In today’s Client Spotlight Interview we’re talking to the talented Michael Ronson, a self-published author! Michael chose ArtCorgi to create the art for his book covers and the results will leave you speechless.
Join us as we talk to Michael about his novels, his experience ordering his book covers through ArtCorgi and his plans for the future of his saga!
Thank you for joining us, Michael! How did you come up with the idea to commission a piece of art to use on your book covers? Did you ever consider going a different route for them (ie. a simple text-based cover, a photomanipulation, etc.)?
Since I was writing a comedic sci-fi novel (I know: such a lucrative market!) it was important to me that I let the reader know what they were looking at as soon as I could. What better way to do that than to get some really high quality hand-drawn art? After all, that’s one thing I’ve always loved about old SF paperbacks: the mad, psychedelic, pulpy covers. I love how bizarre and colourful those retro 50s covers from someone like Earle Bergey were, and how trippy and outre seventies artists like Frank Kelly Freas got. I wanted to set the table for the reader and having art that showed a barrel-chested space captain, ray guns and alien landscapes was, to my mind, the only way to go.
There are, like you said, pre-set photos for the cover of a self-published novel (createspace, who I use, has a whole suite for this) but those kind of things are very broad. They specialize in public domain images that could be used for anything- lots of pictures of the sea, or clasped hands, or the moon. My book was quite specific, so I didn’t really think that a random picture of a beach, or a clown in the distance would cut it. So I was reliant on my own artistic ability or a text cover. Now, text covers are just plain boring, so I couldn’t use that, and my own artistic abilities are roughly that of a drunk chimpanzee, so it was clear I was going to have to bring in a professional.
But you’re very talented in the writing field! :) Can you tell us more about your books and what inspired you to write them?
My books are a series of comedic science fiction romps that detail the life and adventures of one Captain Space Hardcore; an intergalactic hero who’s comprised of 70% ego, 30% bravado, 18% daring 5% hair and 0.01% maths education. He’s a buffoon of a man who’s sole mission in life is to seek out new life and civilizations so that he can either blow them up, become worshipped by them, or both.
So as you might expect from that description, I started off as a very serious aspiring novelist. I had about a dozen first chapters cluttering my hard drive of Serious Works of Piercing Insight that were as experimental as they were daring as they were unreadable. I was absolutely sure I was eventually going to produce a Serious Novel about the human condition (whatever that is. Is it hunger? Itchiness? Persistent sweating?) but I never got there.
Eventually, in one attempt, a friend of mine kept me company by starting a comedy book. It was a fun, light-hearted book full of dumb jokes and over-the-top fight scenes. It was exactly the kind I actually would enjoy reading and exactly the opposite of what I was trying to write. After a while, my friend abandoned the first chapter and I took it up. After working on that for a while as a way to break through a period of writer’s block, I realized how stupid I was being, started writing comedy in earnest, and three books later here we are.
We’re glad you never gave up on the project! What made you choose ArtCorgi for your cover art? How did you go about choosing an artist?
Finding Artcorgi was simply some google good fortune. I was looking around for artists, dredging through the subreddits and trawling freelancer and whatnot. That’s when I came across a site dedicated to producing art. A lot of the pieces were for bespoke portraits for couples for weddings and other happy occasions and, though I live the loveless life of the self-published author and thus had no need for anything like that, I did see a few artists who were working in a style I thought could work for my cover. I contacted the site and they gave me a little portfolio of each author’s work and a rundown of prices; based on what I was looking for and the styles I could see, I opted to choose Omniopticon for the first cover, and I was so happy with the process that when I wrote the second book, I didn’t even consider shopping around for another artist.
You mentioned it has become a tradition to commission these covers and you often do it as a way to reward yourself for completing your novel (congratulations!). Is there any other way in which using Omniopticon’s covers in your book positively affected you, book sales or maybe even resulted in compliments from fans?
I am quite sure that a good portion of the sales that I have made to people who are not directly related to me have been because of the cover art. I have no data on that, but I think there’s an old saying about books, their covers and the process of judging. I can’t remember how it goes, but I’m pretty sure it encourages basing your decisions on appearances.
Realistically, though, in a saturated self-publishing market, having a good visual indication of what tone and content can be expected from your book is a really good idea, and it sets the tone, which is what I was after. I think a lot of readers take the cover as a mark of both quality and effort, so I would never underestimate how many people look at my book because of the art
Aside from commercial considerations, I do like to give the cover art as a gift to myself at the end of draft one. Writing a book is a bit of a lonely experience and with self-publishing, you don’t have the validation of having a publisher asking for the book. You can feel like you’re producing something in a void. So getting the cover art in makes the book feel real in a way. You get to see your creations through the prism of someone else’s talents. That’s a really gratifying feeling.
Indeed it is! And the covers look amazing! What can we expect from you in the near future? Where can we get one of your awesome books?
Well now, I actually need to finish this damned book. Like I said, I commissioned this to mark the end of my first draft, and a first draft is a rough, rough thing. I have had some of my friends read the first draft and based on their tight smiles and vague compliments about ‘being really well-punctuated’ I have a journey ahead of me to make the novel ready for public consumption. I still need to spend some time beating the thing into a readable shape, which will require several lengthy edits, a few sleepless nights, a not inconsiderable amount of alcohol and a few shovelfuls of self-doubt. However, I’m aiming to get this done by the end of the year.
There’s no feeling quite like holding your own book in your hand, and I want to end this year with a trilogy of sci-fi comedy novels that I can hold in my hand and throw at the windows of some publishers (it’s not violating a restraining order if I’m hurling them from more than 200 feet away).
Apart from polishing off this one, I’ve started plans for the next one- the fourth part of my trilogy. That has a nice ring to it.
You can check them out at Amazon.com
Anything else you want to share with us?.
I think that’s about it. I can be found on my little corner of amazon pumping out sci-fi comedy into the internet and hopefully will be doing that for some time to come. I have at least three ideas left in my head, so I’ll be turning them into books in the near future.