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Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Comedy of Covers, Part Huit

And you thought I would run out of stories about book covers.  Not hardly.  Because now I'm designing my own!  The only problem with this is that I am now the butt of any jokes I might make about clueless designers.  But I'm a big girl.  I can handle it.

When I decided to e-publish Wounded Earth, I decided to also test the waters with some short stories to which I hold the rights.  I published them all through Smashwords and Amazon's Kindle store, and set the lowest price those venues would allow.  So for $0.99 an intrepid reader can sample my work without plunking down $24.95 for a hardcover.  And for the e-reader-less--like me--the stories can be read on any computer.  Cool!

But I needed to come up with covers for these things.  A short story is a pretty compact piece of work, so you don't have much to work with, when you think about it.  Take "Mouse House."  It's about a security chief at a nameless theme park in central Florida with a castle and a man dressed up like Peter Pan.  Slapping a photo of Cinderella's Castle on the front of my e-book would quickly get me sued by someone with very, very deep pockets.  So I wasn't about to go there.

Creepy-looking generic public domain photos of castles weren't doing it for me.  Too much like a horror story.  One of the murder victims was poisoned, and I just didn't want to use the image of a middle-aged Mafioso face-down in his apple strudel, even if I could find one.  The other murder victim fell off the castle while doing a high-wire act dressed as Peter Pan, and I wanted to avoid the aforementioned lawsuit, so that was out.

Somehow, I stumbled onto a photo of a hand holding out three apples.  It was a very interesting photo, in that the hand didn't look like it belonged to a hand model, and the apples were a little shriveled.  It reminded me very slightly, subliminally, of the scene in Snow White when the old woman held out a poisoned apple.  This felt right.  The image absolutely didn't represent anything in the story, but it gave me the feeling I wanted the story to convey.  And that, my friends, is my definition of art--the conveyance of feeling from one human being to another.  Here's the cover:

I liked the cover so well, that when I decided to offer a mini-anthology of my short stories for the astounding price of $1.49, I adapted that cover.  I wasn't sure how many stories to include, so I let the cover dictate the answer--three apples and three stories.  And when I went to name the anthology, I took at look at that cover and came up with a fitting title, I think--Offerings.  Here 'tis:

Yet more cover stories tomorrow--happy reading!

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