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Career changing Covers Legal

Working With a Cover Artist, Part 2

It’s Time for Working With a Cover Artist, Part 2

There is more to the engaging of a cover artist part of working as an independent writer than just selecting an image or giving them an idea of what you want. Working with a cover artist involves some paperwork.

Working With a Cover Artist Should Mean a Contract

A lot of us get nervous talking about contracts and copyright and that is completely understandable. They seem difficult, complex, fraught with meaning, and all-too final. It feels like a prenuptial agreement sometimes – don’t you want to have faith that everything will work out all right?

Eh, not so fast.

This is not your great love (even if the cover artist is a friend or a relative). Instead, this is about rights. Your rights and the rights which belong to the artist.

The question is: who owns what? Without getting into the minutiae of copyright law just yet, this site offers not only a decent basic breakdown of the law in the United States, but also a good basic contract for a free download.

Are you all set now, and just have to fill in the blanks and you’re good to go?

Not exactly.

Cover Artist | Book cover basics | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Adventures in Career Changing
Book cover basics

Read over the agreement. If any of it does not make sense to you, talk to a lawyer! Even those of us not specially trained in copyright or contracts law can generally dope out an agreement. Further, in the US, you have got to have competence in Contracts Law in order to pass the Bar examination. It’s a basic part of the Multistate Exam. Hence even your friend the real estate lawyer should be able to answer your basic contract questions.

One Quick Tip

For the part of about State, County, and State, you want to write in your own state and county or parish. Why? Because if a lawsuit comes down, you will be a far happier person if you get to go to the courthouse in your county, instead of one potentially on the other side of the country. It will be far less expensive, and you will be far more likely to exert your rights if you feel they have been violated.

Second Quick Tip

Introduce the idea of a contract before the cover artist does anything. Make it clear you won’t engage them to do the work if the agreement is not signed, but also give them an opportunity to look it over and make changes to it (e. g. they might agree to a different-sized format, etc.). Note: this agreement is rather artist-centric. They probably won’t have much of a problem with it. But it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Be patient and pleasant like you would be with anyone; this is not you forcing the artist to do anything. But do insist on a signed agreement.

Changes

You might want to make changes to a design. You can spell those out in the contract. Should the artist charge you for any changes? They might; make sure all of that is in writing. See why it’s a good idea to know pretty much what you want before you start? It could come in handy for, say, an agreement that the first three changes are free.

Working With a Cover Artist Means Payments

Don’t pay it all up front, and don’t agree to do so. If you are absolutely, flat-out broke, you should still be able to pay something, even if the artist hand waves and doesn’t want anything for their work. Be good to your conscience and at least ask if you can make a small donation to one of their three favorite charities.

Otherwise, payments should be as specified in the agreement. Are they in dollars, Euros, bitcoins? Do you pay with a check, a credit card, Paypal, or something else? When is the first payment due? What percentage of the total is due at the time? What’s the mechanism for getting a refund if things don’t work out?

Recommendations

Do you absolutely love your cover? Or do you dislike it but still think the artist is great (e. g. sometimes our visions can clash)? Then find out where and how to recommend them, whether it’s a recommendation on LinkedIn or a review on Yelp. And be sure to tell your writer friends, too!

Be good to your cover artist, and they will reward you many times over.

Categories
Career changing Covers Legal

Working With a Cover Artist, Part 1

Let’s Look at Working With a Cover Artist

Have you ever worked with a cover artist?

It is like any business relationship, or it should be. Respect your cover artist, and they will help you. Don’t, and beware!

Get an Idea of What You Want Before You Start

covers cover design fonts
So, which fonts are on the covers in your genre?

So the last thing a cover artist wants to hear is, “Surprise me!” When they ask you how you envision your cover, you need to have an idea. One of the best ways to get such ideas is to browse Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and even your local bookstore. Look at the typical covers in your genre. Are they natural-looking? Industrial? Hand-drawn?

What are the predominant colors? Black and white? Green? Pink? Red? Something else? So are they angular, or are the shapes softer and more muted?

Use care!

Now we have all heard or read the expression, don’t judge a book by its cover.

Except that it’s absolutely untrue. We do judge books by their covers. All. The. Time.

Do Your Cover Artist a Favor and Do Some Research

If the covers in your genre’s section of the bookstore are all orange, should your cover be orange, too? It’s hard to say. You want it to look like it belongs in that section, right? But you also want it to stand out. I would say, if you are a new author and you are predominantly selling online, you need to consider how your work is going to look when it’s shown with others in the genre.

