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  • Writer's picturePaul Jameson

Writing on a Shoestring: Covers

This week I decided I'm going to self-publish 'Nightjar'.


I gave myself a time-limit on agency submissions; wanted to at least try the traditional avenues to publishing. I created a comprehensive list of UK agencies, using various sources, and approached those I felt would have an interest in a strange fantasy; a folk horror, inspired by the countryside and set in a feudal future. Characters with physical and mental disabilities feature strong in central roles and so it's on the edge.


Challenging perhaps.

Now I can't say it's been a bad experience. I've been lucky. I must have received responses from more than half the agents (around 45 out of the 90 approached). Of those more than half were really nice, positive and personal emails. A number cited they enjoyed what was read, but were unsure on how to market it - age and genre being a challenge given some content.

I understand this.

I also had a couple of requests for full manuscripts, but despite the agents enjoying the read, it again came down to being unsure of how to place it. I'm good with this. It is a strange tale. And so now I have decided to self-publish.

On a budget.

It being zero.

I did explore the potential of crowdfunding, indeed I applaud the concept, but call me generation X if you will, I have a problem asking for money. It just isn't me.

So zero it is.

And with that my first hurdle is cover.

Can I do it?

I'm no artist, but I do fancy my eye. I knew the concept I wanted to get across; in fact, I have a photo of the very landscape that inspired the creation of 'Nightjar'. But I need more, a graphics programme to help me see if I could crate something I'd be happy with. Now I stumbled on a free online photo editor a while back, using it to create montages of themes for my writing; it's called:

I decided to try it for a cover, and I have to say I am incredibly pleased with the results.

It's easy to use, especially if you've played with such tools before. It's just about understanding how layers work; creating smaller images that you might then bring together to create the whole. The only real issue is it didn't work well in 'Mozilla Firefox' (my browser of choice) and so I had to use it in 'Internet Explorer'. No real problem. It comes with a good list of fonts, menu options (including a host of ways to manipulate images to your liking), and for a free tool it's incredibly versatile and user-friendly; even for an old hack like me.

And so:

The cover I created for 'Nightjar' is just what I wanted:


So for authors on a shoestring, I'd certainly recommend a look at the PIXLR Editor. You can't go far wrong for free. All you may need to do is invest some hours in practice.

Now I'm in the process of formatting the manuscript ready for KDP...

Paul hopes to release Nightjar in April 2018

You can find out more about PIXLR and their services by visiting


If there's a topic you'd like me to consider in a blog, a book you think I really need to read and review, or a TV Series you think I'd enjoy (and you'd like me to include it in my blog) drop me a line and let me know.

Finally. If you do buy my books. Thank you.

And let me know what you think. Get in touch on Twitter. I'm always there; a writer, you see...


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