Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Interview with my cover artist Carl Graves

I've known Carl Graves for 24 years, and he's a close friend of mine. We've worked on numerous projects together, and I've never met anyone more talented, in any field, than Carl is. He blows my mind he's so good.

Joe: Let's start off with a bit of your background.

Carl: I've always been interested in art. Drawing, painting, animation, sculpture, and so on. When I got my first copy of Photoshop, I began playing around with computer images, and have been doing so for over a decade. You came to me a few years ago, asking if I could do an ebook cover for you. Since then I've done more than two dozen of your covers, and dozens of others.

Joe: You've got a lot of different styles. For example, your covers for Lisa Jackson look different than your covers for James Swain.

Carl: I try to work with the writer to match the cover to their book. At the same time, because of my art background, and because I read a lot, I understand the elements needed to make a cover stand out. People do judge books by their covers, and a well-done cover will help the author sell more books.

Joe: I've been screaming at authors for years about the importance of covers. Poorly done covers that look like your child did them do not help sales. Even people with new ereaders can pick out the self-made covers, and they equate those with self-pubbed ebooks, which they equate with unprofessional. An amateur cover subconsciously tells the reader to not buy the ebook. Your covers look like Big 6 covers.

Carl: Thanks. Some of my covers I'm very proud of. Others, I did what the author wanted, and I don't feel they're as strong. But I work for the author, and if the author wants to go down a certain path, I do what they ask.

Joe: You've gotten some negative feedback on the internet, in various forums. Writers unhappy with your communication skills.

Carl: I realize that, and I truly apologize for anyone I've inconvenienced. This has been a pretty tough year for me. Family problems, job issues, health issues, and some major computer/internet issues. I've lost some business, and people have been irritated because I haven't communicated like I needed to. I'm human, and I got in over my head. 

Joe: Writers tend to be needy.

Carl: I understand that a lot better than I did. I have a background (in animation) where dealines could be months, or even a year down the road. With a Big 6 book, the book comes out months after the cover art is done. There is never any rush.

Joe: But with ebooks, sometimes the cover art is needed right away so the writer can self-publish it.

Carl: I realize that now. 

Joe: How is your schedule these days?

Carl: Thankfully, a lot better. If someone emails me, I'll be in touch with 24 hours (weekends or holidays 48 hours.) This is now my fulltime job. When you contact me, we can talk about what you need, and I'll give you an honest estimate on how long it will take. Usually a week or less. If a writer needs a lot of changes, it can take a bit longer.

Joe: You've always done my covers pretty quickly.

Carl: You usually know exactly what you want. Authors should look at the covers on my website, and covers of their favorite books, and show me the style they're going for. It helps if you know the image you'd like, and if you have taglines and blurbs ready. That speeds the process. But if you're unsure, I'm happy to work with you to figure it out.

Joe: How are your prices?

Carl: Competitive. Much cheaper than what the Artist's Market lists for book covers. I can do an ebook cover for $400. If you also want a paper cover (for Lulu or Createspace, which includes the spine and back cover) I can do that for an extra $100 ($500 total). I can also do less expensive covers for $250. I call these eBookLite covers. They look better than amateur efforts, but aren't as specific as my custom covers. If a writer is just starting out and short on funds, I think it's probably a better way to go than trying to whip up something on your own in MS Paint.

Joe: Hey! I did that with my first covers!

Carl: And how did they sell?

Joe: When I had you redo them, sales went up 30%. Better covers equal better sales. how can people get in touch with you?

Carl: On my website, www.extendedimagery.com.

Joe: So have you ever done covers for authors and they didn't pay? Or they didn't like the end result?

Carl: Funny you should mention that. I currently have ten completed ebook covers that need good homes. If any authors reading this have written books that these covers would fit, email me and I'll let you have them for fire sale prices.

Joe: What's a fire sale price?

Carl: Each of the covers shown below is $150. That's as-is. The writer gives me their name, their title, and they get a 300dpi (high resolution) ebook cover.

Joe: $150 is dirt cheap. And these covers are terrific.

Carl: Thanks. If any author wants to change some things, or add some things, I can do that as well, but I have to charge a bit extra for that, depending on how extensive the changes are. And for an extra $100, I can add a spine and a back cover, so these can be used for paper books on Lulu or Createspace.

Joe: I assume you're only selling these once.

Carl: Right. Each of these is unique. Once someone buys it, it is theirs and theirs alone. So this is first come, first serve. Once it's gone, it's gone.

If you want to inquire about one of these covers, or you want to hire me to do a cover for you, email me. Please specify which cover you're interested in (the number is beneath the image.)


I've sold 7000 ebooks in the last 36 hours, making over $14,000.

For the next three days, I'm making 23 of my titles free on Amazon Kindle.


Blake Crouch is doing the same.


Get them while they're free. :)