Category Archives: Cover Designs

In Search of the Perfect Cover Design

Just over a year ago, I wrote a couple of posts about my ideas for the cover of The Bluebell Informant. In those posts, I talked a little bit about the vision I had for the book and how I wanted my cover to stand out amongst all the other authors out there who are vying to find a place in the market.

Shortly after one of those posts, I was asked the following question and – at the time – I was a little stumped about how to answer it:

Why do you bother spending so much time working on your cover? Surely, if you just get a decent designer to make it for you, you don’t need to bother with all that? Why don’t you just focus on writing?

It’s a good question (well three questions really), and there are many authors asking the same thing. To my lasting regret, I wasn’t able to give this person a particularly great answer. I rambled on about how I had a set vision and I wanted everything to be just so, but in truth I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it. As the writer had suggested, I was planning on approaching a professional cover designer anyway, and – if they were any good – they really should be able to take my ideas and create something worthy of the story I wrote…

And therein lies the problem.

Finding that right designer is incredibly difficult. Just as there are thousands of authors desperately trying to get readers to read, there are thousands of cover designers trying to get authors to hire them to make their book cover. And, as with authors, some are good, some are bad and some are awful…

And now, in hindsight, I have the answer to these three questions. I have gone through quite a varied process with designing the cover for The Bluebell Informant and I am immensely thankful for the fact that I took the time a year ago to make some rather crude drawings so that I could get my ideas down on paper. Because – if I hadn’t done that – I’m not sure I would have ended up with the right cover now.

I approached a cover designer a few months ago to design the cover for The Bluebell Informant. He was a lovely chap, very helpful and very keen to make everything right for me – but he had the awful habit of calling me “sir”, which – despite my best efforts – is a habit he continues to do to this day.

I gave him a lot of reference material and sent him the sketches and crude photoshop version that I made of the cover, but I never felt like he really got it. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the cover, it just didn’t ever feel quite right and – despite trying to explain it to him – I eventually settled for a cover that I wasn’t entirely happy with.

Roll a few months later. I approached the same designer to create a cover for the Giles novelette that I will be giving away for free with The Bluebell InformantGotcha. I think I wanted there to be a continuity in the designs of my books. I wanted people to instantly recognise them as mine and using the same designer seemed like the best way of ensuring that. However, after a couple of drafts it seemed that I wasn’t quite going to get what I wanted for Gotcha either…

And then luck stepped in.

For some reason, and I’m not entirely sure why, the designer dropped out of the project for personal reasons. I took the opportunity to present the Gotcha project to another designer and the results I got were fantastic. Not only did she understand it from the off, but she also was able to replicate the tone of the piece and provide me with three different alternatives to pursue. Even though she was offering unlimited revisions, I ended up going for one of her designs with very little changes.

And then the idea struck me.

I invested a little bit more money and asked her to have a crack at designing the cover for The Bluebell Informant. And I think you’ll agree, the results are amazing. Again – she gets the tone right, the style right – and she even inadvertently built a subtle visual hint to the story into it as well.

But what has this got to do with my initial designs? If I line them up one by one, there is barely anything that links my first design to the final design except the presence of bluebells (and let’s be honest, with a name like The Bluebell Informant that can hardly be a surprise). And yet, if I hadn’t made those initial drawings, I wouldn’t have quite been able to put my finger on what was wrong with the first cover I had commissioned.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-21-35-51So, yes, I would always say use a professional. And I would also say try one or two people as well because individual skills and styles play a huge amount into the production of a successful cover design. But most importantly, have a clear idea of what you want the design to look like, and use the designer who is able to show you that you were wrong, whilst still keeping the essence of your idea…

Because those are the ones who are worth their weight in gold…

The Bluebell Informant will be available to download for free from 7th April, 2017. Those who do grab a copy will get Gotcha for free as well!

Advertisements

A little update…

Things are really beginning to hot up here. At the moment I am neck deep in a ghost writing project, which should be finished in the next week or two, and then I’ll be ramping up my efforts in preparation for the release of my debut novel, The Bluebell Informant.

Now, as some of you may be aware, I’ll be releasing digital copies of The Bluebell Informant for free on the 7th April – but in the lead up to that I’ll also be releasing one or two little teasers whilst also finally getting round to launching my first ever Giles Case.

As part of the Giles Case, I’ll be challenging you – my readers – to follow the progress of one of Giles’ cases as she tweets each new development and to solve the crime for a chance to win two awesome prizes. The first is a free, signed copy of the limited edition of my highly acclaimed short story, Dressed to Deceive. And the second…?

Well, I’ll leave that announcement for closer to the time. But trust me – it will be worth entering the competition for.

And for those of you worried because you don’t use Twitter, you can still enter as I will be posting each day’s tweets on this blog and on Facebook so you can keep right up to date with all the latest developments.

But that’s not all.

In addition to all this cool stuff going on around the launch of The Bluebell Informant, I am also very pleased to announce that there will be an added bonus for you all to enjoy.

