For those of you who have been following along since we began publishing the Parliament of Twilight books in early 2013, you’ve seen quite the evolution of our book covers. You know that I have always designed the covers. And those first covers were drawn by my writing partner Nevi and put into cover templates I “designed”.
They were lovely but the large paintings didn’t translate well to thumbnails and they certainly didn’t appeal to audiences who were willing to throw money at us.
So, I went to work redesigning the covers to meet the expectations of our intended market. And they were….. well…..
They were what they were. Not bad, but desperately trying to cater to a very specific audience in the M/M Romance genre while still making a valiant attempt to keep the horror element that runs through the world was hard. Sort of got it, but not really.
Our long time fans (all three of you) will also recall that the books themselves had a fatal flaw. We were writing stories meant to eventually overlap, but each story line was taking place at three different places on the time line. With overlapping secondary characters. It was getting impossible for us as the authors to keep the stories straight and I don’t even know how the handful of readers we had would have managed if our original plan of 3 or 4 books in each story arc had played out.
We did the only thing we thought we could. We re-branded, changing our label name from Wandering Stars Press (which was also the name of a comic book company anyway and was really messing up our Google search results) to Hermit & Star Books. And we took the stories that we already had, fit them onto a single time line and began writing the missing pieces to thread them together and give more life to the secondary characters who were the backbone of the over all plot.
What came out of this re-do was the ensemble cast that we all know and love today. The stories made sense, the time line was smoothed out, and we were writing at a record pace. But the new books needed new covers. So I put myself through the process of learning a new set of tools. Something more than a photo editor and GIMP.
And they turned out beautifully. With amazing characters on dynamic backgrounds. The response from our readers was awesome. We’re not NYT best-sellers, but we’re regularly in the top 50 for LGBT Horror, so that’s something. And we make a few sales every month, earning enough for a cup of coffee or two.
But there was something off about the Episode 1 cover. Something that made it look out of place next to the other ones.
It was the first. I have learned many, many more tricks to making amazing renders, the program I use (DAZ Studio 3D) has been updated several times. I’ve found hours of tutorials for making my final products amazing.
After dealing with this for almost 3 years (Episode 1 released in late Feb 2015), I finally broke down and did what I swore I wasn’t going to do. I risked the endless cycle of fixing and redoing my past work to take it that elusive place called Perfection. I sat down and redid the cover from scratch. New character design for Jacob. New background. Updating the font and graphics to match the other books.
Then this …
Which wasn’t BAD, but it certainly wasn’t good either. It became something else. Something new and amazing. It became this…..
And I am so much, much happier. I am in love with this cover. So much in love.
And by the end of the weekend, this new amazingness should be posted on every site where our books are sold.