The In The After Cover Will Be ….

Number 4! 

It wasn’t a landside, Number 1 was a close contender followed by the others … but Number 4 was the one, at the end of the day that will bring this story home.

Your votes and opinions were incredibly helpful, I cannot thank you all enough!

It’s incredibly exciting to know what the face of the novel will be and it has helped me to refine the story, and allowed me to hone in on the most interesting undercurrent of them all.

Thank you again to all of you who voted!


Ash MP

Which Cover? I Simply Can’t Decide …

Well … Renu has done it again.  And, I’m hopelessly confused.  Each cover is beautiful in its own right.  So, help a writer out … which cover would you like to see IN THE AFTER published with?  If your vote goes towards the winning cover, your name will appear in the gratitude portion of the novel!


Book Cover Number One












Book Cover Number Two












Book Cover Number Three












Book Cover Number Four











Please feel free to leave comments explaining your choice if you’re so inclined …

Interview With Cover Artist Renu Sharma

Today is ultra-special because I’m able to introduce you all to the über talented Renu Sharma, digital artist extraordinaire.   As with all of recommendations, Renu is someone I worked with on THE MILESTONE TAPES revised cover.  She and I worked through e-mails to capture the vibe and essence of my book–which she nailed with limited instruction and her unmatched skill.  She has a way with pictures–the ability to capture the light and dark of an image and bring it to life.  She has a true gift.

She was so good, I couldn’t keep her to myself…


Tell us about you (where you live, what your interests are, do you have hobbies…etc…):

I was born and raised in Noida, India. Being a part of the NCR(National Capital Region) the proximity to cultural and artistic events is a blessing.  After art, my second love would be music, especially rock and metal music from bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle and so on. Love watching movies, favorite genres would be fantasy, comedy and drama; but any genre would do till the time it is nicely made.


What made you interested in doing book covers:

Ever since I began to create art, I’ve always been more interested in the creating part than trying to sell it off.  I sold my first book cover about a year back. Recently, another writer stumbled upon my work and contacted me. She turned out to be an angel and told me about kindleboardsforum and insisted that I could do really great as a book cover artist, so here I am!

Have you ever done any book covers for publishing houses, or do you work strictly with Indie Authors?  What other mediums for your art (print, magazines, etc…) 

So far, I have only worked with Indie authors but am open to working with publishing houses as well. As a graphic designer, I’ve designed websites, brochures, ads, social media pages and so on .And, if I ever get around to it I’d love to work for musicians as well for album art and such someday.


Your art is amazing!  Can you explain the process to us?

I do both traditional drawings on paper and digital artwork. Some of the digital art is painted with a pen tablet from scratch till finish, while most of the recent work including all the book covers is through photo manipulation.  When creating an artwork that is not commissioned, I look around stock pictures to see something that inspires me, and then work on them on photoshop, also taking the aid of a pen tablet to create the artwork that you see in my gallery.


What is the length of time from raw photograph to finished piece?

That mainly depends on the detailing involved in the artwork but it usually do it in about 5-7 hours.


How many covers have you done?

So far, I have sold 8 covers including 2 commissions.


Do you do this work full-time or do you have another job?

After realising this is what I want to do, I do this full-time now.


Is there a wait list?

None as of yet.


You have a portfolio of work that doesn’t have an Author behind it, which is where I purchased my cover image….can you explain how that works?  What is the pricing of those almost-finished pieces?

Apart from the pieces on sale which are for $120.00, the prices vary from $250.00 to $550.00 depending on the amount of time an artwork has consumed.


What does that price include?  (amount of revisions, font, alterations to the image–if any)

The price includes the artwork at the highest resolution available, a component for doing the fonts and resizing of the work if required in 2-3 different dimensions. I don’t mind doing minor alterations and revisions for up to 2-3 times because I want the client to be happy about it.

You also do commissioned work–which is totally custom–once an Author commissions you, generally speaking, how long does it take to receive the finished proof?

So far In case of the commissions I have already done, after the initial payment has been made and both the author and I have agreed upon the stock images to be used, I request for a time-frame of bout a week, and have always been able to deliver within it .


What is the price of something like that? (please be totally descriptive)

The price of the completed artwork is based on the number of stock images used, the amount of overpainting it is going to take to get the desired effect, the kind of fonts to be used and how much of styling they need. The price ranges from $250.00 to $550.00 again.


What does that price include? (amount of revisions, font, alterations to the image, brainstorming sessions?)

That price includes everything that a pre-made artwork includes. In addition to that, it includes finding and selecting just the pictures that fit the author’s description of the character to be on the cover. I also ask for an overview of the story and character description so I can come up with ideas of my own to suggest to the author for the cover. After the idea gets a go ahead, I start working on it.


Sometimes you run specials….how often do you do that and what is a “normal” special for you?

The specials running right now are the ones I did quite a while ago, more like practice artworks So I don’t mind selling them for a lesser price because they aren’t as detailed and time-consuming as are the more recent ones. I will certainly run specials in future as well for artworks which are ‘quickies’ but still turn out to be good enough.


Have you ever worked with an Author that was simply impossibly (no names)?  What do you do when you come across conflicting ideas?

Luckily, all the authors I have worked with so far have been really nice and very co-operative to work with like yourself.


I’ve read your contract, but for those who haven’t, can you explain what you ask of an Author before starting their cover?

In case of a commission, I ask for at least 50% of the payment upfront so I can start working on the artwork. Once it is complete and we’re both happy with it, I send a signed agreement to the author and ask for a signed and scanned copy back. The agreement includes the rights to use the artwork for all kinds of promotion related to that particular book. It also is exclusively sold to that author so I cannot sell it to anybody else for commercial purpose. For right now, my art is royalty free to be used. In case of pre-made artworks, first and foremost we go with the agreement. Once done with that, follows the payment from the client’s part and the completed book cover from my end.


