Book Cover Artist Q&A with Chris Graham the @StoryReadingApe

RW: You are the Indie Authors best friend. That’s something many people know you as, but there is another aspect of your contribution to the Author world that some are not quite as familiar with. Tell us about how and why you came to create book covers? What was your first one?

CHRIS: My first cover was for the late Steve K. Smy, ‘Shade of Evil’, the first of a new series that Steve intended to publish, this was quickly followed by two more for ‘Evil Under the Circle’ and ‘A Darkness in Amazonia’, unfortunately, Steve died shortly after publishing this last one, however, based on notes left behind by Steve, his son Damien has published one more book of a new Fantasy series (asking me to do the cover and a map) and already has the cover plus maps from me for a second book:

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RW: What types of software or online tools do you use in creating the artwork for the book covers?

CHRIS: To create the scenes and characters in 3D, I use Smith Micro’s Poser 10TM and E-ON Software Inc’s VUE Esprit 10TM programmes and render them into exportable Image Formats (usually PNG for best resolution and Hard / Paper back books, plus jpg / jpeg for eBooks).

For working the rendered scenes into covers and add text, I use several Image Editors, the main one being a GIMP-like software called ‘Seashore’ which is compatible with my Mac. The others are mainly to generate any special fonts or effects.

RW: I’ve looked into free programs like Blender, since I was originally planning to be an art major way back in the day, so I am very interested in illustration and that part of the Lit World. Have you tried it and if so what has your experience with free programs similar to that?

CHRIS: I did try Blender and several other programs, but they are way to user unfriendly – you need to take courses on them. Poser and Vue are much easier and intuitive to use.

RW: I have to agree with you. Blender is so complicated, at least for me at the moment, that I just open it and close it again. But it might be I don’t have the time to invest in it. But Poser and Vue sound more user friendly. I saw the prices so I it will be a long time before I could even think about visiting those sites again to make a purchase. How do you do the layering using the different software packages and make them blend together?

CHRIS: Layering in any Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Gimp and similar programmes are all done the same way.

RW: Chris just showed his professional side there and did a duh answer on me. Okay, do you read the books first or does the Author give you an idea they have, such as a feel they are going for?

CHRIS: I’ve done both – but usually the author has a good general idea of what they’d like and I prefer to work with that – so far I’ve been lucky enough to hit close enough to their marks first or second time to work out the final details quickly.

RW: How long does it take to do a book cover on average?

CHRIS: I really couldn’t say – sometimes I can get something together in a day, but one cover took me over a week to get to the final tweaking part.

RW: What are some of the covers that come to mind that even impress you? I know you will say you love them all but there has to be some that once complete just took you by surprise how good they turned out.

CHRIS: The first one I did for Jo Robinson was a WOW moment for both of us, I did the cover image, Jo sourced and added the title, etc, font:

chris_graham_shadow_people_the_finding_cover_art.jpg

RW: How does one approach you to have a book cover done?

CHRIS: That’s easy, go to the following link:

http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/authors-resources-central/tsra-doings/

You’ll also see all the covers and maps I’ve made for authors to date.

RW: Where do you get your inspiration for the artwork for the covers? Do you have an art background?

CHRIS: After reading the information the authors send me, I mull it over for a few days, maybe do a little research if there are any specific objects involved, then I just start pulling bits together until the scenes feel right, render, maybe enhance the image a few different ways and send low resolution copies, plus suggested enhancements, to the authors for them to consider.

I have GCE ‘O’ level and Royal Drawing Society Level 5 Certificates in Art and even had a (not all that good – I was only 16 years old at the time) painting exhibited in a London Museum (probably one of the easily missed back street ones NOT the Famous London Art Gallery lol).

However, any drawing and painting talents I ever had have long since vanished and that’s why I resort to using 3D computer programmes 😀

I trained as an Engineering Draughtsman, progressing onto Designer and as a Construction Site Project Director, had occasion to do some “Remedial Re-design” to suit site conditions, because the designers had not attended site to carry out proper surveys before making their designs.

RW: Most book cover makers source stock images online, then cut, paste and modify them to get the final result, but you use 3D programs to create the scenes instead – is there a reason for doing them this way?

