Friday, November 23, 2012

My New Short Story Covers

As I said last week, I need to redo my covers for my short fiction. My body of work looked like a total hodge podge.

Here are the original covers:

I wanted to go for a sketchy, woodcut look.  I was going to do hand drawn fonts for the template, and then a commercial font for the titles, but I could find no font that fit, and doing the individual titles and subtitles by hand, would be a LOT of work.

So I decided to just go with the Mick and Casey standard font - Copperplate. It's not rough like a woodcut but it does look engraved.

And here is the crazy kicker: when I tried out various fonts to go with it, I discovered that no sane font quite worked in combo with Copperplate either.

Copperplate is a display font, but it's also very simple.  It has a very serious, weighty aspect to it, like it should be used only for a nameplate on a Victorian bank.  It's a weird font - not just simple, but gothic. That is, there is no variation in the thickness of the lines. So even though it's a serif font, it looks sanserif.  It half blends in, and half stands out, and neither matches nor contrasts with others.

So in a fit of desperation I started trying whacky fonts, and by golly, the worst cliche of a font out there actually worked.  To me at least.

What's wrong with using Curlz?  Well, first it's hard to read. It's also one of those pretty, fancy fonts that every person who ever dotted their i's with a little heart uses to design party invitations. It's also so silly and curly that you hardly notice the ultra-serious gravitas of Copperplate.  It comes out like.... Jeeves and Wooster. 

Like Jeeves, Copperplate isn't as plain as it looks.  It isn't like Arial Black, which is so familiar it's completely invisible.  Copperplate is a unique display font that adds to the sense of branding.  And since it is the font of my name, as well as the identifying band at the top, it makes those the important part.  The solid base which supports the frivolous and sketchy title and art.

You'll notice that, as they say on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the others: I made the Mick and Casey novelette different to tie it to the series.  I used the Mick and Casey logo for the art, and chose colors from Have Gun, Will Play.

My favorite of the designs here is the one for 5 Twists.  The concept seemed obvious and the simplicity of the design just makes it stand out to me.

My one concern is that these might stand out too much.  I want the crudeness and frivolous aspects to make this feel like minor works -- short stories, etc.  Might they overshadow the novels?

When I look at my Smashwords page, and a search on my name at Amazon, I can see all my titles laid out.  I do think that they work.  They don't overshadow the other covers, but they look good.  (They also make me want to upgrade Anna the Great, and Misplaced Hero. The other covers hold their own, but those now look the cheesiest.)

The purpose of this exercise was to upgrade the overall look of my body of work, when seen unsorted on a search page. I think it'll do.  The only other thing I really need to do is write more books in my various series so that the series look like something among all the other books.

See you in the funny papers.


Liana Mir said...

Misplaced Hero is your best cover of all and it fits with this general line. I'd leave it.

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Liana!

I'm of two minds on that cover, but I think what will make me decide one way or the other is when I do a cover for the next one. How similar, how different?

I might work to make the Anna the Great cover look more like Misplaced Hero. They are similar genres.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Love the new covers and the branding you're doing with them. :)

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Elizabeth!

Carradee said...

I agree that they're neat covers. I find the titles really hard to read—but I find all non-standard fonts really hard to read, so that's not your fault.

Nice job!

The Daring Novelist said...

Yeah, I had a concern about the titles -- except that I think text readability (at least at thumbnail size) is actually overrated. You're seldom going to see a thumbnail without the title right beside it in nice legible text.

I'm not saying it isn't important at all, just that it isn't a black and white issue.

I'll talk about that later.