Not Being An “Artist,” I’ve Taken My Best “Shots”

That post I wrote yesterday about that cover of that, errr, “erotica” novella having created a logo dispute with the Chicago Teachers Union, encouraged me to take time afterward in the day to finish off the Distances cover “officially.”

We’ve all bought books. We know it’s usually the first “contact” we have with one. The cover can be the difference between attracting us to the book…. or not.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a modern art painting.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a modern art painting.

As a writer, you could be the next “big thing,” but if the cover’s lousy quite a few people who are put off by it will never learn that. When you indie publish, the decision falls to you. When I was considering what to do for a cover for Passports back in 2013, new to all this, I had searched through hordes of “stock photo” possibilities, including human models. Frankly, most of what I saw was dreadful stuff that made me groan.

I’ve written here before that I’ve found quite a few indie books have absolutely awful covers – they look so amateurish. Even if the story is excellent, the cover hurts it. That’s why I decided eventually to rummage through, and use, old photographs. Yes, they may not be “art” technically, I know, but they are at least 1) mine and 2) real.

For Passports, I’d thought the double-flag photo was “cool.” I chose to work it into the storyline too. It’s simple, it reduces well to a thumbnail (you have to remember that; if a cover’s too “cluttered,” the thumbnail will look weird on Amazon and elsewhere online), and it stands out:


For Frontiers, perhaps I went a tad too “obscure.” However, I really loved that “Our Lady” photo with the clear blue sky above, and thought it also went with the story. It too got a direct mention in the storyline:


Now, the “finale.” Shortly, it’s the third book: Distances.

A famous landmark. In the foreground, a singer of some unidentified nationality was shooting a music video. [Photo by me, 1996.]
A famous landmark. In the foreground, a singer of some unidentified nationality was shooting a music video. [Photo by me, 1996.]

For this one, I’ve decided I’d go with a full-on, total cliché, recognize it from space, everyone knows what it is, photograph of the Eiffel Tower…. with, for something “unique” just for my cover, that woman singer in the foreground:

Planned “Distances” cover.

Remember, I didn’t know who she was? Remember what I’d asked back in long ago February?:

Anyway, I throw this out to the great, wide internet of 2015 in case any of you dropping by might know. Does she ring any bells? Woman singer, probably in her 20s to early 30s (in 1996), Mediterranean (Greek? maybe even Turkish?), North African, or Middle Eastern …. in a music video singing passionately and dramatically in front of the Eiffel Tower?

Well, I still don’t know who she is. Oh, well, I guess we may never learn her identity. That doesn’t really matter, of course: our world is full of unanswered questions.

Naturally, the Eiffel Tower gets lots of mentions in this volume too. (As in the first two books.) In the end, the photo overall is perhaps historical and romantic in its way – that 35mm snapshot that caught that fleeting moment in time seems to make an appropriate front cover for the 3rd volume of this trilogy. But, as I’ve also said, while this is the 3rd book, the story’s probably not finished quite yet.

Come to think of it, I suppose that’s all “art,” after all? 😉

Have a good Tuesday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