Every person who grabs a copy of The Bluebell Informant will also be able to download a copy of the next DS Giles story, a novelette called Gotcha. Again – for free!!

So – exciting times. So I thought I’d round off this set of announcements with a little look at Gotcha – or at least a look at the cover art for it.

I hope you’re excited as I am for this…

3dmockup1

Four Titles for 2017

Well, 2016 is nearly over.

Now is the time of year where people look back at the year gone by and think about what they’d like to change about themselves. Maybe they want to lose weight, or join a gym. Perhaps they want to finally write that novel they’ve been thinking about for five years. Maybe they want a new car, or a kid, or look for a new job, or give up chocolate, or only eat smoked salmon on special occasions…

Now comes the flurry of New Year’s Resolutions.

And, in a way, what I’m about to announce could be seen as a sort of New Year’s Resolution – but I like to see it more as a marketing plan…

So, without further ado…

It is my very great pleasure to announce that Detective Sergeant Evelyn Giles will leap into the published world this year!

That’s right, after nearly three years of wrangling with her – and two years of writing her first novel – The Bluebell Informant will be available to read from April this year!

But there’s more.

I’ll be releasing it for free!

That’s right – free!

But wait, there is still more to come.

The release of The Bluebell Informant will mark the start of a (punishing) release schedule over the next twelve months. Following in the wake of The Bluebell Informant, I intend to release not only the next instalment in the Giles series, The Court of Obsessions, but also a collection of my short stories AND the first in my Patrick Conroy series, The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow.

That’s right – four books of varying lengths will be released over the course of 2017.

I think it’s safe to say that 2017 is going to be a very tough, yet hopefully rewarding, year for me.

Want to be first to know when these books are being released?

Sign up to my Nick R B Tingley New Releases newsletter for more details.

In the meantime, I thought I’d leave you with something quite exciting – the cover art for
The Bluebell Informant.

3dmodel

Excited yet?

I know I am…

 

Exclusive cover for an exclusive book…

As promised, here is the cover of my short book, Dressed to Deceive, which will be one of several prizes up for grabs for whoever reviews, shares on social networks and otherwise helps me distribute the free version of my novel, The Bluebell Informant.

This free version is available to read online for a limited time only as I go through the beta testing process, but I am eager to get as many view points as I can so I can polish off the story and move forward with publishing it.

As well as a signed copy of Dressed to Deceive, participants can also be in the running for some original The Bluebell Informant concept art as well as other prizes that I will be announcing once the competition is in full swing.

To enter, just write a review or share the story and then contact me through Facebook, Twitter or this blog to let me know so I can add your entry to the list. Every share gets an additional entry into the competition so there are plenty of chances to win!

I heard a ringing bluebell, now I’m running for my life…

It is finally that time of year.

After waiting for several months for the opportunity to grab some shots for the cover of The Bluebell Informant, I finally managed it today.

The sun was out; it was a nice Sunday afternoon and spring is most definitely here. So Gemma and I headed down to a woodland close to Edenbridge, Staffhurst Wood, to snap some shots of the bluebells.

Apart from being a significant natural site, boasting 200 species of flora and 288 species of moth fauna (and of course being a site famous for its bluebells), Staffhurst Wood also shares another link with The Bluebell InformantIMG_2652

During the second world war, the woodland was used as an ammunition dump. Reportedly two bombs fell on the area during this time and vast amounts of the wildwood, which had stood on the spot for centuries (if not millennia), was felled to allow the military to use the site.

Now, of course, it has been returned to its natural glory – but this part of Stafford Wood’s history is echoed in the setting of The Bluebell Informant.

In the novel, DS Giles is sent down to Edenbridge to investigate a dead body found resting up against an old, second world war pillbox. The path leading up to his body is marked by a carpet of bluebells and, for Giles at least, the murder bears the hallmarks of a serial killer she thought was long gone…

The Bluebell Killer

A faceless murderer who doesn’t stick to a set method of killing people…

All he cares about is leaving a cutting of bluebells on his victims…

It sounds a little creepy, but this idea is very much based on an idea that survived through British folklore. Bluebells, likes so many other plants, had a variety of uses, both for humans and the animal and fantasy kingdoms and, as I embroiled myself in my research of this plant, I found myself surprised at some of the facts I unearthed…

So, without further ado, here is my top five facts about bluebells and the sometimes chilling stories associated with them…

  1. To hear a bluebell ringing is to walk with death…

According to folklore, hearing a bluebell ringing is never a good sign. The story varies from place to place, but they all agree that if you hear a bluebell ring, someone is going to die. Bizarrely though, some believed that if you wear a wreath of bluebells around your neck, you would be compelled to only speak the truth…

That being the case, I think our politicians should wear bluebell flowers round their necks all the time…

Just in case.