Perform an Amazon or Barnes & Noble search for your genre, and for any keywords related to your plot. If your book is a children’s work about a super-ocelot named Clive (please don’t steal this work. I suddenly have a wicked plot bunny ping-ponging around my head), then you could search under children’s works and then under superheroes or animal stories, etc.

It might even be helpful to take a screenshot, print it and then consider images which would fit in and images which would stand out.

Your Name

So, your name is probably not going to be recognizable to most people. While it is an important part of the cover, it might be better for the artist to make the title stand out more.

Cover Artist Contracts!

Oh, and another thing – be sure to have a written agreement with this person. Even something relatively informal, signed by both of you, is better than nothing. But why? Because you’re exchanging money for labor. And that means, sometimes, people sue.

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Career changing Covers Legal

Working with covers

Working with covers

Covers! Let’s say you aren’t working with a cover artist. Or maybe you are doing the covers work, and you have purchased the work and been given full rights to it, to do with it as you please. Or maybe your work is not selling, and you are looking to make your own cover or covers (perhaps with a unified theme). Not to worry.

Adventures in Career Changing | Fonts and Covers | Janet Gershen-Siegel
Let’s Check out Fonts and Covers

Making Your Own Covers (10 rules)

So you might find that this is the way to go. Also, this can be an option if you are a decent photographer or cannot afford a cover artist. However, seriously consider a cover artist just the same. Or try Fiverr if you’re really stuck!

But let’s say you are bound and determined to create your own cover art.

Some tips

  1. First of all, do yourself a favor, and use a program designed for this purpose. This means Adobe Photoshop or Adobe InDesign, or Gimp. Please don’t use Paint. This is because you just won’t have the options you would with these other programs I’ve listed.
  2. Go simple. Why? Because busy covers look terrible online, and they usually don’t look so hot in bookstores, either. Consider a main element from your story and go with that as your image. The Twilight novels use this to stunning effect.

Use the right images

  1. Use images which you have permission to use, always! Just because you can right-click on an image does not mean you have permission to use it! Here are three ways to assure you have permission to use an image:
    • Take the picture yourself.
    • Buy it from someone! Also, don’t forget to have a written agreement with them for usage.
    • Get it from a friend or relative who has taken it. Yet again: don’t forget to have a written agreement with them for usage.
  2. Don’t use a model unless you get a model release.

Working with images

  1. Make the image big! Scaling it down is possible. Scaling it up will result in a loss of quality.
  2. Consider what the image will look like if it any part of it is cut off. This is another argument in favor of simplicity.
  3. Consider what the image will look like on mobile devices.
  4. Never, ever use the word ‘by‘ unless you are referring to an ‘edited by‘ line. Otherwise, just use your name as the author name.

Fonts and verbiage

  1. If the title is in serif font, use sans-serif for your name, and vice versa, unless you are using the exact same font. E. g. don’t use two different serif fonts. They’ll look mismatched.
  2. Also, make sure your verbiage (title and author name) is readable! This means size and color, and sometimes outlining. Usually it helps if your image is more or less all one color or at least one color tint, tone, or shade. That, is make it all bright or all pastel or all muted, as that will make it easier for the verbiage to stand out and be readable.

Finally, practice! You aren’t going to turn out a great cover without knowing your program well.

You can do it!

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Book Reviews Covers Writing

Self-Review – Revved Up

Review – Revved Up

Revved Up rocks.

It’s the kind of story I tossed off rather quickly and then it kind of took on a life of its own.

Background

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Revved Up
Revved Up (exclusively on Wattpad)

This story started because I had stayed at my childhood home and noticed something odd in the front yard. And the truth is, it was nearly nothing. However, I sometimes have an overactive imagination, and so I took this idea and I ran with it.

What did I notice? It was only a few ruts near a flower bed. They were nothing, really, and were most likely made by a hoe or a rake. However, in my mind, I decided they would be tire tracks. And then the fun started.

The Plot of Revved Up

A holier than thou narrator tells the story to an unnamed police officer. The plot circles around the narrator’s elderly parents’ next-door neighbors. And the narrator refers to them as the POJ Family. That is, the “Pair of Jerks”.

As the story progresses, our narrator gets more and more self-righteous as the POJ Family continues to perform more and more outrageous acts in her parents’ sleepy, leafy Northern New Jersey suburban street (Note: my folks live on Long Island and they don’t even live in the inspiration house any more).

Sharp-eyed readers should be able to follow along, at least in part. The narrator keeps a lot of information close to the vest, so it pays, actually, to read the book again. And no, I’m not trying to inflate read counts.

