OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
In a sea of ever-growing numbers of books, many of which use the same stock photography on covers, how do you make your book stand out?
This time, my co-writer J.Thorn and I wanted a map for the front of our dark fantasy thriller, Risen Gods.
Why a map?
- Risen Gods is set in New Zealand and the geography is important, so having a map is useful so readers can orientate themselves.
- The book centers around a Maori worldview where the land itself has more meaning than just a physical place, so having a map of New Zealand/Aotearoa fits with that worldview.
- Fantasy as a genre favors maps so it helps fulfill reader expectation.
What was the process for getting a map created?
I used 99Designs.com to create a new contest and then added my specific requirements:
Black and white map of New Zealand for the front of a dark fantasy novel. Image quality for printing in book and also vector file for resizing and png and jpg for web use. The story is set in the real country of New Zealand so the map needs to be accurate and include these places: Christchurch, Tekapo, Fox and Franz Josef Glacier, Picton, Kaikoura, Wellington, Mount Tongariro, Rotorua, Lake Waikaremoana and Urewera National Park, Auckland, 90 Mile Beach, Cape Reinga, Waipoua Forest. The book is dark fantasy/supernatural thriller and based on the Maori gods and natural disaster/apocalyptic style so we would also like some elements of design around e.g. oceans, volcanoes etc.
I used the Powerpack upgrade to get a highlighted Contest which means more designers submitted designs. Then I waited a few days … and excitingly the designs started arriving! I used a 7 day time frame so once the designs started, they all came quite quickly.
I added comments and rated the designs, making it clear which type of design I preferred and emailing with some of the designers. If you make it a blind contest, the designers can't see each others work. I think I would use that option next time as it would mean more varied designs.
Once we had narrowed down the designs to two favorites, I did a poll to my fiction Facebook page for J.F.Penn and also put the poll out on social media. This provided wider opinion and also more comments, plus a reader found a typo that I had missed. It's always good to get more eyes on the project!
Once we decided on the winner, I emailed with Brianne, the designer to get the final images with a few final changes. The process was very smooth and we're thrilled with the result. It looks great in the ebook and makes the print copy very special.
99Designs sponsors The Creative Penn podcast and you can get a Free Powerpack upgrade worth $99 if you use this link: 99Designs.com/Joanna.
Here's the winning map (we love it!)
I received my BA in fine art from the University of Southern California, and have a certificate in Scientific Illustration from the University of Washington. I work on freelance projects ranging from medical illustration to concept art for video games to children's book illustration.
While it was challenging to incorporate extra details into the confines of the map, I enjoyed creating and placing those fantastical elements. I love replicating styles. In the style of traditional cartography, I began on paper, with classic pen and ink line work, and then brought the image into digital format.
When working with authors, I find that the process is the most efficient and successful if there is a lot of communication. The more details and examples an author can provide, the more effectively I can bring his or her creative vision to fruition.
Other examples of my work can be found at www.brianneryan.com
I started to paint when I was a child, my dad is a painter and I grew up with art around me. I was involved in some music projects along the years as well but design was always my first plan. I was always attracted to creative projects but graphic design was the area that attracted me the most, and I love digital art. I started to work as a professional designer around 2005 as a freelancer and as a full time job for some design agencies and a typography. A few years later I decided to work just as a freelancer graphic designer.
I enjoyed drawing the map while trying to capture the book spirit. To be honest this is the first map I've done for a book, I did other designs for books in the past but never a map. It was a very fun project to work on.
One tip I can give to the authors is to try to find open minded and passionate designers. Be clear and honest in the design briefs and try to communicate the key points and feeling that a reader should receive when they look at the book graphic.
You can find me on my website: www.bcreativedesign.co.uk
Check out Risen Gods – available now in ebook and print
When a tidal wave strikes the coast of New Zealand, Ben Henare and Lucy Campion are separated in the chaotic aftermath.
As earthquakes shake the land and volcanoes erupt on the Pacific Rim of Fire, Ben wrestles with his Maori heritage as he faces the supernatural powers that threaten the land of Aotearoa. He must fight his way north on a quest through ice caves and oceans, battling the manifestations of the evil god Whiro and the creatures of the sky.
Lucy faces personal tragedy and human evil on her own trek, confronting a mighty demon of the deep as she crosses into the Cook Strait. Then Ruaumoko, god of the volcano, stirs, and the powers of the land threaten to pull the country into the sea.
As the people they love are threatened and Aotearoa begins to crumble in the face of natural disaster, can Ben and Lucy battle the Risen Gods to find each other again and save the country from destruction?
Risen Gods is a dark fantasy adventure set against the backdrop of Aotearoa/New Zealand, rich with the myth and history of the island.