CHRIS: Yes, several reasons:

Many of the stock image sites charge small fees, which is not a problem in itself and well worth it in many cases, plus, really great images quickly become popular for using in all sorts of ways, posters, banners, Websites, etc, and so may not be unique to the author’s book cover.

Any costs I incur would need to be passed onto the author whose book cover I’m making (thus adding to the price I quote – which is already nominal and affordable for custom made covers using my own materials), plus, it’s critical for any author who wants their book cover to stand out from the rest, to have a cover that no-one else can ever get, intentionally or unintentionally.

By custom creating the scenes myself for each author and saving those scenes, plus any resulting cover images right up to the final one, under that authors name and never using those scenes for anyone else, I can guarantee each cover will be unique.

RW: Is book cover creating something you would suggest people get into? For example; are there creative headaches involved? Be honest, Authors are very possessive and particular about their books. I have an image in my head for a book cover for one of mine and I can see it almost exactly, does that ever rear its ugly head and you have to rework a cover over and over?

CHRIS: Only one cover needed more than a few tweaks, but it was well worth the effort by both the author and myself.

RW: If someone wanted to become a cover designer how would you suggest they begin? Art classes, computer classes, or maybe just jump in and become familiar with things?

CHRIS: Some people seem to have a natural affinity for composing art (I had a friend once who used to doodle mini masterpieces on scraps of paper, then discard them), but like most things, art is learnable, so if someone is not feeling all that comfortable with their efforts, taking art and/or computer classes may help.

However, why not just jump in and have a go – you’ll have great fun even if you never sell any of it.

RW: Do you ever see a book cover or even a DVD/Blue Ray cover and think “They so got that wrong”?

CHRIS: I can’t think of any.

RW: You’ve recently started practicing Promotional Trailers, will you be offering this as another service?

CHRIS: Yes – but first I have to satisfy myself that I KNOW what I’m doing with the new software I’m teaching myself how to use, then I will definitely offer that service at competitive (and affordable) prices.

One thing I would like to make clear though.

It is NOT my intention to undermine Professional Book Cover and Promo Trailer Makers and steal business away from them – my intention is ONLY to offer Indie Authors an affordable alternative when starting out ,or, when trying to become better established and in a position to be able to afford those professionals.

RW: Lastly, as I ask all the creative people that come through here, what is your favorite word and why?

CHRIS: ‘FUN’ because everyone should enjoy what they do and if you take everything, including yourself, too seriously, you’ll go NUTS.

 

Blog: TheStoryReadingApeBlog.com
Twitter: @StoryReadingApe
Facebook Timeline
Facebook Promotion of New Authors and Books Page
Google+: Chris Graham (The Story Reading Ape)
LinkedIn: The Story Reading Ape
Pinterest: Graham Christopher
Goodreads: Chris The Story Reading Ape

 

 

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COVERS REVEALED BUT NOT YET PUBLISHED

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Chris Graham is more than a blog host to Indie Authors. I wanted people to find out the talent behind the ape. I think after reading his answers you will all agree that there is a lot more than than the fur shows us. There is an intelligence there that he downplays but you can’t hide it for long. Doing illustrated work has long been one of my biggest dreams. In reality it was perhaps my first dream career. When I found out what Chris does I had to talk to him and share what I found out. I thank Chris for agreeing and sharing. Visit his blog, buy the books he covers, and as always . . .

Read a Book, Write a Review.

 

Much Respect

Ronovan

 

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Cliché usage and Research? Get them right when you write.

It’s Halloween and you would think there would be spooky stories here at LWI, but we’re not really about showing our writing skills here. We have personal blogs and novels for that. A friend suggested to me that I write a spooky story for Halloween for my blog. I considered it . . . for about 2 seconds. I’m not one to go into writing trends and clichés if possible. I would rather my clichés happen naturally. Believe me they happen naturally quite often.

Two things today, they were only going to be one, but I’ll do two now that I mentioned clichés.

Clichés

I was talking to an author/blogger friend, Jenna Willett, about clichés in books and I gave the opinion that a few cliches are okay. I feel that the reader does need that touch of comfort to at least ‘think’ they know what is going to happen. That is before you rip their hearts apart or destroy there mental stability. But if you do use clichés, use them for that reason.

Use cliché moments to advance the story. Use them to comfort and lull before you smash in the jaw with that amazing twist of yours.

