Production Covers and NEW Afterwords: Arhel Trilogy, and Sympathy for the Devil

First, I’ve decided to write a new afterword for every one of my books I reprint. One of the things I did last week. 😀 I had a lot of fun writing them, and got to talk about the experience of writing them, and then working with them again years later.

I also got the entire Arhel Trilogy finished in CreateSpace (awaiting proofs), along with the third version of Sympathy for the Devil.

ALL the covers underwent some major morphing—I discovered that borders don’t work for CreateSpace, and as a result, was forced to completely rethink my whole Arhel Trilogy design, to the serious benefit of the books.

Take a look at the new covers. The Arhel covers are complete overhauls. They have some of the same elements, but a much livelier feel.

The Sympathy for the Devil cover has a blue sky, courtesy of the “no borders” issue, and again, I think benefits from it.

All images are clickable so you can see the larger version.

The NEW Fire in the Mist

The NEW Fire in the Mist

The NEW Bones of the Past

The NEW Bones of the Past

The NEW Mind of the Magic

The NEW Mind of the Magic

The NEW Sympathy for the Devil

The NEW Sympathy for the Devil

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

35 comments… add one
  • Joy Nov 4, 2011 @ 7:03

    The versions without the borders look much better without the borders, I can see why you chose the second option.

  • Annie Anderson Nov 3, 2011 @ 13:18

    Holly,
    I think they look much better without the borders, personally. Much cleaner looking. This will translate well to printed covers.

  • Sylvia Nov 1, 2011 @ 9:07

    Holly,
    I, too, love the new covers. Can’t do better than the other commenters – they pop!

  • MaryN Oct 31, 2011 @ 16:25

    I really like the new covers. The old ones were nice but the new designs and bold solid colors create a great dynamic effect. The knotted background graphic keeps the series feel going strong. Your changes are great!

  • Eliza Oct 31, 2011 @ 14:21

    Ooh! I especially like the Fire in the Mist revamp.

    • Holly Nov 1, 2011 @ 5:51

      I owe Tim Walker and a comment he made about my first FITM cover for that.

      He noted that the image from it didn’t move him…and as I thought about it, I realized it didn’t move me, either. Reading back through the book, I realized the most visually compelling single-image components to the story were the cats with hands and the wingmounts. And you cannot find silhouettes of cats with hands on BigStockPhoto.com.

      So wingmounts it was. 😀

  • Cassie Oct 31, 2011 @ 14:01

    Awesome covers Holly! I agree that they look better without the borders. One thing I’ve noticed in my (limited) experience with design is borders tend to make things look smaller and more enclosed. This is not necessarily something you want to do if your going for a “clean” design that pops. Also, I think borders make your piece look more busy even if it’s not.

    Anyway, grats on the new covers. I’m looking forward to getting these books in ebook format and reading your new afterword. 🙂

    • Holly Nov 1, 2011 @ 5:58

      I just got the .epub proofs back from Hitch for the trilogy. I have to go through those, then send back the proof pages, after which I’ll get the .mobi files.

      When THAT’s done, if the print versions also come out okay, the whole trilogy will go live. I figure another week or so.

  • Kit Russell Oct 31, 2011 @ 12:58

    Wow! Those new covers just POP!

  • Reetta Oct 31, 2011 @ 12:31

    The new covers look really good. They catch the eye and look modern. Everything is easy to read.

  • Bill Seidel Oct 31, 2011 @ 12:12

    Liked the old covers, love the new covers.

    Could this be called “writers without borders”. Sorry, it was there…

    I enjoy the newsletters, thank you!

    • Holly Nov 1, 2011 @ 5:56

      “Writers without borders…”

      Ouch. 😀

  • Laraine Anne Barker Oct 31, 2011 @ 11:04

    I’m very impressed, Holly. Interesting that you don’t do your work in Photoshop. I’ve designed a few CD covers (strictly for my own use, alas) and I did it all in Photoshop. But I’m still stuck on CS2, which I bought second-hand. I’m going to hate it when all software comes only in downloadable form.

    I love the passion in your writing. It makes even your emails irresistible. 🙂

    • Holly Oct 31, 2011 @ 12:06

      I started out with Dreamweaver and Fireworks, way back when I was using both on Windows machines.

      I still use both because I know how to use them. My objective is to get really good at the things I do, but to not duplicate the massive effort of learning how to be good across multiple, very expensive platforms. Fireworks meets my needs, so I stick with it.

  • Jan Biggs Oct 31, 2011 @ 10:31

    Holly, I really like the new covers. Did you do them yourself or did you have a designer do them for you? They’re really great.

    • Holly Oct 31, 2011 @ 10:38

      Thank you. I did them myself.

      I used Fireworks, ArtText 2, and BigStockPhoto.com to do them.

