Adventures in Self-Publishing : Cover Stories


It’ll do

I am not a visual person by any stretch of the imagination.

When I was in college studying computer science back in the 90’s, people would occasionally ask me if I could make websites for them.  The conversation would go something like this:

Person: “Can you make a website for me?”
Me: “Yeah, I can code one, but it’s going to look like a computer guy made it.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s going to look terrible.”
So yeah, I didn’t make any websites.

Given that I’m self-aware of my lack of design sense, I don’t know what possessed me to make my own book covers when I started self-publishing short story collections.  It comes even more perplexing considering that I knew artists that could do quality artwork.  Ego may have had something to do with it; the notion of doing everything on my own.  Maybe I didn’t want to pay for art at the time.  Whatever the reason, I figured some text on a solid color background would be good enough.  I did three covers like that, and it honestly only worked for The Rules of Tech Support.


A picture! Yay!

I like to think I made the most of my limited skills with my Nine to Five Lives ‘clock face,’ but that may have been too clever for its own good considering its low sales (it’s free now!).

At that point I figured it was time to get some actual artwork done.  My friend Damon Cone provided some artwork for Con Fluff 1, which I used to make a faux ‘con badge.’  I thought about making similar ones as promotional items for the book.  That never happened, but it remains an interesting idea for future use.  The character on the cover is me, which seems a little conceited, but at the same time, why the heck not?



I commissioned an artist friend who goes by Padunk for Con Fluff 2 and she knocked it out of the park.  She was also kind enough to put the title text on the artwork, which made it look really nice.  Future volumes have also featured artwork, and with the exception of The Rules of Tech Support, most of my collections featuring my early awful covers have been put off-sale, though you can still see them here.

While I have been happy with all of the artwork (Faeries, Fantasies, and Furries is another favorite) there are a few that need a do-over:  As the first book in the series, I don’t want to pull Seven Super-Short Sci-Fi Stories, but it does need a facelift.  Funny Animals, Funny People kind-of works, but I have a better concept in mind I’d like to see for it.  I took the easy way out with Fuzzy Words by plastering a picture into the middle of a (wait for it) solid colored background.

I’ve since commissioned new cover art for the printed version of Fuzzy Words from an artist named TinyBunner.  After spending the day arguing with CreateSpace I think everything is ready to go for printed copies.  I’m very excited at the prospect of having an actual printed book, but that’s a post for another day.


When I started writing fiction, I didn’t give much thought into linking my short stories together or having them take place in a shared universe.  As time went on, I did find myself putting some of them into a few distinct worlds:

“Earth Prime” is our home-sweet-dimension, and given that the majority of my stories involve some combination of furries, super-science, and fantasy, I don’t know that many of them actually take place here.   I do have a few sci-fi stories that take place ‘twenty minutes into the future,’ that is, near enough for us to relate to them (I hope!).

“Earth-F” is a parallel version of our world inhabited by furries.  These stories tend to be humorous and I like to ‘Hanna-Barbera’ the names in those stories.  For example, in a story that took place in a television studio, an older character referred to old-time TV stars such as “Mewcille Ball” and “Droopy Sales.”  I know, I know!

On “Earth H-minus” mankind has destroyed itself in what becomes known as the “Final War” and after their intelligence has been increased due to increased mutations, the furries eventually inherit the Earth.  One as-yet unpublished story takes places in a period where humans and furries coexist, though not harmoniously.  Society is eventually rebuilt by the furries but I haven’t quite hammered out the predator/prey relationship rules yet or if the humans were completely eradicated.  Yeah, its not exactly a happy place.

The ‘Enchanted Forest’ stories obviously happen in a fantasy world, but I haven’t done much there (like come up with a clever name) though it has been established that magic does have limits.  For now, anyway.

I should probably sit down and figure out just where all my stories fit, because inevitably some reader out there is going to try to ‘connect the dots’ and completely screw it up.  Well, assuming I haven’t already!  😀

Click here if you’d like to read some of those stories!

More Than Words

writingI have two projects that I haven’t been looking forward to working on, but carry on I must.  The first is a fiction story that involves the death of a character and the second is the follow-up to “The Rules of Tech Support.”

The reason I haven’t been looking forward to working on those projects is that working on stories that hit a little too close to home or that are sad can have an effect on me.  It may have happened before without my noticing it, but while working on a short story named “The Best Job In The World” for “Nine To Five Lives,” I noticed that I began feeling increasingly angsty at work.  I was even more angry and bitter than usual and it wasn’t until I finished the first draft of the story that I got over it.

I talked to a psychologist friend about it after the fact.  I asked him:  if reading fiction affects people in some way, wouldn’t writing it have an effect on those that write it as well?  He agreed, saying that something similar had happened to him when he was writing.

In all honesty, I think I am going to have a harder time writing the second tech support book.  While I can easily disconnect myself from a fictional character, I live tech support forty hours a week, which means I can probably look forward to being full of piss and vinegar for the next few weeks.  I could stop writing about work, but the insanity that the general public brings to the table is too rich of a vein of material to ignore.  I guess I’m stuck!