Monday, January 31, 2011


These days authors not only have to take up more and more of the tasks publishers used to handle -- mostly publicity and promotion -- but they're also being asked to provide ideas for jacket art. And if they self-publish their books, they either have to hire artists to create jackets or design the covers themselves.

My fourth Steve Martinez novel, Hang Fire, is still making the rounds in New York, but it seems increasingly likely that I'll have to self-publish it later this year as an e-book with, Barnes & Noble and Apple.

Even e-books need covers, not only at the head of the text but also in promotional materials. So I've started fooling around with ideas.

Hmmm. For a first try with Photoshop Elements, let's keep it simple.

The most salient visual characteristic of the story is muzzle-loading arms, especially the British Army "Brown Bess" musket of the eras of the Revolutionary War and of Lewis and Clark (1800-1840). (I wrote about handling a genuine Bess on January 11.)

There are lots of free online photographs, many of them uncopyrighted, of the Brown Bess. And there are lots of free online "colonial" fonts such as Caslon Antique.

Combine a Bess with Caslon Antique and three colors, and we get the cover at upper right.

Not bad. But could it be improved? Probably.

You got any ideas? If so, let's hear them. I'm thinking, for instance, that that yellow background should be paler, almost pastel.

I'm also thinking that "A Steve Martinez Mystery" or "A Porcupine County Mystery" ought to go under the author's name.


  1. Very nice, Henry, but how can we offer ideas for the cover if we haven't read the book yet?


  2. I like the bright cover. I think you should include "A Steve Martinez Mystery" on the cover.
    I am still hoping you'll find a (paper) publisher and not have to self publish. You are already an established author and some smart house should pick it up. Good luck!