Scott Oden

The Agony of Covers


In a few weeks’ I’ll be re-releasing an edited, updated version of Men of Bronze as an e-book.  Later, I’ll re-release it in paperback and hopefully audiobook.  This has meant going back to my original manuscript and creating a new clean master document formatted for e-books.  It has also meant agonizing over a new cover.

It is not hyperbole to say a book’s cover can make or break a book.  A large segment of the reading population use the initial draw of the cover to gauge their interest in what might lurk beneath.  It’s a reader’s market, folks.  With so many choices out there with which to occupy their time, a book has to grab them EVEN BEFORE page one — which means an eye-catching cover and compelling synopsis.

Good covers can be expensive.  Even licensing a pre-existing image can run into the mid-four figures or even five figures.  Hiring a world-class artist, hiring a cover designer, hiring an editor . . . these can quickly eat your budget, but they are so necessary!

I’ve been attempting the low road, as my budget right now is pocket lint and warm wishes.  The “low road” involves scouring the Internet for public domain art and going around, hat in hand, to my artistically-inclined friends to see if they can mash them together for me in Photoshop.  Yes, I’d rather license Frazetta’s “Atlantis”, but that would mean the loss of one working kidney (I inquired).

And, the low road does have some surprising twists.

Here’s the first offering, from my friend Yoshi.  He’s a 3D artist and modeler who knows the business end of Photoshop:

I want your opinions, Gentle Readers.  What makes a cover stand out for you?  And, if you were a publisher, what sort of cover would you envision for Men of Bronze?