The Noob, the Noobvel, and the Search for Cover Art


April 13, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue

I’m a writing newb.

I finished Murphy’s First Law a month ago. But I didn’t, not really. I know that I need revisions.

I’d like to think I’m a newb not a noob, and there is apparently an important distinction between the two (see Urban Dictionary: noob). Both are critters new to and inept at given task, although I’m most familiar with this term used in the context of gaming.

The difference is that newbs know they’re rookies and want to improve their craft. Noobs think they’re all that and a bag of chips in spite of any evidence to the contrary. I’d love to believe that I pulled off the perfect novel on my first try and that I can publish it, receive accolades, and watch the cash roll in. I may be delusional, but I’m not that delusional. In fact, I’m still terrified I’m a noob and unaware of just how much work my noobvel still needs.

Scott D. Southard’s recent post entitled Writers, why does everything have to be a series? shook up all my insecurities again with this passage:

“I’ve noticed two prevalent mistakes that occur often in the first book in a series.

  1. Since the writer is setting up so much material for the series, it can be drowned in explanations and conversations.
  2. There is little payoff in the ending since the writer is saving their “big punches” for later books.”

EEEP! I’m writing the first book in a series! Am I guilty of those things? How can I find out? How can I fix it? How can I prevent myself from showing the world just how much of a noob I am?

I’ve spent tons of time proofreading and editing and doing minor revisions, but I just can’t shake the feeling it’s not there yet. So, what’s a newb to do? Well, I am working with a couple of critique partners, but I want to go further.


I discovered this site a few weeks ago while researching for my post Finding Feedback: Constructive Critique Does ExistAuthonomy is a site hosted by Harper Collins Publishing as a way to find new talent. Writers can post their manuscripts, partial or full, and receive feedback and rankings from readers and other authors. The idea of having a ready-made pool of people who could provide valuable feedback is awesome, even better: Harper Collins reads the highest ranked projects on the site each month!


The problem is that the idea of posting my noobvel on this site terrifies me. Posting my manuscript out there for the world to see and critique sounds a whole lot like jumping naked through burning hoops while covered in gasoline. And as any halfway decent gamer knows, standing in fire is hazardous to your health and a sure sign that you are, in fact, a noob.

But, this is writing not gaming, and as every Garth Brooks fan can tell you: fire1

Fine, Garth! I’ll do it, stop with the guilt-tripping already!

So, I put on my big girl panties, steeled myself in preparation for the onslaught (ie: invested in large quantities of tequila and chocolate), and registered for I can do this. I can put my noobvel up there, take the feedback (good and bad), and use it to make my book better.

Five minutes later: Houston, we have a problem.

To upload on Authonomy, you need cover art. Yes, it is required.

So, I spent the next several hours hunting for some pre-made cover art to use as a stand-in until I’m ready to take the full plunge and hire an artist. If my book was full-blown romance, I’d have plenty of options to choose from, but it’s not and I can’t find anything out there that remotely works with my concept.

So, now this noob has another dilemma. Should I take the plunge and hire a cover artist? I admit that I really would like to have a header for my blog page and Facebook with a tie-in to my novel. So, I scrounged around a bit trying to locate custom cover artists, but was disappointed at the small number of results my search through Google provided and really nervous about hiring someone over the interwebs without references or recommendations. I came this close to hiring two separate artists and finally chickened out on both of them, mostly because they were the only two I could find with halfway decent websites.

So, I find myself in need of help again. Fellow writers: Can you recommend any cover artists? I really want someone who can make coordinating Facebook and website banners.

And while we’re at it, any thoughts about Authonomy or jumping into the fire of online feedback in general? Comment below and get involved in the discussion!


15 thoughts on “The Noob, the Noobvel, and the Search for Cover Art

  1. Len says:

    I am afraid I don’t have a clue.

