Thursday, March 21, 2013

Proof that I'm NOT a Designer

My amateurish cover screams "self-published" 

Although working a 40-hr a week job doesn't leave much time in my life for crafting or writing, I have learned a lot about design and publishing, namely the importance of having a professional on the job. However, at $85/hr, I can't really afford to hire a pro to do my book cover. I think my first royalty check from Amazon was a whopping $8, so maybe I could afford about 6 minutes of design time. That's about enough for a designer to turn on their computer and open up Photoshop and InDesign. So, like the do-it-yourselfer that I am, I jumped in and designed my own cover, quickly, with 3 kids jumping on me. Needless to say, the cover of "Love and the Placebo Effect" leaves much to be desired. 

So last weekend I got the brilliant idea that I could redo my book cover: take a few more hours, come up with a concept and execute it brilliantly. Easy peasy. 

Step 1: Whip out my art supplies. I love my Prismacolor pencils, but it's been
a while since I did any real drawing with them.

Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I do have an art degree. However, it is not in graphic design -- I majored in sculpture, which incorporates a whole different skill set. My one graphic design class (typography) is no substitute for years of training, an internship, and a design job. Still, I'm not entirely without skill, so I decided I'd take a stab at it and see what I could come up with. I started by sketching out a concept for the cover image. If you've read the book, you probably recognize this as Jane's "Eve".

Jane painted "Eve" with oils, I merely sketched with
Prismacolors. I reserve the right to take artistic license.

And here's "Eve" on the book cover. 

So attempt number 2 left me with a book cover that was more interesting than number one, but it still doesn't quite look professional. Real romance novels have nicer artwork. They also have things like "New York Times Bestselling Author of..." across the top, but I really can't claim that honor. I don't have any nice blurbs from well-known authors either, just my title and name. It still doesn't look quite right. My thinking at this point was that if I had better artwork it might make the whole thing look better. That led me to the next idea: I'd use a model to make it look more realistic.

Lacking money to hire a model, I used what I had on hand:
me. And with no snake around, well I had to improvise
on that point as well.

So I played model, make-up artist, and photographer and captured this image. My face isn't exactly the face of "Eve" as I imagined it, but, well... I used what I had available.

Since I own the above image, I decided to take a short cut:
I printed the picture on drawing paper so that I wouldn't have
to take time sketching and I'd already have a base color
to layer over. 

But, of course, my printer is out of yellow ink, and possibly
cyan as well. So here we have "Eve" in good ol' magenta. 

Even though my printed picture wasn't exactly what I had in mind, since I wanted a warm/passionate image (and since it very nearly matches the pink in book cover number 1) I decided a magenta base was okay. I Googled "coiled green snake" to get a few snake images to work from and got to work with my Prismas once more. A few hours later, voila:

I didn't quite get the snake's eyes right, and it doesn't
quite look as real as the face, but I still think it's better
than the first sketch.

Since I am not a real designer, I don't have Photoshop or InDesign, the two most common design programs used these days, so I put this picture in my trusty Photoscape (which I discovered makes all images 120 dpi; no big deal for the web, but a problem when printing. But, I digress...). Because the image was so big, and I was using my old, slow computer, it took a long time and I had a lot of difficulty manipulating the image in Photoscape. I finally gave up with when I got to what you see below, basically the same as book cover 2 with the updated image. Not really great.

I think the colors are better here, but there's too much
blank pink space. Maybe I'm picky, but I'm still not

So this is where I am, I have a decent image but still an amateurish product overall. Still, I think if I give it another shot I might get somewhere. And maybe a few tweaks to the drawing will make a big improvement. It's a multi-media piece already, no reason I can't paint some better snake eyes over the color pencil. The possibilities are endless ;)

Want more info on my book? Check out my Chloe Craft website HERE.


So I took into account some of the comments
I received (Drop shadow on the text, texture on
the solid color, incorporate the drug aspect of
"Placebo Effect") and this is what I've come up
with. I think it's much better than the other
options, so now I've updated it on Amazon,
The Book Patch, and my website.

Amazon  <--Kindle Version
The Book Patch <--Paperback Version


  1. Hi,
    The last one isn't that bad, I've recently learned that blues and greens are your friend. Am I being too harsh?
    What about some texture to the background and maybe a drop shadow affect too to your lettering and to your frame.
    I hope you don't mind the input...

    1. No, I appreciate any suggestions! I like blues and greens too :)

  2. I like your pinks though..the drop shadow will make your letters pop up from the page and texture will add a little depth? I'm not sure how to put it..I like how your photo turned out on the last one. You are quite the artist.
    I never did learned how to use InDesign,but wanted to.

  3. This is officially my favorite Chloe craft post to date. I laughed throughout the whole thing as I could easily imagine you going through this process. Jim's official critique is that he doesn't like the image of the girl at all because it makes no sense to him at all. He said why are her eyes close and she looks dead

  4. .....probably not the response you were going for considering this is a romance novel. Now as for me, I always like a good photo of you with a snake on your head. However, it just doesn't grab me. I feel like I'm looking for something more. I actually like the idea of the prescription pad ( medical reference "placebo")....maybe you could somehow expand on that or try a different image. I would like your eve photo in an 8 x 10 pic for a family photo wall pic though. :-)

  5. If you do choose to use this image or something similar, I agree that there is too much empty pink space. So maybe you could incorporate some other colors or texture in the background. Also, I applaud your artistic ability and your dedication to making your first novel as awesome as possible. Keep up the good work. I'll keep reading!!!

    1. Did you finish reading "Love and the Placebo Effect" yet? They all die in the end... And zombies attack. But they come back as undead vampires and get married and honeymoon in Hawaii. It's a fun book. ;)

  6. Hey I was thinking I probably should read the book...but you did give the ending away lol.

    1. Ha ha... not exactly. I just made that up to tease "E" - she read the beginning of the book long before it was published, but as far as I know has not made it to the end. She's a nurse and doesn't have a lot of free time for reading, but I like to tease her. There are actually no zombies or vampires. Just a woman who is kidding herself about love and a sexy nerd who teaches her the truth ;)

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