      So far, I’ve done all my covers myself, because I’m on a hellish budget, and the professional work I AM paying for—because I cannot do a spectacular job myself, and do not want to invest the time in learning to do a spectacular job myself—is getting the books professionally formatted for iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

      I know Smashwords’ Meatgrinder is free, but it does a crappy job, and I want better than that for my readers. Besides, Smashwords takes a percentage of every book on top of the percentage you’re paying to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc., and I’m not interested in tying myself into that.

      • Michelle Oct 31, 2011 @ 18:08

        Unfortunately we non-US authors have little choice about this. Amazon will only pay non-US contributors in cheques and only when you’ve made $100, which my bank charges 15% to convert. B&N don’t deal with anyone who hasn’t got a US bank account – read pretty much every non-US country. So Smashwords is pretty much it if I want to get my stuff out there.

        • Holly Nov 1, 2011 @ 5:55

          Yeah, there are some serious self-pub advantages to living in the US.

      • Athena Grayson Oct 31, 2011 @ 19:15

        You can opt out of the distribution for Amazon and B&N if you use the Smashwords meatgrinder. You’ll get the benefits of Smashwords distribution to the smaller markets and the international markets/formats without the extra percentage taken off your AMZ/BN editions. Plus, Smashwords allows you to generate coupons that allow you to offer discounts or free copies as giveaways without affecting the algorithms that the others use to price-match.

        For anybody who’s going the SW/AMZ/BN distribution route, my best lesson learned was to not use the meatgrinder file for AMZ or B&N.

        • Michelle Nov 1, 2011 @ 23:29

          Thanks for the advice, Athena, much appreciated. Still a newbie on the great ebook adventure…

  • Lewinna Oct 31, 2011 @ 10:17

    Oh wow. Those covers jump for you right away! I already like them much better.

  • Wendy Scott Oct 31, 2011 @ 9:25

    Sans borders, the covers are cleaner — thumbs up! 😀
    One caveat to the border question — if you are using a pale or white background for a digital cover design, a border will improve visibility, especially when the image is reduced to thumbnail size, for eg at Amazon.

    • Holly Oct 31, 2011 @ 10:42

      Yeah. That’s why, on the Sympathy for the Devil cover, the background went from white to blue.

      I tried to capture, from memory, the color of the sky in North Carolina in October for that blue. It was my favorite time of the year when I lived there, and the month in which the story takes place.

      SFTD also starts on my birthday, which I did because I thought it was pretty funny.

  • Carol Oct 31, 2011 @ 8:28

    I must say that I prefer the borders on these graphic covers (vs the paintings on the non-self published versions, being the copies I own). The borders tie the books in the series together better and make the images seem more polished. Maybe that’s just me though.

    • Holly Oct 31, 2011 @ 10:43

      Unfortunately, you can’t do covers with borders with CreateSpace. It’s not a matter of preference. They simply won’t approve your cover if it has a border. So I had to find a workaround.

      I liked the borders, but being forced to design covers without them, I was really surprised by how much better the images popped out.

      • Danzier Oct 31, 2011 @ 11:04

        I like the workaround on the Arhel books. The original design looked rather like Celtic knots to me; this way the “knitted” design ties into the story more, and that element isn’t completly gone from the cover.

  • Kelly A. Harmon Oct 31, 2011 @ 8:28

    I think the borderless versions look great. They’re also much more readable, particularly in the smaller sizes.

    Thanks for the tip!

    • Holly Oct 31, 2011 @ 10:46

      Readability was the other huge advantage I noticed. I have copies of these on my desktop that are the size of my thumbnail, and they’re readable. The old versions weren’t even close.

      So these pass Jim Baen’s “stand across the room and spot your book on a filled bookshelf” test, and the others really didn’t.

  • Eileen Clifford Oct 31, 2011 @ 8:20

    I like both versions of your covers, but prefer the new ones, overall, because they’re more ‘alive’, if you know what I mean.

  • donna morang Oct 31, 2011 @ 8:17

    Love the new covers! Much less distracting and more vivid. You have a winner.

  • SE Shurtleff Oct 31, 2011 @ 8:17

    Sleek, dynamic and attractive. Perfect.

  • Carrie Anne Oct 31, 2011 @ 7:53

    I think the new cover designs look wonderful. Borders would detract from the artwork, for sure. Thanks for the tip!

  • Lynda Miller Oct 31, 2011 @ 7:50

    I love the clean designs of your books. Great Work!
    Lynda Miller

  • Sue Santore Oct 31, 2011 @ 7:41

    I do like the Arhel books better without the borders. Thanks for the tip because I was thinking along the “borderline” for my current book.

    • Holly Oct 31, 2011 @ 12:10

      If you decide to use CreateSpace, you’ll be SO glad you skipped the borders. Redesigning the covers from scratch because you CANNOT get CreateSpace to accept borders is no fun, let me tell you.

      I tried to get the borders to go through. A lot. Finally, I bowed to the inevitable and redid everything.

      I’m just happy it worked out so well.

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