C. A. Pack

Musings & Brainstorms & Rants

June 2013

Book Cover Design - The Prequel

Last week I wrote about designing the cover for one of my future books. I’d like to expound on that.

Writers who publish independently have to take care of all the details that a publishing house would normally deal with, like hiring an outside editor, finding an interior layout designer, and deciding on a cover artist. There’s also marketing and promotion, but that’s another whole layer of business above and beyond
creating the product.

Understand: I love writing fiction. Ever since I first learned to read and write, I discovered that fiction allows us to live life in another person’s shoes. It’s a new lease on life - with none of the consequences, or (sadly) the perks. I like to call it one of the Four Levels of Consciousness: 1. The Daily Grind (aka life itself), 2. Daydreaming, 3. REM Sleep, and 4. Vicariously Living Through Fiction. And while the first two levels (and possibly the third) are defined by your own experience, fiction can expand your horizons beyond that.

I also love art. So when
Chronicles: The Library of Illumination stressed me out because I didn’t know how I would explain the content to a book cover designer, I decided to hire from within. The problem with CLOI is that it includes five novelettes combined into one 85,000 word book. I wanted each story represented on the cover, which definitely doesn’t fall into the less is more ideology.

My journey began with finding the visuals - an easy, but pricey task considering the number of elements I used. Combining them turned out to be harder, because even though I could see them drifting hazily across each other in my mind’s eye, I didn’t know how to combine them in Photoshop. One of the reasons why I’m able to create my own cover is because I found a discounted online Photoshop course through Groupon. Another reason is that I love a creative challenge. And the third reason is that I have an artistic background.

I’m not advising every writer to tackle the creation of their own cover. As I wrote on one LinkedIn forum, I’m a former art major who sold several of my own paintings when I was a teen - to earn money for college (Fashion Institute of Technology). I neither graduated from FIT nor continued painting (more’s the pity), but that doesn’t change the fact that I can conceptualize ideas visually. A lot of writers think visually, but not all of them do, so hiring a pro is an important step on the road to publishing independently. But there will always be a few of us who stray onto an interesting looking path, and fewer still who will discover something wonderful and fulfilling at the end.

Several people on LinkedIn wrote that the only way to get a good book cover design is to hire a professional. I like to think that I did.

New Book Cover

CLOI mini cover

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve struggled to come up with a design for the cover of my upcoming novel,
Chronicles: The Library of Illumination. I previously published three Library of Illumination novelettes, but have written six, and decided to put several of them together in one book. While images for the covers of the previous books were easier to develop, this book proved tougher, because it encompasses several different stories, and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I also needed to make sure the cover would appeal to a teenage audience.

I love the stock photo I found to represent Johanna and Jackson. But it doesn’t tell the whole story so I tried to include imagery from the novelettes, but that became a huge mess. I finally settled on the mini photo strip on the bottom and liked the way the cover was shaping up, but there was nothing “illuminating” about it, so I searched high and low for an illuminated “C” for the word Chronicles. I couldn’t find one, and spent a day designing my own. With my template complete, I went online to purchase the rights to various elements I would be using, and that’s when I stumbled upon a black and gold illuminated “C.” The one I had designed was
okay, but this one works better with the entire cover concept and complements the trefoil emblem that I’m using as an “O” in the title.

All my previous covers were dark. This one started out white, but looked too sterile. I played around with the background color and the gradient copper turned out to be more appealing. All-in-all, I’m pretty pleased with it, but it was a long slog because I had to teach myself Photoshop to do it. I crafted the
Evangeline’s Ghost cover in InDesign, but couldn’t get as creative as I wanted. I needed to push myself to learn something new.

Now, I can add Photoshop to my resume, along with InDesign. Whoever knew I’d end up as a poster child for Adobe Creative Suite.


I was singing to myself in the kitchen yesterday morning
making it up as I went alongand thought this song would work if I could make it bigger. Then I laughed and thought I should email one of my friends and ask her if she wanted to work on a musical with me. We could call it Make It Bigger.

But now, it would only look like I was ripping off Neil Patrick Harris’s opening song for the 2013 Tony Awards. It is a freaky coincidence (no lie) which is a sign that whatever I want to do in the future, I’d better work fast and accomplish it before someone else comes up with the same idea.

To be honest, though, I don’t know if I could have written anything
this big.


Trophy Wife

I was given the opportunity this weekend to work on a project, put together by my friend, Gary Licker. He’d signed up for the 48 Hour Film Project, which gives teams only 2 days to write, rehearse, block, shoot, edit, score, and add effects to a 4 to 7 minute mini-movie. The
project coordinators give the filmmakers the genre, as well as the name of a character and his/her profession, a line of dialogue and a prop that must be used. Our project got off to a slow start, but picked up speed as the weekend progressed, with the following result.

The film premiers this Friday night at 8:00 at the Cantor Film Center in Manhattan.

48 Inch Living Space

I love examples of small space living, but I think the following space featured in an article from Houzz is a little extreme - even for me. It was built in Poland between two buildings (in what most people might call an alley) and for the most part is only 48 inches wide.

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