Still busy writing, which is a good thing. But in between writing are all those other things in life that must be dealt with. One of those important things is creating covers for my books. I’m a self-published author who has no budget to pay others to do what I need done, so having some skill at drawing has been helpful.
Designing book covers from start to finish can take as long as writing stories. Because I write fantasy, time spent writing a novel and making a cover can take years. I know few authors who can crank out fantasy novels in less than a year. Fantasy hinges on building new worlds and other-than-typical-persons-on-the-street characters. To tell it all—or to show it by today’s standard of “show don’t tell”—requires a huge amount of detail to bring it all to life. This takes a lot of time to do. Often, by the time I have written the story’s final draft, I’m anxious to get it into the readers’ hands before I’ve finished the cover. But good packaging is as important as having a good product, which means long hours at the drawing board
Recently, I began designing the covers during breaks in my writing schedule. Artists love shortcuts that will save time and give excellent results. I shortcut my illustration time by concentrating on one or two important story elements to depict on the covers. Lots of white space—or dark space, in my case—with bold contrasts has made for some pleasing work.
I hope I don’t sound like a hack or a lazy writer when I admit this, but I shortcut big fantasy elements in my stories. Fantasy books can end up mega-huge. But fantasy stories set in an essentially real world takes less pages to tell and less time to write about. Trust me, it takes fewer words to describe something familiar to readers than to describe something they have never seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or touched. This is probably why there is a lot of urban fantasy on the market. Things we recognize lessen the time authors spend writing. And good authors—epic book authors included—shortcut as well as any good artist. We call it editing, killing our babies, getting to the point.
So, ’nuff said ’bout the mechanics for now. Back to writing fantasy.