In an earlier post I wrote about how I designed my own book covers for my previous books using my own photographs. In this post I focus on the book cover for Bitter Ends my forthcoming collection of short stories.
Part of the thrill for me in creating a book cover is digging into my files and discovering that one photograph that expresses what’s in the pages in between and expressing it in a way folks who see the cover will be interested enough to take a peek inside and maybe even buy the book.
Like my previous book of short stories, Devious Tales, Bitter Ends is a collection of tales filled with murder, revenge, greed, and other mayhem along with a couple of slightly less deadly yarns. That said, the cover needed an ominous look informing the potential reader what they are getting.
In digging through my files I first focused on a few images taken in New Mexico back in 2013. One in particular was of a deserted highway with its colorful mountains in the background. I felt it reflected a feeling of vast emptiness and a bit of dread. I saw bodies potentially buried everywhere.
Below is the original image followed by a series early versions of the book cover.
We were on our way to visit Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch located in Abiquiú, New Mexico,when I pulled over and took the above shot that was my first choice for the cover. Cropping it was the first step followed by the lettering. I tried various fonts and colors before settling on the image on the right.
I spent some time reviewing the image, asking myself was this what I wanted. Did it visually express the stories and entice potential readers. The more I looked at it, the more I wasn’t satisfied that it did. I went back to digging into my photographic archive.
I next found a photograph taken just two months earlier in Yellowstone National Park. We were on a photo tour and came across this area in the park that had burnt. We stopped and took a series of photos, one of which is the first photo below. Looking at it, I thought it projected a dark, eerily, end of life feeling.
Some cropping followed and then some software experimenting resulting in the two early versions below.
I still wasn’t completely satisfied and kept working at it. Finally, I came up with what I envisioned visually expressed what I wrote. Below is the final cover.
Bitter Ends will be available in January from Amazon and Barnes and Noble as a paperback and ebook.