  2. I recently used Crowdspring has a lot of possibilities, but you may have limited interaction and input. Try finding covers that you like where a cover designer was indicated and checking out their websites.
    Aside from seeing if you like a prospective artist’s sample and seeing if they have already made covers for books like yours and checking if those books have actually been published with their name listed as cover designer:
    (1) Find out to what extent you will be involved in the process. How frequently will you exchange emails to see progress and have the opportunity to comment?
    (2) Ask for a description of the artist’s vision for your cover.
    (3) Request to see a brief mock-up of the beginning of your cover just before you sign a contract.
    (4) Inquire about where and how you will be able to use your cover (e.g. on your websites).
    (5) Where is the artist getting the images? How will you know that copyright infringement hasn’t occurred in the artist’s design, and how will you be protected from this, if at all?
    Good luck with your book. 🙂

    • This is great advice! I’m going to have to start keeping a file for all the incredibly useful information I get from you and your blog, btw. Thanks, Chris, for taking the time to share. 🙂

  3. Aldrea Alien says:

    Can’t be much help on where to go as I make my own mock covers using images I’ve made.

  4. You might consider poking most any artist or artistic person you know who’ll take commissions, because the best folks who specialize in cover art aren’t cheap and probably have a waitlist, as far I’ve heard at least. If you want a professional, though, the only one I can think of off the top of my head is April Martinez, who does beautiful work and wants to expand more beyond the Romance genre (

    My only comment about doing it yourself, or having a non-graphic-designer/artist do it, is to really take a hard look at the covers on books that sell well and try to ensure that you get as far away from cat macro territory as possible. It’s harder than it looks, which is why there are posts and lists all over the internet mocking frankly awful covers. I don’t want you to end up on one of those lists. :-/

    • Darn it, and I was sooo hoping for my very own post on’s WTF sci-fi covers! I’m kidding. As obsessed as I am with memes, I don’t really want to be one. (Kira makes a note that she’s overusing memes as images in her blog and must find new image sources.)

      I have noticed that most trad published Urban Fantasy novels follow a pretty specific style: image of girl on mostly black background and the rest of the image in tones of the same color. I just wonder if I can find something that follows the convention, thereby resonating with the intended audience, without being unremarkable.

      Anyway, I’ll definitely check out April’s site. Thanks for the suggestion!

  5. kelpiemoon says:

    Hi Kira, thanks for commenting on my blog the other day. I’d never heard about Authonomy but my sister and I have both been members of this workshop for many years.
    Not sure if you’ve heard of it, but the community is pretty cool. I’m not on it now cuz I’ve been taking a break and I’m not trying to “sell” you anything, but it is free for a month just to try out. – No cover art required. It requires you to read and critique other authors to get points to post your stuff. I’ve found that this system is really helpful because while you may not see the flaws in your work, you will see them in other people’s stuff. And even if you decide not to stick around, you might meet up with some cool folks.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, kelpie. I actually did check it out and was considering that it might be worth the membership fee when I hit a snag: the max post they allow is 7500 words and the max you can split the post into is 3 posts. So, it looks like this site is intended more for getting reviews on short stories or just segments of your work. It won’t work for my 100k book, but it still may be what someone else out there is looking for 🙂

      • kelpiemoon says:

        Hi again Kira,
        If you want to post the book in its entirety then authonomy is the place for you.

        However, just to clarify (especially for anyone else out there) at the OWW you’re allowed to post 3 “chapters/sections/ stories” at a maximum of 7500 words each for a total of 22500 words at one time.

        Once you think you’ve gotten enough feedback on each section, you can take down that chapter and post another.

        This allows members to get detailed feedback on their works bit by bit. Reviewers can then look at your stuff line by line and nitpick for grammar and everything else. This gives you time to go through everything with a fine tooth comb as well.
        Best of luck!

      • That’s a good point. I’m looking for more general feedback on the overall story at this point, so I overlooked it. My bad. That type of detailed analysis would be much more helpful once I’m a little further along. Thanks! 🙂

  6. kelpiemoon says:

    P.S Only just noticed that Ilona Andrews is one of your fave authors, you might like to know she was an OWW member (according to my sis who has been there far longer than I). She’s probably on the member success stories listing somewhere.

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