As a too-poor-to-pay-them-to-do-it independent publisher, every decision was left in my hands. Some indies say this is one of the main reasons they chose this route. Others will tell you that it had more to do with royalties, typically a much higher percentage when dealing with a POD than a traditional publisher. I made this choice, as I wrote previously, because I wanted my book read and that wasn’t happening via the query-and-wait process.
But here’s the thing I discovered on the way to doing it all myself—I like making those artistic decisions. For one thing, a traditional publisher would likely have balked at my using two separate fonts. It’s a lot of extra work, and the way I had it set up originally (for a manuscript) did increase the work on my end. I had used Times New Roman 12 pt for the great majority of the text (what I call my “Garlan” font) and Century Gothic 10 pt for the “Earth” font.
CreateSpace, my POD publisher, provides advice on a multitude of publishing topics, and one of them is font choice. The font I wanted for the Garlan font was Book Antiqua 11 pt. I liked how it looked. It was not one of the fonts CreateSpace recommended. But it did, in my opinion, fit the criteria they laid out for a good book font. One problem solved.
I then began looking at fonts for “Earth.” I had my own criteria for these. First, the font I chose had to look dissimilar enough to Book Antiqua to be discernible as something different. Second, it had to match Book Antiqua size-wise at 11 pt so the reformatting from one set of fonts to the other would be simplified for me by one step, allowing me to change an entire chapter to 11 pt before proceeding with other formatting changes. And third, the italics in the “Earth” font had to stand out from its own regular version and look like italics when standing as one or two words in the middle of the “Garlan” font. In addition, the space between lines had to match between the two fonts. (You’d be surprised how many fonts leave huge amounts of space between lines.) Kabel BK BT fit the bill.
So, if I haven’t totally bored you with all of that, let me move on to the cover. I’d had a very unsatisfying experience with the cover of my book with my first POD publisher back in 2000. Their first design—mind you, for a fantasy novel with a medieval/almost Roman setting—looked like the cover of a psychological thriller, all reds and blacks and harsh images. I cried. They offered to redesign it.
The second cover had my shero in a long flowing dress looking quite distressed as a young man, presumably her brother, threatened her with a sword. Clearly a heroine in need of saving, not a strong young woman capable of saving herself. This time I begged them to take mercy on me and try again, admitting that if I must, I would accept this cover, but must I?
I did eventually accept their third attempt, a nondescript, stock photo of a small Greek-looking ruin on a hill—but only because it didn’t offend the crap out of me. It said nothing about the inside of the book, but it didn’t lie about the inside of the book either, and for the $99 I’d paid for them to do everything, I couldn’t ask them to do it again. I just couldn’t. I also couldn’t market the book. How can you get enthusiastic about something so mundane and boring. Here it is:
See what I mean?
This time I didn’t want to end up with something I couldn’t live with. I wanted to give it my all. But I was flummoxed. I can’t paint or draw. I don’t know how to make a photograph look like a painting or modify it to get rid of boobs on a female model (you’ll understand why that was important when you read the book). I looked at fantasy book covers on Amazon and looked for the name of the artist inside. Perhaps I’d be able to Google one who didn’t charge an arm and leg for a good cover. Then I came across one I liked, and it turned out it was an old painting. Public domain! Find a painting by a painter who died more than 70 years ago and I’m home free.
But what painting? I sat at my table and looked around my living room. Van Gogh? No. Picasso? Not dead long enough. Then, I remembered. Over my right shoulder behind me hung a print my sister had given me a very long time ago. “The Lady of Shalott” by John William Waterhouse who died in 1917 one month before my father was born. That was 94 years ago.
It was a painting of a woman clearly fractured emotionally. She had red hair like Lisen—long and curly like hers, too. It wasn’t until later (but before I finalized all my decisions) that someone pointed out one minor problem. She had breasts. But I hadn’t chosen this painting because she looked like Lisen; I’d chosen it for the emotions it evoked. And for the way it popped on the cover I’d designed with the help of CreateSpace’s template. I liked it and I kept it.
And that’s how I made sure my vision of Lisen and her story was maintained throughout the final product.