The Dreamer’s Thread, by Starla Huchton
But what would you do if you suddenly found out that you were one of the few who creates dreams for the whole world? Would you use your power to harness the light and weave it into beautiful tapestries of magic and wonder, or would you fall prey to the seductive siren song of darkness and nightmares?
For tattoo artist Aura Mayville, this becomes a reality as she is ripped from her life of art and music and thrust into a realm where good and evil struggle for control over the minds and hearts of men. With a sarcastic sorcerer, a mercenary, and her Spirit Guide as her only companions, Aura must journey through the dream realm to discover both her power and where her heart truly lies. In a place where anything is possible, can she find the strength to hold on to herself, or will she be lost to the shadows forever?” (via my other website)
You may recognize this title, but the cover will seem unfamiliar to you. That’s because this is a redesign of my very first novel which featured my very first ever book cover in 2009. You can view that (tweaked) original here (original and tweaked original appear on my other site in this post).
As I said in the blog post on my other site:
“So it’s been awhile since I gave much thought to The Dreamer’s Thread, but with the launching of the spiffy new podiobooks.com site, along with a slew of email updates on the topic, I got to thinking about my old TDT cover. In particular, how much my design work has changed since I first put it together. This thinking was prompted by an email about covers from Podiobooks Godfather Evo Terra. I sent out a reply email explaining about my design stuff, when I realized that the one cover folks probably identify most with me is my absolute oldest work and not my best. I can see those other podiobook authors reading my email, checking me out on Podiobooks, and then promptly scoffing at my hubris.
That absolutely does not fly with me.”
There’s your impetus for this. This redesign has a two-fold purpose. 1) See if I can make the book more appealing for new readers/listeners and 2) marketing for potential new design clients looking at my work. Who would hire me based off of the original TDT cover? If that’s my first impression, it’s amazing anyone’s ever paid me for anything! LOL
Truthfully, I was extremely proud of that first cover. Much like the book itself, I learned a lot from its creation and it served as my mascot for a long time. However, it was time to move on. Especially in the fields of publishing and design, you can’t afford to rest on your laurels. Always improve. Always grow. Always strive for that next level. That’s what I’m doing here.
So, about the design itself…
I’ve felt for a long time that the old TDT cover was far too blatant in it’s imagery. Yes, it gave the audience a chance to see what might be within the story, but it did it in an inelegant way. It’s like using a bulldozer when a spade would have worked just fine (something I’ve learned since then). Along that line of thinking, I whittled the imagery down to what was really important: the main character and the setting.
She spends the majority of the story in the Dream Realm. Nothing about the old cover gave the feeling of a foggy, dream-like state. The harsh lines conveyed something far too solid and tangible. This new cover remedies that. You have a central figure here still, but she’s obscured and not fully present. It’s light, much like Aura’s presence in the Realm, and even includes a silver strand looping across the bottom half of the image. While this is totally lost in smaller versions of the cover, the overall picture isn’t hurt by the loss (or presence) of it.
Much like many of my covers lately, this one involved the liberal application of blending modes. And when I say “liberal”, I mean on every layer except maybe three. At least 90% of the image is comprised of layers set to blend in various ways with the layers below it and sometimes duplicated with additional effects. It’s an absolutely crucial tool when trying to convey a sense of light and shadow. I tried so many different combinations of these that I lost track of what I had already done at one point. FML.
Only less time intensive was the text. It took quite a while before I settled on the font, and even longer to finish tweaking the final placement on the page. The coloring was a little less difficult, but I waffled between pinkish purple and the yellow tone I ultimately chose. I did this for a few reasons. Firstly, I didn’t want to give the impression this was strictly marketed to women, as I think anyone can enjoy the story and POV. Secondly, I’m not a huge fan of pink in general. Lastly, pink doesn’t really suit the main character. She isn’t as fluffy and girly (IMO, of course) as that color would indicate her to be. Basically, an element as subtle as font color can set the stage for reader/listener expectations. It’s something so subtle most people don’t think about it, but hey, that’s my job right? :)
I did question the lighter look this time around. Even after I finished this version I played around with a darker scheme. I decided it looked far too much like today’s vampire-saturated urban fantasy genre, so I stuck to my original instinct.
I also created a square version, as iTunes no longer accepts anything but that shape no smaller than 1400×1400 pixels anymore.
I don’t know what this new cover will do as far as new readers/listeners that come across it, but it’s an interesting experiment. If anything does come of it, I’ll be sure to note that here for the curious.
As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged!