Of the most excellent people who have bought my novella for the Amazon Kindle thus far — still for sale, very cheap! — a few have asked about the book cover. The most common question being: “Who designed the cover?” Well, it was me.
I’m no Chip Kidd or anything, but I think it’s decent enough. It works for a literary novella. At the very least, it doesn’t strike me as hopelessly amateurish or cheesy, like most self-published books I’ve seen. It’s simple, but it’s clean. For someone who isn’t a graphic designer by trade, I decided that trying to do too much would be a big mistake.
The main image was in my head for a while. Two teenage girls are at the center of the action in Fifteen Shots. Something happens which alters their lives greatly. That’s all I need to say, right? I could say more, but you’d be better off just reading the book.
First, I hand-cut the girl’s figure into a piece of cardboard. I wanted the cover image to appear feminine, of course, and somewhat fragile, but I also wanted an element of toughness. My first thought was to fill the cutout with black pepper. But after scattering some pepper across a sheet of white paper, it was clear that wouldn’t give me the effect I wanted. It was too fine. I wanted fragility, yes, but not someone who would be completely decimated by a light breeze. After rooting around in my cupboards, I found the answer. Black sugar. I filled in the cutout with black sugar, then scattered the “top half” grains across the paper in various patterns until I found an image that struck me just right.
After that, it was photo time. I’m not a professional photographer, so I can’t tell you exactly what I was doing, nor did I really know at the time. I took a bunch of pictures of my black sugar figure and picked the best one. I popped that shot into a photo editing program and messed with the color, shading, and so on.
Finally, it was text time. Again, the credo was “simple and clean.” Oh, and professional. The very least I could do was pick a good-looking font. I went through every font in the photo editing program — most of them looked awful — until I finally convinced myself that I chose wisely. If I were to nitpick the cover today, I’d probably question the text. But I’d rather not drive myself crazy. It’s fine.
And there it was. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, of course. It’s quite possible that to others, the cover looks as cheap as I feared. But for me, it works. Maybe I can get Kidd to do the next one.