Characters

No one is actually named in the story. The main character is the narrator, who is telling the story to an officer of the law. The other characters are her elderly parents, her son and daughter, various neighbors, and her next-door nemeses, the so-called POJ family.

The narrator is a divorced middle-aged woman and that’s all a reader learns about her. Her children are teenagers; her parents, elderly and coming to the time in their lives when they’re just about ready to move into assisted living.

As for the POJ family, they have a decidedly more earthy philosophy than our heroine. And so she takes matters into her own hands.

Memorable Quotes

I returned to my parents’ home and the three of us began washing the many plates – eighteen in all. My mother declared that perchance these city people did not understand our ways and so she carefully hand-lettered a number of delicately-worded thank you notes to everyone in the neighborhood. We knew who had provided the apple pie, the cherry cobbler and even the New York-style cheesecake.

Story Postings

The story’s sole posting is on Wattpad, where became a Featured Story a few years ago.

Rating for Revved Up

The story has a K rating.

Upshot for Revved Up

This story has had better traction than nearly anything I have ever written. With (as of the time of the writing of this blog post) over 58,000 reads and over 500 comments (many of which referenced the surprise ending), Revved Up remains an unqualified success. Of course having had Featured Story status helped a great deal.

Could I sell it? I have toyed with that idea, but the story is so odd and it’s really too short for a novel. Plus it does not really lend itself to a sequel. While sequels are far from necessary, it can help if that’s an option. But I am totally fine without one.

In addition, do you like this page? Tweet it!


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Career changing Covers Legal

Creative commons

Creative Commons and Whether You Can Use Certain Images

What is Creative Commons?

Their story is best told by them:

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

But this is not copyright! Instead, the concept exists to work with copyright, in order to help you refine the rights in your work. Also, it can work to help you understand the nuances of rights in others’ works. But which others? Cover artists and songwriters, to name two.

Can I use all of the images I find online?

Absolutely not. Just because you can right-click an image or take a screenshot does not mean you have the right to just take it. And do not get me started on wiping off someone else’s photographic watermark.

Just don’t do it. Don’t be a jerk.

Currently, CC specifies six separate types of licenses. So be sure to click and read the specifics!

  • Attribution CC BY – this is the most open of the licenses. It allows others to do nearly anything to a creative work.
  • Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA – this one is similar to CC BY. Except, it requires you attribute to the original artist. Wikipedia uses this one!
  • Attribution-NoDerivs CC BY-ND – you can pass along the work. However, you can’t alter it. And you must credit the creator.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC – you can alter the original work, but you must credit the original artist. Furthermore, you can’t make any money from the work.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA – this one is the same as CC BY-NC. Except, you must license any new creations under identical terms.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND – this is the most restrictive license, allowing for sharing. But attribution is required. Also, you cannot make any changes. Further, the sharer can’t make any money off the creative work.
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Career changing Covers

Color Theory, Part 4

Color Theory, Part 4

Color Theory, Part 4 – If you are interested in creating your own covers, or if you are a part of selecting your cover in your published work, you need to understand color theory.

Janet-Gershen-Siegel-Adventures-in-Career-Changing--CheatSheet4 Blue

What does it mean when you add blue to your cover?

The Basics

Color theory is the associations and impressions we get when confronted with a certain color or set of colors. Color matters.

Blue and its Family of Colors

Blue works as a lot of people’s favorite color. We associate it with both the navy and sadness. It is the color of both the sea and the sky. It is also has associations with the Union during the Civil War. A blue moon is a rarity. Winners get blue ribbons. We also associate blue with the Democratic Party, and with business, particularly conservative business attire. But it is also the color of blue jeans. Well-known blue books include the Uniform System of Legal Citation, Kelley’s used automobile values, and the Handbook of United States Coins.

Violet and purple are not exactly the same color, although we often use them as synonyms. Violet skews bluer; purple skews redder. And purple reminds us of gay pride, grapes, and Barney the dinosaur. Purple prose is overly flowery and ornate; we tend to see it as over the top. Both shades remind us of flowers; purple is more reminiscent of wine and cranberries.

Green is the color of early spring and Ireland. It is inextricably associated with both St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas, and is often associated with resurrection in culture, probably because of evergreens. Green reminds us of aliens (little green men!), sickness, and poison, but also limes and mint. It means go and was also the lowest level of terror threat according to Homeland Security.
Add green to your book cover and bring out nature or evoke business, or add purple to connect with gay pride. Or add blue for a conservative look, or to evoke the ocean or sky.

