Finally got my header image sorted. Do you like it?
Being an indie author requires a certain ability to be a Jack of all trades. It’s not just the writing you’re responsible for, but also a large part of the editing, and in some cases, designing the covers of your book. Some people may have a few pounds set aside to get someone to do the artwork for them, but when I started writing I was broke (technically as I’m still unemployed, and sell bugger all in the way of books, I still am) so I was left with the only other viable option, and that was getting to grips with graphic design.
True, there are many stock photos out there suitable for using for a cover. Some are cheap, some bloody expensive, and some are free. The problem with that is, they’re open to anyone to use. The cover picture I use on my novel, could well end up as someone else’s too. I’ve even seen one of the free wallpaper pictures that came with Microsoft Office used as a cover on a self-published book before now. In that case, not only is it not an original design, it’s down right lazy.
So I turned my hand to creating my own covers. However, I didn’t come at it completely blind. I use GIMP as my main graphics programme. Basically, it’s an open-source, free, version of Photoshop, and with it comes a wealth of How Too tutorials; from creating star fields (such as the one I’ve knocked together for my header image), to creating alien planets (my WordPress icon image is also a creation of mine, as is my Twitter and Facebook avatar), and other more abstract designs (such as the kind I use for my novel covers). Everything a science fiction novelist needs to produce an eye-catching and dynamic cover. And to be honest, thanks to all the tutorials out there, it isn’t that difficult.
Every indie author is one among thousands, all of whom are trying to get their book seen and bought, and we need to be able to stand out from the crowd. As people do judge a book by its cover, we need to make sure what we present is as fresh as possible. For some people, that’s employing someone to create a cover for them, and there are plenty of talented designers out there willing to do so for a reasonable price. But when that’s not an option, we need to be able to be willing to take on the challenge ourselves.
Overall, I’m happy with my ability to create covers for my novels. They may not be totally spectacular, but they’re unique, and another expression of my creativity. And hey, I was a semi-finalist in the AuthorsDB cover competition thanks to my second novel’s cover (didn’t enter my first cover), so my art work can’t be that bad.