September 25, 2017

How to: Book Cover Coloring Pages

Okay, here's my totally awesome new marketing idea:

Coloring pages.

Yes, I'm a child at heart. I've drooled over all of the beautiful adult coloring books at the bookstore, but have avoided buying them because I just don't have the time (that's not entirely true—I made an exception for a signed copy of The Oatmeals's 404 Not Found).

Since I write gritty science fiction, there probably isn't a whole lot of overlap between my audience and coloring enthusiasts, but I figured sharing this cool idea would help a few of you out there. I imagine middle grade, young adult, fantasy, and paranormal books would lend to some awesome coloring pages.

When I first endeavored on the whole publishing adventure, I did a lot of research. One evening of watching every YouTube video I could find on self-publishing led me to video with a click-bate style title along the lines of "Make Money RIGHT NOW on Createspace with *LiTeRaLLy* NO Effort!!1!" One of the vlogger's (terrible) ideas was an adult coloring book using travel photos. By slapping on a filter, the images looked kind of like a coloring page. Just put together a collection of 20 images, sling it onto Amazon, and watch the big bucks roll in.

If you're a competent artist, then converting a cover image into a coloring page will be a piece of cake. I am not quite that confident in my drawing abilities, so I decided to turn to technology. I found two methods which produced a bit of success. If you don't have a copy of Photoshop, I'm sure they would both work in Gimp as well.

The first method uses two layers containing the image. When you invert the top layer, apply a blur, and set the blending mode to color burn, all of the edges become black lines. Here's the video explaining it in detail. Unfortunately, this method didn't work too well for my covers.

This second method is a little easier. Apply the "photocopy" filter. This method worked surprisingly well and is nice and quick. Here's the video for this method if you'd like to see it in action.

I ended up using the photocopy method for the artwork on both of my covers. The image on The End of Refuge has a lot of texture which I decided to manually remove using the brush tool. Once I had an image I was happy with, I added back the title and byline, using a thick stroke to make them stand out. Then I just added an outline and centered each on a letter sized document and I was done!

You might ask how I came to this idea in the first place. Well, my son is in kindergarten and needed to draw a picture of his family, I figured there'd be some cool family portrait coloring pages on the internet, and down the rabbit hole I fell.

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