Research

Now to the original reason I showed up today. I did write a story years ago that I had thought about sharing on my blog, but it needed work that I wasn’t prepared to put in right now. The work? I needed to give some authentic voices to some characters from the 1700s or 1800s. They needed that speech pattern and word usage to make your mind to take on the accent of an American male teacher and students from wealthy families during the more British sounding time.

In other words I needed to do some research. Jo Robinson wrote an article about Research that goes into more detail and her writing expertise carries more weight than my meager attempts. Yes, writing for over 20 years with several novels completed and submitted, but still meager. I suppose I should self publish, and might just do that someday. But read Jo’s article for more thoughts on Research. You need to get a lot of things right to make your story work.

 

Much Respect

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

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What about those Reviews – The Good, The Bad, and the Confusing @JoRobinson176

LitWorldInterviews very own Jo Robinson,

Jo Robinson
Jo Robinson

shared something on her personal author blog that I thought was absolutely amazing, helpful, and something I have thought for so long.
Jump over and check it out. It’s a quick read that will help every aspiring author and established author as well to handle reviews we get of our work.

You get to see just one of the reasons I went after Jo so hard to be part of the LWI Team. Her experience is just a wealth for all of us to pull from.
Much Respect
Ronovan

Jo Robinson

If you publish with Amazon, you can be pretty certain that at some point or another you’re going to get a review that will make you scratch your head in confusion. The thing I like the most about these odd reviews is that it’s considered very bad form to ever answer one – I would hate to ever have to answer a rotten review. It’s not a good idea to answer any review for your book whether good or bad actually. Amazon reviews are a free forum type thing, and anyone who has read your book should be free to say what they thought about it without any fear of either a rant or a lot of fawning gratitude from the author.

Poor old Hannah. One of the first reviews that my Fly Birdie got was a two sentence one star clonker, where the reviewer said, “I was disgusted by…

View original post 708 more words

Welcome Jo Robinson to the LitWorldInterviews Team! @jorobinson176

Welcome Jo Robinson to the LitWorldInterviews Team!

Jo Robinson
Jo Robinson

 

As soon as I interviewed Jo I knew I needed her to join me on this adventure in helping authors be promoted and give her invaluable advice as a successful self published author. What makes someone a success? She is doing it and doing it and it’s her choice and she knows it inside and out. Her goal in may ways will be to help authors see how self publishing can be done by pointing them in the right direction while also giving her own tips on writing along the way. She brings a wealth of expertise in the self publishing arena as well as an author. I am blown away she said yes when asked to join up!

 

Thank you Jo for joining LitWorldInterviews!

 Make sure to check out Jo’s site and her books as well.

 

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Jo Robinson #Kindle #Books #Free & .99 #Amazon !!!! @jorobinson176

You can still get Fly Birdie and The Visitation each for .99! The other special prices have expired.

Jo Robinson,

Jo Robinson (2)

Blog

 

one of our interviewees, has marked her books at .99 for the first time and some are

FREE!

This will not last forever, so click it and get it . . .

NOW!

 

Fly Birdie

FREE!

Fly Birdie

The Visitation

FREE!

The Visitation

 

Shadow People (The Finding Book 1)

For .99

Shadow People

African Me & Satellite TV

For .99

AM Cover V1 - Copy

 

 

 

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Q&A Jo Robinson African Me & Satellite TV @jorobinson176

AM Cover V1 - CopyAfrican Me & Satellite TV

Jo Robinson

“Even though this is not the type of story I would normally read, I enjoyed the other three different themed books by this author (Fly Birdie, The Visitation and Shadow People) so much that I decided to try this latest one – and I’m glad I did, because it let me see yet another aspect of her talent as a writer.”-Chris Graham

The author has done a masterful job describing a wide range of characters. The artistic Suzette, the rugged men who work the land, the cook, maid, and tragic gardner – all have distinct personalities that leapt off the page. Enter the villainous couple who I wanted the smack from the moment I met them.”-Mark Myers

There is never a dull moment in the Hertzog household, which consists of Suzette, her loving husband Herman, their cook, Precious, the gardener, Christopher and their dog and cat who are like their children.
The novel is set in today’s Zimbabwe and Suzette, the main character – a white woman of Afrikaner heritage – cares a lot about justice and despises prejudice of any sort. Her problem is that she doesn’t want to rock the boat, is scared of most things but especially public speaking.
When the Shermans move in next door, with their ugly, racist and mean attitude, Suzette is beginning to find it difficult to contain her rage.”-Carol Balawyder

 

I met my guest today through what I call Blog World, the land of blogdom. We followed each other and enjoyed each others posts. Then I discovered she was an author and . . . of course . . . I had to ask for an interview. I don’t ask everyone, but she’s an amazing lady and I find her posts enjoyable and I needed to find out more. So without any more from me, it’s time to meet . . .