Upshot: Part 4

Colors are going to matter when it comes to your book cover. They can make or break your sales, so choose wisely.

Categories
Career changing Covers

Color Theory, Part 3

Color Theory, Part 3

For color theory, Part 3 – If you want to create your own covers, or if you are a part of selecting your cover in your published work, you need to understand color theory.

What happens when you select a cover color predominantly from the family of yellows?

The Basics of Color Theory, Part 3

Color theory is the associations and impressions we get when confronted with a certain color or set of colors. Color matters.

Yellow and its family of colors

Yellow is a vibrant color but it is rather difficult to see against a white background. If your cover is mainly white, yellow is a poor choice for author or title lettering unless you outline the yellow in a darker color.

We associate yellow with sunshine but also with lemons, which can evoke either cleanliness or a car that just never seems to work right. Yellow can also evoke cowardice and caution. It can also feel like early springtime, particularly in the northeastern United States. This is because two early flowers, forsythia and daffodils, are primarily yellow in color.

It can also remind us of taxis and urban living. But it can also remind us of Buddhist monks’ saffron robes, or even the spice saffron itself, which is rare and expensive. In science fiction, it signifies an intermediate alert, a cause for concern but not out and out panic. But we also use an amber alert for locating missing children.

Gold

Gold more closely aligns with wealth and winning. We may also associate it with wedding rings and even old-fashioned false teeth. Gold is scarce. However, adding it can feel a bit much, like gilding the lily, as opposed to illuminating a sacred manuscript. Gold has ancient associations with wealth, and was reportedly used in the Ark of the Covenant.

Add yellow to your book cover for a splash of sunshine or wealth, or scarcity, depending on the shade.

Categories
Career changing Covers

Color Theory, Part 2

Color Theory, Part 2

Color Theory, Part 2 – If you want to create your own covers, or if you are a part of selecting your cover in your published work, you need to understand color theory.

The Basics of Color Theory, Part 2

Color theory is the associations and impressions we get when confronted with a certain color or set of colors. Color matters.

Red and its Family of Colors

Red tends to be a bold, standout color. It works with a lot of other colors. It can also help if you’ve got a mainly black, white, or gray image for your cover. Red lettering can work with that background. However, if the value (brightness) of the red is the same as the gray behind it, you may find it feels like the color is vibrating.

Red means stop or anger or ripeness. It can also feel like excitement or danger, as it can remind us of everything from sports cars to raspberries to stop signs. The Twilight book covers in particular rely on red accents to great effect.

Pink

Pink comes across as a softer version of red. We often associate it with health and ballerinas, but also baby blankets and Barbie dolls. Its current association with femininity is fairly recent; until about the Second World War, it was considered more of a masculine color.

Color Theory, Part 2: Orange

Orange is more likely to be associated with hunters or the harvest or prisons, but it can also be associated with traffic safety. It can remind us of sunshine and, of course, oranges, but also the toxin, Agent Orange.

Copper

Closely related copper associates best with pennies or cookware more than anything else. However, we also associate it with bronze (about 90% of bronze consists of copper), and so we may link to the idea of third place medals.

Choose a color from the red family for your cover or for its accents, and expect some strong associations but also a cover that can really stand out.

Categories
Career changing Covers

Color Theory

Color Theory

If you are interested in creating your own covers, or if you are a part of selecting your cover in your published work, you need to understand something about color theory.

The Basics

Color theory is the associations and impressions we get when confronted with a certain color or set of colors. Color matters.

A Wheel and Some Hex

Your computer generates colors based on combinations of basic colors. These are written in RGB (red-green-blue) or hexadecimal. Once you know the code, you can replicate any color.

Using RGB or hex is particularly important as you replicate your colors and branding across multiple platforms. What looks like pure fire engine red on my monitor may appear more like brick or tomato to you. But at least with a uniform color code, I can get it right if I need to copy the red from your page or cover.

Imaging programs such as GIMP and Adobe InDesign both have color picker tools which look like eye droppers. Select the tool, click on the color you want to replicate, and the tool will grab the correct hex or RGB coded color.

Color Theory: How Does Color Make Us Feel?

It’s just like a lot of the marketing issues surrounding books and book covers. That is, a lot of this will depend upon the buyer persona or demographic associated with the most sales of your genre.

Let’s say you are a science fiction writer. Then a lot of your readership is probably going to skew male. Although if you write LGBT science fiction, you may find more female readers in the mix. Either way, how do they feel about colors? Furthermore, if you mainly have an American readership, their associations with colors will differ from if your ideal readers are Canadian or Swedish.

Color matters.