Monday, January 2, 2012

Cards on the Table Cover Contest

As most of you know I'm currently in the process of taking back many of my titles as the rights come up for renewal with various publishers. It's nothing personal, it's just that the publishing industry has changed so much in the past 18 months that it makes sense to retain control of my work. It's a financial decision, plain and simple. I don't want to kill myself trying to make a living at my writing, and I can make more money, and also in some cases keep the cost down for readers, if I eliminate the middleman.

Anyway, as the rights to these books revert to me, I'm having the stories copyedited once more, reformatted, and then converted. The titles will appear on Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, All Romance Ebooks and the Smashwords site (which offers pretty much every format you could require).

Obviously, I'm learning as I go -- I never planned on being my own publisher -- but so far so good. I love the new covers on my reverted titles. The wonderfully talented LC Chase is doing a lot of the new art (including the Dangerous Ground series), much in demand Lex Valentine at Winterheart Designs   did the well-received cover for Until We Meet Again, and the enigmatic and brilliant Kanaxa is redoing the Adrien English series. It's so good to finally have control of the cover art for my work, I can't even tell you.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to do another cover art contest for Cards on the Table, which reverts back to me this month. (The last one I did was for In a Dark Wood, and the winner was LC Chase, which according to LC started her off a whole second career as a cover artist!)

So we'll do the same deal here. I'm offering $50 in prize money to the winning artist along with cover credit and a good bit of exposure and promotion.

Here's the technical stuff:

Please provide a Jpeg with the following Dimensions:
• Image dimensions of at least 500 by 800 pixels.
• A maximum of 2000 pixels on the longest side is preferred
• Ideal height/width ratio of 1.6
• Save at 72 dots per inch (dpi) for optimal viewing on the web


Color
Product images display on the Amazon website using RGB (red, green, blue) color mode. RGB is the color mode native to the web and many color screen displays, as these three colors displayed at varying levels of intensity create over 16 million colors.

Use color images whenever possible and relevant. The Kindle reading device has a black and white screen today but Kindle applications for other devices, such as iPhone or PC, take advantage of color fonts and images.

Borders for White Cover Art
Cover art with white or very light backgrounds can seem to disappear against the white background. Adding a very narrow (3-4 pixel) border in medium gray will define the boundaries of the cover.

If you haven't read the story, you can see an excerpt on my website. A reporter tries to solve a decades old mystery with the help of his ex-lover cop. Possible artistic elements include the murder of a 1950s starlet, tarot cards, astrology, palm trees and Old Hollywood.

The way it works is you do up a cover and submit the link in the comment section below. You can submit as many covers as you like. Just remember that the cover needs to look good thumbnail sized as well as full size.

The contest will end on the 20th so I can pick that weekend and then send it off to my faithful Virtual Assistant for conversion. Feel free to ask any questions below!

Fingers crossed that we receive even half as many wonderful entries as we did last time. Good luck!

59 comments:

  1. Sadly I have NO artistic talents (altho I can & will admire the beautiful covers) but I think this is a great idea on your part! Will be fun to see the end result.

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  2. I do love cover art, so it's always a kick to see what others come up with for my stories.

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  3. The covers for In a Dark Wood were brilliant, I wish I could do art work, sadly my skills lie in reading the finished words!

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  4. Alright--this is impossible for me--so I will merely wish the best of luck to the contestants--and tell you to have a blurb writing contest sometime--now that I might be able to do--LOL!

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  5. The last one I did was for In a Dark Wood, and the winner was LC Chase, which according to LC started her off a whole second career as a cover artist!

    Yes! I will absolutely attest to that! I definitely owe it all to you, Josh. :-)

    Good luck to everyone participating this year. I can't wait to see the submissions!

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  6. Here is my first one. So much fun to make it
    http://img689.imageshack.us/img689/5559/kristelcover1.jpg

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  7. Now why on earth would I make fun of that?! It's very nicely done.

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  8. Jan, I have zero talent in this direction either. And sometimes my ideas for covers are frankly Not Good.

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  9. Thank you, Sammy. I pride myself on knowing enough not to try and do the stuff I'm not good at doing. ;-)

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  10. Thanks, LC. I can truly say a good cover artist is worth her or his weight in gold.

    Cover art continues to matter enormously in the digital age.

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  11. It's great that you are taking back your titles. I have your books that are Kindle lendable enabled on my lendable list. When someone requested Dark Tide, it would not work, even though lending was enabled. Have you decided to disallow lending on your titles? If so, I'll remove them from my list. Thanks, Alb

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  12. Hi Ab,

    Dark Tide was available for loan when I was publishing through Loose Id, but Amazon does not allow self-pubbed authors to be part of the lending program unless they only sell exclusively through Amazon.