Jo Robinson

Jo Robinson (2)

 

RW: Tell us where you’re from?

JO: I was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, but spent most of my childhood in Johannesburg and my

twenties in Cape Town.  After that I lived in Zimbabwe – out in the rural lands – until last year, when I

came back home to South Africa.  And very happy to be back, even though I’ll never forget the people

I met, the adventures I had, and the lessons that Zimbabwe taught me.

 

 

RW: And who would you say are your favorite authors?

JO: There aren’t many genres that I don’t like to read, so my favorite authors probably look a little mismatched.  I’ve always loved horror, with Stephen King at the top of that pile for me. 

Ever since I read Carpet People by Terry Pratchett when I was young, I’ve been madly in love with that man –I’ve read most of his books at least three times each. 

I’m a big sci-fi and fantasy fan too, so James Herbert, Asimov of course, Anne McCaffrey, and Piers Anthony are major faves. 

I also love Joanna Trollope’s gentle style of writing, and Philippa Gregory’s historical books.

 

RW: What is your favorite beverage to drink, any kind?

JO: I very seldom drink anything other than water during the day – boring, I know, I know, but I’m a big fan of wildly colored cocktails with umbrellas and swizzle sticks in them for now and then, and champagne and orange with breakfast now and then is not a bad thing at all.

 

 

RW: What is your favorite word?

JO: Goodness!  I never knew I had one, but the first word that pops up now is love.  It’s the answer to most questions and problems after all.

 

 

RW: What is your background in writing, what makes you a writer?

JO: I started writing quite abruptly a couple of years ago.  I never thought about it, or planned it.  It just happened.  I was sitting at the kitchen table writing out a shopping list, and it went something like: Milk – Bread – Bog Roll – and then the first few paragraphs of African Me & Satellite TV happened. I’ve never changed them either.  The way they are now in the book is the way that they came out then.  I’d actually forgotten until recently, that I had just started a new job as a reporter for a small town newspaper when I was eighteen, and I got to interview the junior Miss Bethal and write up the article just before my mother passed away.  It was published without any editing and I got a pat on the back for a job well done, but things got a bit crazy after that and writing never occurred to me again.

Reading on the other hand – I did that all the time.

 

 

RW: What is your escape from writing when you are at that about to explode point?

JO: I have quite a lot of loves, and fortunately these days my writing helps to bring them all together.  I paint, and cook, and garden, and just lately I’m trying my hand at photography and digital painting too.  The art and the photography aren’t guilty pleasures because those two things will hopefully help with future covers and book projects, but being out in the sun, or spending hours in a kitchen full of gorgeous aromas are pretty good explosion stoppers for me.

(I have to intrude, I now want to be in her kitchen.)

 

 

RW: What genre does African Me & Satellite TV fall into?

JO: Fictional Drama

 

 

RW: Tell us a little about your book.

JO: It’s about heartbreak caused by hatred and racism, and about healing with love and courage.

“For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in

it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens.

Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.

After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And then an unexpected hero changes everything.

Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.

On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that’s what she chooses to.”

 

 

RW: What inspired the book?

JO: I saw a terrible verbal racist attack take place on a street in Zimbabwe.  White person screaming abuse – black person standing silently looking at the ground until the white person made an exit with screeching wheels bouncing off the pavement.  It sort of smacked me in the face then that we had all just stood and gaped.  Not a single one of us had uttered a word or stepped in, when somebody really, really should have.  The foulness of that incident stayed in the back of my mind for a long time, and eventually became the inspiration for African Me.

 

 

RW: Tell us about your main character(s) and what you think will them connect to readers.

