When I decided to publish my first fantasy series, I looked at the options and opted to do my own book covers. Why? Three reasons:
- Cost. I’m publishing for fun and didn’t want to pay out the cash for a pro. Let’s face it, that’s the reason most self-publishers do their own cover art. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. It’s not like you upload a photo, add your title and name, and publish to rave reviews on your book cover. I thought to save myself some cash. It didn’t work out that way. I’ve spent money on a tool I’m happy with, so I ended up paying anyway, and I’m still not an artist.
- It was a chance to work with new tools. I’ve enjoyed the process, but I’ve spent a lot of time learning tools/apps (and there’s still a lot for me to master at even a rudimentary level). This was time I could have spent writing. While I type this, I’m waiting for a render to complete and I can already see the lighting is off. (FYI, the lighting is always off on my first render of a scene.)
- I’m a control freak, plain and simple. Since I do my own covers, I have total control over what the cover looks like, even if it’s crap.
Looking over my reasons for doing my own cover art it appears that I should have hired a professional. (Learn from my mistake.) I have considered that option seriously and may end up doing so in the future. Publishing and marketing also take time from writing and perhaps it’s time to outsource a task, like cover art, where I lack the skill to be truly great. But the reason for this post is to let writers know that there is a big plus to creating some basic drawings of your world.
I’m not talking world maps, which anyone writing fantasy or science fiction must do, if for no other reason than to keep locations straight in your writing. I’m talking drawings to help you flesh out descriptions. When I created the first world for Finding Earth, I was having trouble describing that world. Finally, I drew one of the scenes. Suddenly, the feather petal tree took shape with it’s bumpy bark and feather like leaves on a single branch. The sticky orb became a bush the size of a human adult with many thin branches. Each branch had three to five green orbs containing a sticky sap that is used medicinally. The beacon tree grew huge, sporting a curved bark and a single branch. The branch droops down, weighed by the pods that absorb sunlight and glow in the dark aiding travel at night. Had I not played around with drawings, my vision of this world, and its descriptions, would not be nearly as defined.
Every writer approaches their world creation in their own way. I’ve found that drawing certain scenes help me define my worlds in a more accurate and believable way. Here are a few examples. None of them were for book covers. Most were me learning new tools and were created at least one year ago. All depict scenes from the Farseen.