Independent authors face a choice in publishing - spend your own money, or do it yourself
It has taken weeks of work and a lot more time learning how, but I am very proud to announce the release of the 2016 editions of Dirt, Series One.
Note: It may take a few days for the thumbnail images on the various bookstores to update, but the downloads will be fine.
The five initial books all have brand-new covers and have already been through an additional editorial process. The dragons have been repainted, Johnson Farthing has had his beard trimmed up, the maps have been polished, and even the boat has had a new lick of varnish.
The new covers are much more powerful, fun and attractive, and I am really pleased with them. But it hasn't been easy.
For an independent author, the choice to spend money or do everything yourself applies at every stage of the process from initial concept to pushing the publishing button. For some of us, spending money is simply out of the question - we don't have the money to spend. And for those of us who want to make this our full-time occupation, spending money that may never be earned back is foolhardy. Speculate to accumulate might sound very attractive, but it can also be impossible if you do not have the cash.
For me, the use of stock images or premade book covers was simply not an option. I do not wish to have an image that another author might easily use on their own book and with fantasy, there is the slight problem of images being far less available - I think it is no coincidence that many premade book covers are aimed at the romance market as humans are a lot easier to photograph than dragons!
So, over the last year, as well as writing, I have been drawing. I am still no artist and for me this is a big struggle, but I have improved, my knowledge of Photoshop is better, and these new covers are the result of my better skills.
One of the most difficult parts of the process is to keep "Dirt" and what it stands for represented in the same way. When I made the first covers, I had certain fundamental objectives.
- Dirt is a very poor world where most people struggle
- Large areas are arid, though not necessarily very warm
- The sun has a very slight pinky-reddish hue
- The main character of series one is a simple man with a hand to mouth existence.
To get all this across in the early days I decided to go for a hand-painted feel, bordering on a cartoon, I suppose, though I hope my characters feel real to people and not two-dimensional.
But my quest for simplicity, at least partly reflective of my ability, probably fell far short of what I really needed.
For the new covers, although I stayed with a hand-painted feel, I have made them richer, bolder and with deeper, stronger colours. I think in the process I have kept to my original brief and Dirt still comes across as a dry, sometimes unforgiving world where life can be difficult and the people, dragon and human, are interesting and complicated.
I have redesigned the covers for all five of the existing books - Dirt, Bloody Dirt, The Fight for Dirt and Hope, plus the short story Yona and the Beast. I did attempt to draw both Yona and the calliston from the story, but I was unhappy with the result. Maybe my skills will get better in the next year and I will have another go.
I still have a huge amount to learn, especially drawing people.
I am still writing series two and so have not yet worked on the covers. In series one, the common motif (which you will see on the back and spine of the paperbacks) is the drawing of Johnson Farthing looking up to the sky, presumably at a dragon.
I will use the same trick in series two, except it will be the character of a goat herder and cheese maker called Silvi. Series two is set five hundred years later than the first series, so it is full of new characters and new challenges. However, it is still the same world, and I will keep to a similar style of a painted background and the use of maps though the colours will vary.
So, there you go; new covers and I hope plenty of new readers. The Dirt books have been downloaded over a thousand times now on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble in particular and I hope the new covers will help readers discover it through iBooks and Kobo a little more too.
Go and grab your copy, or even update your existing one!