    Can you smell -- er, spell -- monopoly? So the titles I am publishing will not be available for loan -- but that's Amazon's choice, not mine.

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  13. Reading the excerpt I got strong 60s, 70s vibe, the sun-bleached image of Southern California of David Hockney paintings, and movies made of novels of Raymond Chandler and Ross McDonald. All bright, bold primary colors. I'm afraid, my concepts bear little resemblance to traditional m/m covers. Here they are:

    http://louharper.com/cards.html

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  14. Few more from me
    http://img717.imageshack.us/img717/8145/cover2ln.jpg
    and
    http://img406.imageshack.us/img406/9831/cover3k.jpg
    I was tempted to replace the pic of a man with a an otter or mink instead.
    I really hope that we get that drawing cover. Now THAT would be unique!!!

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  15. I dropped by your blog cause I wanted to know when Blue Moon would be available but as a graphics designer and big fan of your books I wasn't able to resist coming up with a cover design.

    http://img833.imageshack.us/img833/6131/cardcover.jpg

    The watermark in the cover which won't be there in the finished design.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Enny,

      If you see this message, can you drop me a line?

      Delete
  16. Enny, I am in love with your work! Really really good!

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  17. Yikes! This is hard work! {:^D HA!
    (But at least I got to read the story again!)

    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/692/jlcottbrainseisurewaves.jpg/

    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/35/jlcott.jpg/

    My two sets! Thank you Josh! (For both the story and the fun contest!)

    I need to seriously learn how to use these photo manipulation programs! (But I don't want to have to go back to college!)

    Golden tiles free here:
    http://soninn.deviantart.com/art/Wallpaper-Golden-Tiles-135059915

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  18. Kristel, that's so nice!

    One thing I have learned since I started releasing my own work is that images of men, one or two at a time, do seem to work better than more abstract images, although I am generally more drawn to the more abstract images and concepts.

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  19. Enny, that's quite beautiful and I do really like that color palette.

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  20. Oh -- and Blue Moon has been postponed till 2013. Assuming I return to writing at all.

    WHICH I do think I will do although I am in a weirdly disassociated mood right now. :-)

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  21. Constance, how very creative you are! I love the brainwaves. :-)

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  22. Not new, just direct links!

    http://img35.imageshack.us/img35/2754/jlcott.jpg

    http://img692.imageshack.us/img692/5572/jlcottbrainseisurewaves.jpg

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  23. "It's so good to finally have control of the cover art for my work, I can't even tell you."

    I can only imagine. Some of the cover art out there - romance in general, but especially erotica and m/m - is truly terrible. Or boring. I do love the new Adrian English covers - so moody and dramatic.

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  24. I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this, but I had a question regarding one of your e-books. I recently bought The Dark Tide as a Nook book from B&N, but when I opened it on my reader (I have the Nook 1st edition), it's automatically set at a HUGE font size that's pretty much unreadable for me (maybe two sentences a page, tops), and it won't let me make it any smaller since it says it's already on the Extra Small setting. Is there a way to fix this? I'd like to be able to enjoy the book!

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  25. Oh, looks like the same issue holds for Death of a Pirate King. I've really enjoyed this series so far, so I'd like to be able to read the next two on my Nook as well. Thanks!

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  26. I'm sorry to hear that! I'm not familiar with the Nook although my SO has one and the files seem to be okay on his. I'll ask if he has any idea why the text is showing up so large.

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  27. Thanks, DP. Yes, those new covers are wonderful, I have to agree. I love them.

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  28. Ooh, love Lou Harper's entries.

    Here are mine:
    http://skyewarren.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/joshlanyon1.png
    and, my personal favorite,
    http://skyewarren.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/joshlanyon2.png

    Take care, all!

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  29. Ok, I'm coming in with my eyes closed. (- said like everything else I've done for the first time. LOL.)

    I was afraid if I viewed the other submissions it would affect my work, so, with no idea how bad these will be, here goes. I still have one more unfinished, but should be done by Sun.

    Hope I'm linking these correctly.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/laughnoutloud/BookCovers/Book2copy7.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/laughnoutloud/BookCovers/Book3copy2.jpg

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  30. Good job Karan. I kept trying to bring in the pool but didnt know how. I wanted to place the knife into the pool and cover it with layers of pool texture to make it look like it's in the bottom but no matter how I tried I couldn't make it work. But you brought the pool in so effortlessly!


    Josh, looking at the selection you have already I think it will be one of your best if not THE best cover yet!

