cover art

Negotiating the maze that is the stock photo site

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If, like me, you’re not blessed with an A-list income, then you will be familiar with the anguish that comes with the search for cover art stock photos.

These sites are huge, but their search criteria are nonsensical, and the results you get often bear no resemblance to the words you type into the input box.  You type in ‘spooky corridor’ and you get pictures of grinning kids playing on a beach, and you think, “what the fuck has this to do with a spooky corridor?”  Much sighing and scratchings of the head later, you give up in disgust or settle for something you know is not what you wanted.

The problem is caused by those who upload the photos.  When they upload their photos, the site asks for keywords.  These keywords are the words you and I use as search criteria and should reflect the subject of the photo to make sure we get what we search for.   They want you to pay to download their photo above anyone else’s.  To try to make sure this happens, they will type in keywords that bear no resemblance to the subject of the photo, so that as many searches as possible will bring their photo up on our screens.  It’s a bit like authors putting their horror novel into the ‘historical romance’ or ‘chick lit’ categories to make sure more people see it when they search Amazon.  It’s bad practice and it should be illegal.  The stock photo sites should punish these people buy banning them from using the site.

There are many stock photo sites out there, and a lot of the same photos will appear in them all.  Finding the right stock shots can be a lengthy procedure, so don’t leave it until the last minute.  Make a list of every single word and phrase you can think of that describes the image you want, even vague abstract terms such as ‘spooky, gloomy, sad, otherworldly’ etc.  As soon as you find something that is near what you’re after, click on the shot to get to its download page.  Lower down that same page, there will be a ‘see similar images’ option.  Click this and you will get a new search of images similar to that one.  By this method of searching similar images, you can often find your way eventually to the shot you want.  Download comp images before paying for the final shot, and play around with your photo manipulation software.  Only when you are happy that the images give you the final result you’re happy with, pay to download the full size version.

I am going to be self publishing a horror novel in time for Halloween this year, and the search for stock images for the cover was causing me much despair.  I searched and re-searched both stock sites I usually use, to no avail, and in the end I searched a site I usually avoid due to its high costs.  Within minutes I found the perfect shots and was so relieved I actually did dance around my living room with glee.  Never rule out a site because it’s too expensive, keep it for last resort searches.  It’s better to pay a little more for the right shot, than less for one that doesn’t really fit.  A few hours with Gimp and I have a cover I’m happy with, and one that is near to what I originally imagined for the book.

Stock photo sites are a nightmare to negotiate, but with time, planning, and strategy, you will find what you need.

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Brand new release – Acts of Life

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I have great pleasure in being able to finally announce that my latest science fiction novel is finally out.  It will take a day or two or Amazon links to go live, but paperbacks can be purchased now from Lulu.com and e-books from smashwords,com

I wrote Acts of Life in twenty days during last November’s NaNoWriMo and am very proud of it.  I hope you enjoy it.

Here is the link to the Acts of Life page, where the blurb and buy links can be found.

Here is the link to the page where you can read 3 excerpts from Acts of Life.

New Interview & Other Stuff

I did a new interview recently that went live today.  Author Jennifer Loiske interviewed me for her 7 Minutes blog.

Click here to read my interview with Jennifer.

Thank you so much Jennifer for great questions.

Yesterday, I decided in a moment of madness to splash out on a set of new fingernails.  Now, I’m a total nail virgin so this was all new to me.  I’ve thought about it many times but never taken the plunge but after talking with a friend about her experiences with them, I decided to do it.  A lovely gal named Kate came to my flat and did them.  We chatted all the way through and she explained everything to me.

They look lovely and for the first time in my life I like the way my nails look.  I went for the typical french manicure look and I’m very pleased.  The downside is that I now feel like an amputee who’s just received new false hands and has to learn to manipulate them.  Boy is it hard to work these things or what?

Typing is difficult as the nails, being longer than my own, get in the way so I’m having to learn to type using the ball of my finger tips and not the tips, as is normal.  I was trained to type properly and can normally go pretty fast but now I’m slow and clumsy.  You just don’t realise how important fingernails are until they get in the way.  Other girls on facebook have promised I’ll get used to them and I’m hoping for that as I do love the way they look.  On a brighter note, picking my nose and scratching my ass are going to be a walk in the park..!

I was invited to do two guest blogs recently.  One for April 18th and the other for May 23rd.  The first is about world building for space opera writers and offers simple tips to make your universes both plausible and unique.  I haven’t decided what to write about in the May post yet but I’ll be posting the links when they go live.

I uploaded two of my covers to the Authors.com cover contest today in a fit of madness.  They have to be approved first though, before they go live for folks to vote on, which seems odd to me.  It’s a contest where the public vote for their favourites so why the hell do they need to be approved by some faceless admin first?  Oh well, I’ll post if and when they go live and beg shamelessly for your votes.

In the meantime, hop along via the link above and read my interview with Jennifer at her 7 Minutes blog.

A Shoutout for JL Stratton, Cover Artist.

I want to give a big shout out for my awesomely talented cover artist, JL Stratton.

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This talented guy now has his own page here at my blog so all authors looking for a cover artist can get in touch with him.

Endorsed by the Great & Mighty (part 4)

dwayne with floxham