The ruiners of bliss

Last week I explained in my usual half-assed, rough-and-ready way, my intention to self-publish. Now I need to confront my demons. I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve no experience and no talent. And I want to do it properly. In my way stand three great enemies. They must be vanquished before I can proceed. They are:

  • Ignorance
  • Impatience
  • Indolence

and they are the ruiners of bliss.

I’m not bothered about formatting. Although the word ‘Styles’ with regards to MS Word still fills me with trepidation, and though I’ve never been closer than a basilisk’s glance from Createspace or any such software, I can cope with technical demands of formatting. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it, even if it means going through my manuscript paragraph by paragraph and uplifting a chunk at a time.

No, what fills me with fear is the idea of creating a cover.

I have no artistic talent. I have no skill with Photoshop or any of the other magnificent cover-generating softwares. I have ideas – some possibly even good – and I know what I want. I can see the finished cover in my mind. But how to get from a vision to a reality? I am ignorant. And I don’t want to spend months learning new skills when it feels like a distraction from my real work. Nor do I want to pay to have it done for me. It’s not so much that I resent spending money (although I do), but that I want to do it myself – at least the thrashing-out of the plan, the original outline, which someone better than me subsequently polishes up.

I am also afraid of approaching a stranger. There is a touch of the misanthrope about me. People are scary.

I am ignorant of the ways of art. I am indolent in that I don’t want to take the time to develop said skills. And I am impatient to get it done whilst I have a bit of free time and a mind focussed on the project.

I am also determined not to put out a half-assed job. There are a lot of bad covers out there. I don’t want my work to be considered in their ranks.

So what do I do? The real enemy is not the task in front of me. It is in my head. That strange combination of cluelessness and possessiveness. This is my baby. I just have no idea how to present it at its best; shit, snot and vomit-free.

I want it all. I want a great job done without taking any time to learn how to do it and without spending any money. Is that really too much to ask?

2 thoughts on “The ruiners of bliss

  1. I’ll tell you the truth on how I created the covers of my two books: it was all about focusing on knowing exactly what I wanted, and really, a hell of a lot of guesswork. I did some searching on Shutterstock for a nice photo that would tie in with the story, some cropping it into the shape and size of a book (I used Photoshop, pretty much any photo editor software can do this), and about a half hour’s worth of fiddling with fonts and word placement over it using a website called PicMonkey (using the free version, natch). I posted the outtakes on my blog and shared them with a few friends, asked for their input, and then chose the final picture.

    All told: about two hours’ work, a lot of eyeballing and futzing around to make it look pretty, some basic knowledge of color theory (Google ‘color wheel’ and that’ll help you decide what colors work good together), and $41 USD for a batch of 5 high-res downloadable pictures from Shutterstock.*

    * Hint: I save the watermarked versions of multiple possible pictures, and do rough outtakes first to see if it works. Then I’ll download the hi-res version, which you can use for up to 500k copies, I believe. So yeah…I’ve only downloaded 2 of those 5 so far, because I’m notoriously cheapass and want to save them for future covers!

    That said…there will be some money-spending involved, no getting around that…but if you can get away with it, you can certainly be creative about how you can spend as little as possible. I think I’ve spent maybe about $200 total for the first book…and most of that was paying a fee for having it featured on an ebook website ( for a week. 🙂

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I really appreciate your story. I’ve had a look around a few (free) photosourcing websites and can’t find what I’m after, so my current plan is to use a 3D modelling program to get an image I can play with on other software. But I’m just beginning; hopefully I’ll have some failures to put on here before too long! The actual text, layout and formatting will come later.

      As I said, I’m not against spending money if I have to. What I’m really after is a ‘proof of concept’; to see if my idea will work as a cover at all. Whatever I actually release, and however it’s produced, I want to do this part myself to just to learn what can be done


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