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  31. It was fun making a cover for one of my favorite stories of yours! I decided to go for a simple design:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v210/smashinginred/card.jpg

    The wood texture was free, the card is public domain and the gun photo comes from someone who's given his permission as long as he's credited. I can definitely provide links as proof and forward his email, in case you need confirmation :)

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  32. Not sure how to edit a comment, or if it's possible. I realized one of my links in the last post was incorrect. So sorry. I posted the image without the copyright tag/photo logo. I need to keep that in for now. It wouldn't be in the final project. Here is the correct link.

    The model image on the other cover is free as long as credit is given to the photographer.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/laughnoutloud/BookCovers/Book3copy4.jpg

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  33. I tried to capture a little noir vibe. I hope you like it.

    http://i782.photobucket.com/albums/yy102/JaredCole/Q2FyZHNvbnRoZVRhYmxlLUxhbnlvbi5qcGc.jpg

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  34. Last one. I wanted an old style tarot card with two male figures and had no luck finding one. I decided to create one of my own. At least I don't have to worry about royalties with this one. ;-)

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/laughnoutloud/BookCovers/BookCover5fixed.jpg

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  35. This is the same cover as above, only with slightly altered coloring on the card.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/laughnoutloud/BookCovers/BookCover5.jpg

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  36. Hi everyone!

    Trying to stay off the computer as much as possible on the weekend, but I have to jump in to say I am really liking the cover submissions so far. So much great work!

    I really appreciate the enthusiasm and the creativity.

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  37. Solarsister, I've continued trying to research your issue, but the only thing I can find is when the publisher sets the font so that it cannot be changed. While we do set the font style, there's no specification regarding changing the size, so I'm still not sure what the issue is.

    I'm assuming you've already tried to change under SETTINGS --> READER SETTINGS?

    Yours is the first time I've come across this issue, so maybe someone else with a Nook can jump in here?

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  38. I thought I was done but it really is fun!
    http://img100.imageshack.us/img100/7914/cover5e.jpg
    Freebies all images and decorations. This one took me the longest!

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  39. Wonderful, Krissu!

    If you've noticed, I've stopped promoting the contest because there are already so many wonderful covers here. It kills me I can only pick one.

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  40. I agree!
    I myself am rooting for Enny! I think his cover is dripping from professionalism. The rest are still very good but for me he has this extra umph.
    All in all, I don't envy you! This contest is only half way through and it's already a huge success.One bright side of self publishing - the ability of turning down excellent work :-)

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  41. Nope, I'll accept them right up until the 20th at midnight (PCT).

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  42. This is Mika Star from the LJ posts. Were you able to view my cover? (get to it from the link I mean?) It's been awhile since I needed someone to look at something from my photobucket.

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  43. Wow, fantastic stuff on here! I thought I'd give it a go as my Photoshop fingers were itching and I'm a big fan! So, here we are:

    http://i1258.photobucket.com/albums/ii524/charliecochet/Book%20Covers/CardsOnTheTableJoshLanyonbookcover1fullsizebyCharlieCochet.png

    http://i1258.photobucket.com/albums/ii524/charliecochet/Book%20Covers/CardsOnTheTableJoshLanyonbookcover1fullsizebyCharlieCochet.png

    Good luck to everyone!

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  44. Mika, I don't see a link -- is it at LJ or did you send me a separate email?

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  45. I reeeeally like the ones from Lou Harper! And the third one from Kristell is also really good. :D
    You'll have a hard time choosing I guess... :P

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  46. Hi Josh, I have a Kindle and I always convert all my e-book downloads through the free downloadable program Calibre. It works very well to convert the print to the size I like. It may work well for Solarsister. I don't have a cover to submit for you but I wanted to say I love the book, and all your work.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for that tip, Anonymous.

      And thank you for the kind words.

      Delete
  47. Here is the link again. =)
    http://s215.photobucket.com/albums/cc14/StarLady_85/Cover%20Contest/?action=view&current=JL-CardsontheTableCover.jpg

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  48. Almost the eleventh hour, but here are my suggestions. I attempted to create a different feel in each one while representing elements of the story. I really enjoyed
    doing these!

    http://img36.imageshack.us/img36/2585/cottpalmsnew.jpg

    http://img696.imageshack.us/img696/9079/cottbodycopy.jpg

    http://img32.imageshack.us/img32/4063/cottsplattercopy.jpg

    http://img337.imageshack.us/img337/2120/cardsonthetable5.jpg

    http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/2216/cardseyes.jpg

    (The swimming and eyes are stock photos and the other images are in the public domain. The decorative fonts are free.)

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    1. Thank you! I'll still be looking at entries until midnight west coast time. It's going to be a tough choice as it is.

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  49. Hey Josh,

    I haven't got any cover art to enter, but I just wanted to say that I'm ABSOLUTELY AMAZED by how talented, creative and so generous with their skills your fans are. I don't envy you having to pick just one, cos wow. Good luck though. =)

    BlueSimplicity

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