Anatomy of an Indie Book

Hello again, everyone.

It’s been a while coming, but I’m finally finished with a sequel to The Fixer from a few years back.  I felt like Garrett deserved a little more page time and there was a story that had to spring out of the way he’d been forced to change his life before the events of the Birthright series in which we first saw him.

I know I’ve spoken of the virtues of Sketchup, Twilight Render, and Photoshop in the past, so I won’t bore you with that.  What I will post are some of the steps involved in making the cover.

Indie authors (at least this one, to be sure) don’t have an art department.  What I do have, though, is a teenager with an artistic flair and a desire to do something creative and new to help out dad.  So, this book cover is largely his doing.  I promised him money and the cover credit in my book for his help, so it seemed like a fair trade since he did most of the heavy lifting.

He sent me a concept, which we both tweaked and played with.  Then he made a number of his own elements and asked me to re-do the street scene the cover character is seen walking in.

That consisted of several steps.

This is the rough design.  It doesn’t take much in Sketchup to create a fairly complex scene.  Draw, extrude, ‘follow me’, and various other commands can produce simple shapes pretty intuitively.  Don’t mind the lady that’s about to embark on the home remodeling project in the foreground; that’s a cutout Sketchup places in every new scene for scale.  I gave her a good home as I continued the project.


Now we have color.  Also, though this image doesn’t show it, I’ve assigned lighting and textures to most of the colors and patterns which won’t begin to pop until I start the photo render process.




Here is the rendered image.  Yup, it’s a little dark, which I fixed later.  This happens to be the version I sent to WordPress, though, so I’ll just make excuses and move on.

Still doesn’t quite seem realistic, though, right?



Now we render ‘fog’, which gives the fading/hazy effect of making more distant objects less distinct.




Now have something.  I sent it back to my cover designer (the aforementioned firstborn offspring) and he layered everything up and sent me the cover below.




You might notice we flipped the street horizontally.  Seemed like the thing to do.  And for all the detail and work I put into the street, hardly any of it got used.  I feel for set designers and the like, who create complex scenes and put a lot of thought into why things belong in a scene, only to have it raced by or end up on the cutting room floor.  Oh well, it all worked out in the end and I don’t have to pay royalties for stock photos, plus my cover designer’s commission is very reasonable!  Not to mention I’m proud of our kid’s talents!


The book is due out in a week or two.  I just need to finish the front matter, ‘other books by Ryan’ page, that sort of thing.  It’s the monotonous, not-fun part of writing that still must be done.

Chat soon!

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One response to “Anatomy of an Indie Book”

  1. Raylyn Krauter says :

    So this is one I have been waiting for!! I am so impressed with the artwork and the fact that you employed you child to help you/actually do it!! Hope you paid him well.

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