It’s a good idea to use a professional cover art designer for self-published books. Covers make all the difference, and artists struggle just like writers. So we should work together. But when it comes to short stories–eBooks that are only a few dozen pages long, that sell for less than a dollar, and can’t reasonably be expected to pay for the time and effort of writing and formatting, much less professional artwork–it might make sense to dabble as an amateur cover designer.
If that interests you, here is an example of an amateur design for the cover of the short story, “Love, Death, and Overlapping Bosonic Singularities,” a romantic science fiction available to eBook readers for 99¢. The cover is designed using exclusively Microsoft PowerPoint for Office 2010. The royalty-free artwork was obtained from Dollar Photo Club in two separate images. A white background in one image was removed using PowerPoint’s “Set Transparent Color” feature, and the rest was a matter of arranging things, playing with basic fonts, and saving a single slide as a PDF file. (The e-Reader mock up was provided by Adazing Design.)
The cover is dark. But it’s a science fiction romance (SFR), so that might not be a problem. The cover also uses too many fonts–at least according to the common rules of thumb for amateur book cover designers. But that rule is broken here intentionally. The story involves Amy’s involuntary traversal through inconsistent realities. At the outset we’re aware that Amy doesn’t consider reality to be fixed, and in short order it becomes evident why she thinks that way. Soon another explanation is offered. But still, that is just the beginning. The cover-font incontinuity is intended to parallel that broken stream of experience, as is the clunky title itself. “Love, Death and Overlapping Bosonic Singularities” is a mouthful. But it effectively foreshadows the central personal struggle for Amy as well as the key SF element of the story.
The working title had been “Shuffle.” That matched the story too, but it is remarkably less informative to anyone that hasn’t already read the story.
The original design was good, too. But it didn’t seem to “pop.” All that effort to reflect the story and reveal the mood and problem of the tale, had the same trouble as the early working title, “Shuffle.” It didn’t capture the mood and promise of the story for a prospective reader. Rather, it was a satisfactory cover for a person that already had read the story. So out with the old, and in with the new.
“Love, Death and Overlapping Bosonic Singularities” was originally published in The Lorelei Signal, edited by Carol Hightshoe. The associated artwork in that publication was a wonderful piece by Lee Kuruganti, who was also the design winner for the 2oo8 Hugo Award Base. She also illustrated Twisted Thorn, by Richard King Perkins II, in the same issue.
If you haven’t read it yet, and if you’re an e-Reader, give the story a glance. It’s available from many eBook sellers, and at most sites you can read the beginning for free. If you like it and want to read the rest, the full piece is just 99¢.