Even the title sucks. I grew disgusted with the alliteration after about five minutes. Also, the color looked too much like  brownish-yellow mustard (which, in my mind, will forever look like baby shit). Also, just looking at the typography makes me want to kill myself.

I played with this image for a few days. During this time, I pulled a bunch of books from my shelf and noticed a preponderance of outer glow. This is the result:


Meh. This version was better, but the outer glow was making my eyes bleed. Also realized the truck looked kind of silly. I decided to get an outside opinion on this little work, so I posted a quick request for feedback at /r/design_critiques. Only two users responded (and many thanks to them!), but with their help and a few more hours of work, my cover reached the final version:

Cover for 5 Short Tales of Strange New Beginnings

From the first image to the last, this cover went through about ten iterations. It would’ve been much worse if not for the kind people on r/design_critiques. According to my records, I spent 6.75 hours on this cover, but I can think of at least three nights I didn’t log my time (because beer). All told, the actual time from concept to finished product is closer to fifteen hours, spread out over two weeks.

Is this a great cover? Not by any means or measure. Does it convey a deeper meaning? Not really. It’s a big-ass crow carrying a truck. Is it effective? Maybe. Looks good as  thumbnail. Do I like it? Yeah. I’m happy with it.

Did I have fun making it?



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