2. Bluebells make good glue 

Throughout the centuries, bluebells had been used to make glue. Bluebell sap was used to bind pages to the spines of books and, in the Bronze Age, bluebell glue was used to attach feathers to arrows. With one of those flying at you, I can now understand why ringing bluebells was seen as an omen of death…

3. You can’t pick a bluebell

IMG_2719.JPGUnder UK law, bluebells are classified as a protected species. As such, you are not allowed to uproot bluebells and any horticultural suppliers wanting to sell the plant have to apply for a licence and be able to demonstrate that they are collecting them from sustainable sources. Moreover, gardeners have to take special care to ensure that they don’t plant the non-native Spanish variety of bluebells near to native bluebell populations as the two will interbreed which would eventually lead to the extinction of our wild bluebells…

4. Bluebells are a good fashion accessory and could save your life

Well, sort of. In the Victorian era, bluebells were crushed to make starch which was then used to help stiffen the ruffs of the people’s collars and sleeves. On a slightly different note, the bulbs of bluebells were sometimes used in folk medicine and some extracts from the plant are similar to compounds tested for use in battling cancer and HIV.

5. Bluebells and fairies walk hand in hand

Again back to folklore. Back in a time when forests were seen as forbidding places – dark, creepy areas where no one would dare to tread, bluebells were associated with fairy enchantments. In fact, according to some of the tales, the reason why you die when you hear a bluebell ring, is because the ringing bluebells were used to summon fairies to gatherings – presumably the fairies didn’t like being spied upon by their human counterparts…

Anyway, that’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed this random fact-fest about bluebells. If you were looking carefully, you might have read a few hints about what to expect in The Bluebell Informant

Or maybe not…

You’ll just have to read it and find out.

IMG_2723.JPG

 

The Bluebell Informant Cover Design: Part 2

A week ago, I took my first few steps into the world of marketing.

The Bluebell Informant is close to being completed and is looking good for a late summer release and, as part of my marketing campaign, I am going to give a small insight into the stages I go through turning my novel into an eye catching book that people will want to pluck from the shelves.

Now, unlike many writers, I am a little bit ahead – mainly down to the fact that I have quite a good idea of what I want my front cover to look like. I also have the advantage that, whilst I am not the world’s greatest artist, I do have enough skill at being able to sketch what is going on in my head to be able to recreate how I think the cover should look.

In my last post on the subject, Part 1, I revealed the sketch that I drew for The Bluebell Informant to some generally favourable responses. Some of my colleagues even suggested that, armed with my sketch, I should start approaching cover designers to get it made properly – which I did eventually do, but only in so far as to enquire about the technical bits and bobs…

You see, whilst I have a clear idea in my head of how the cover could look, I have no idea whether the reality would be anywhere as good as I intend it to be.

I could find that the marvellous image I have in my head simply doesn’t look good in print. And, with that possibility in mind, I’m not about to go steaming up to a cover designer and pay good money for them to create it without having a fair idea in my own mind that it’s going to look good.

Thankfully, in addition to my minute artistic talents, I am competent enough on Photoshop to be able to make a basic attempt at turning my sketch into something more akin to the final product.

So I set about producing the cover image and this is what I came up with. I should point out at this stage that this is little more than a mood board image at the moment and will not reflect the final cover, but I think the elements are starting to come together.

What do you think?

TBI2

The Bluebell Informant Cover Design: Part 1

I think it is fairly safe to say that I am on the last stretch with The Bluebell Informant.

Having drafted and redrafted it, left it alone and redrafted it again, I am finally coming to the point where there are only a few little issues that I need to resolve before I am ready to put the first D.S. Giles story out into the real world.

I’m starting to look at novel and novella writing competitions, I’m looking up agents and publishers, and (most importantly) I am starting to plan my own marketing strategy and book promotion work…

This is where a lot of people get stumped.

‘Why are you bothering with the book promotion work?’ they ask. ‘If your story is any good, surely the publishers will do that all for you?’

Alas, and to my very great regret, that is no longer the case.

True, there used to be a time when the writer wrote the story, made the guest appearances and that would be the end to it. But nowadays, with so many people fighting to get their books in to the hands of the people who matter (i.e. the readers), publishers are now holding back their money and time for only the big named authors – you know the ones I mean, the authors you immediately think of when I say the word ‘fiction’.

Nowadays, it is largely left up to the author to promote their own work.

And why not?

No one knows the book better than I do. No one else can understand the intricacies of the story I am trying to tell. No one else can drop those little hints about the upcoming books that I haven’t even written yet…

So, rather than seeing it as a burden, I see it as an opportunity. And, as with any opportunity, I have to grasp it firmly with both hands if I want it to succeed…

This leads me to my little revelation of this week. I have been working on the cover for The Bluebell Informant

For those of you who have followed my exploits from the word go, you may remember that I don’t consider myself much of an artist. But I do have a very strong vision when it comes to what I would like to see on my book cover. As such, when I had a moment or two spare this week, I sat down with a selection of coloured pens and quickly sketched out what I think my front cover should look like – how I think the cover should address the themes of my story.

So, take a look – I’d love to know what you make of it (good or bad).

tbi cover