JO: hey’re human, and they have flaws.  Suzette has quite a few to be honest, and until you get to know her you might want to give her a little shake or two.  Christopher has suffered a great deal in his life, and fallen at one of life’s hurdles, so he’s also flawed.  But they have strengths too.  I think that all of the characters in this story came to life with their own very distinctive traits – good, bad, or just plain odd, and I’m pretty fond of most of them, warts and all.

 

 

RW: Who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

JO: Funny you should ask that – it has occurred to me.  I suppose all of us scribblers consider that now and then.  I would go for Charlize Theron and Morgan Freeman – in fact they were made for these roles!  Hang on a bit – just off to email them…..

charlize_theron morgan_freeman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RW: What message do you think your book delivers to the reader?

JO: That all humans need to respect all other humans as equals, and treat them as such, because at the end of the day it is the truth.  And that when some who feel so terribly superior to others have hatred in their hearts, and act out on it, only sorrow and loss can result.

 

 

RW: Describe your book in one word.

JO: That’s a sneaky one!  I think it will have to be “Live”, as in – Live your life.

RW: Where can we get your book now?

JO: There are several options:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

 

 

RW: How do people connect with you through all forms of social media?

JO: Mainly through my blog, which is my favourite place to be online, and I have Contact Me pages there and also on my website.  Google+ is lovely and interactive, and Twitter is great for chats.  I don’t have much time to spend on Facebook these days, although I’m going to try and make some.  The problem with Facebook is that once you open it up, you fly through some sort of warped and twisted portal that turns what you think are minutes into hours. And of there is also Goodreads.

 

RW: Do you currently have representation? If so who, and if not describe what qualities you would like in an agent and what you would bring to the relationship.

JO: I’ve never looked for an agent or publisher, and the couple that offered didn’t look overly fantastic to me.  I’ve worked very hard to learn what I know now about independent publishing, so I would have to be offered a very good deal to hand over the reins to any of my work, and with my control issues I don’t think that I’d be easy to work with.  I wouldn’t like to work with me that way.  Apart from my short story with Springbok Publications I only represent myself.  Like it like that.

 

 

SP2 The Hunger - Version 1 2

 

RW: What are you working on right now?

JO: I’ve had a lot of major interruptions to my work this past year and things have piled up, so I’m working on polishing three books at the moment, and I’ll publish all of them within weeks of each other probably.  The Hunger is the second book in my Shadow People series.  Emmaline, which is the first in my Ghost Writer collection, and a third, which even though it does have a title, I probably won’t share that until I publish it.  Or maybe I will – just not yet.

 

RW: What book are you reading at this time?

JO: I have a large pile of indie published books that I’m reading my way through to review right now on my Kindle, but at the same time I’m slowly reading the paper version of Further Along The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck.  I loved the first book, and this one is also the kind of book that takes time to read in little bits, because of all the long pauses to stop and think a while.

 

 

RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?

JO: Write it and then do it.  For an indie published writer, my advice would definitely be not to publish the book that you’ve been slaving away on for years first.  Publish a shorter story to begin with to learn the ropes a little, figure out how things work, see how other authors are marketing their books, and then head on in with your novel.  Especially if you don’t already have much of an online presence -you’ll be to talking to the wall if there’s nobody in the room to buy your book.  Also, don’t be shy to ask for help with the technical bits.  Writers are kind souls, and they are mostly all willing to help you with your first time round.

 

 

RW: If you could have written any book that exists, other than your own, what would it be and why?

JO: I can think of a couple that I would have liked to have watched being written so I could get inside their authors heads, but I can’t think of any that I would have liked to have written myself – apart from Harry Potter because if I had I’d be rolling in dough and have all the time in the world to write my own stuff, and not have to worry about crusts of bread and so on.

 

~~~~

I would like to thank Jo for agreeing to the interview today and I am going to be begging for her to come back when it’s time for the release of her new books. I think when she described her book in one were she was describing what she does. I think we can all agree that Jo Robinson does live a life to its fullest.

 

GET HER BOOKS Starting Saturday September 20, 2014 for .99 and FREE for Kindle. See our other note about it.

Remember to buy her book at one of the following:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Follow her at

blog,

Contact Me

Google+ 

Twitter

Facebook 

Goodreads

I followed them all, so why not you, right?

Much Respect

Ronovan

 

 

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