What is your favorite genre to work with?  Do you have a preference?

I’d have to say that I love fantasy, dark themed work will come a close second, all in all any art that includes people . These would be my preferences but I do not mind taking other kinds of works either like dragons, zombies, landscapes etc.


What are some of the high challenges that come with working with clients over the internet as opposed to face to face or via phone?

The biggest challenge is to not be able to get a prompt response from the client sometimes. It takes a few days at times  to get simplest of things further.


Closing remarks…anything you want to just say or tell us….now’s the time!!

I just want to say that it is really amazing to be able to collaborate with other artists (writers) to bring the magic of imagination to the world. I hope my art on your cover grabs a lot more of people’s attention so you have a lot many readers. I am really looking forward to doing a lot of book covers! Art is the best thing to ever have happened to me. My all time favorite quote which goes to all the artists and writers:

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. – Twyla Tharp.

Thank you for doing this interview Ashley, cheers!

(You can reach Renu Sharma at or view her work portfolio and images for sale on her Facebook page :))


I feel this is the perfect opportunity to show you what Renu can do.  I’m officially releasing the rekindled cover THE MILESTONE TAPES.

THE MILESTONE TAPES is written in a series of months rather than chapters, giving the reader the sensation of time and what the passing of it means. The season of fall plays a key role in the story.  As we all know, when autumn comes the leaves fall, the nights get longer, the air grows a little colder and life changes.  For both Mia and Jenna, fall means the end of life as they know it and the beginning of a new reality.   With Renu’s image and skill, she was able to bring that to life for me–and hopefully–for my readers as well.

Artist Credit: Renu Sharma

A Change…

We’re back on covers, folks.  (Does publishing ever feel like a never ending merry-go-round?  I’m totally on board right now–spinning, spinning, spinning–two steps forward, five back)

Let me begin with this: The 11th hour change was as unexpected and surprising to me as it will be for you.  We all know how much effort and energy I poured into it making the original cover “just so”…now, the change that is coming…while exciting, as anything creative naturally is, it’s also equally surprising…

I like my first cover and I was initially thrilled with it.  It fell snuggling within my budget (hooray!) and the artist, Christine, came highly recommended (double hooray!!).  It was a wonderful experience working with her and she did capture my self-imagined image perfectly.  I cannot recommend her enough to anyone looking for an artist to make cover magic happen…and I cannot find fault with her on anything, whatsoever, this is all me–100%.

But…because there is always a but…

A couple of things happened…

1. Christine is highly sought after.  Her business blooms constantly and a wait-list developed rather quickly.

This created sort of a kink in the armor, shall we say.  I plan to have THE MILESTONE TAPES available for both print-on-demand (POD publishing) and electronically.  I always knew this was the agenda for the book, but–for whatever reason–I failed to commission a spine and back design at the time I commissioned the cover. My bad. Christine made a public announcement saying she was booked solid for a good and long time. Ergo, if I stay the corse, I’ll be putting off publishing for an undetermined amount of time simply because Christine is so popular–good for her, bad for me.

2. The more the original stared at me from the screen of my computer, the more I wasn’t sure.  I need to be sure-sure.

When you’re going it alone, like I obviously am, everything from editing to a cover matters a whole lot.  And the entire onus of your product, your brand is on you–you and you alone.  What you put out, you need to love–you should love it with every fiber of your being, that’s sort of the point of keeping your spoon in the pot for the whole process.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you get ONE CHANCE with your book to make the biggest splash possible.  Without a marketing machine behind you, your responsible for your own ship.

Once I started to think it over seriously…look at it through the eyes of the reader…I wasn’t sure if it had the pop I originally believed it did.  Again, this isn’t about anyone but me.  I’m most critical of my own creations, that should be fairly obvious by now, and my critical side was giving me the “hmmm” voice.

3. While the “rights” to use the image for my cover are mine–whereas, promotional usage is limited.  I cannot create book marks or magnets or any other swag with its likeness.

That, right there, is a big flippin’ deal.  Again, something I didn’t know, but am smarter for figuring out now as opposed to later.

This is a good thing for us all to think about, really: If you’re ever going to use the image for anything other than the cover, you’re SOL unless you’re willing to shell out serious cash for all the rights.  And let’s face it, if you’re an Indie Author and you’re beating feet traveling to book fairs and pub clubs and panels, you need to offer something to your public, funds be damned really.  You, as the author, need the trinkets that say to someone “buy my book!”.  Have you ever been at an Expo and saw a product that was great but you wanted to think about it, only, you forgot to get the card?  That’s what this whole thing equates too.  It’s the deal sealer, the final offering…it’s you’re appeal of: please, take this book mark and remember me.

So, that changed things.

Again, I was out there looking for someone to do something amazing….

I discovered an artist, Renu Sharma, who does original work.  She is extremely creative and her digital art is some of the most beautiful work I’ve ever seen.  I couldn’t afford her.

Renu works as a commission artist.  That simply means, she hires models, takes their pictures, digitally changes the image to reflect an otherworldly theme and makes magic happen.  They are sincerely original–from the model to the finished piece.  That comes with an equivalent price tag.

I originally contacted Renu to work with me on my second cover.  But, she launched a fall sale on pre-done, noncommissioned work.  The process is all the same…original model, original piece, only, the ones on sale were homeless.

THE MILESTONE TAPES is a character driven piece of literature.  It pings into the lives of imaginary people with all the gusto of real life.  Since I write women’s fiction or literary fiction, the world is real while the people are not.  But, it all needs to stay grounded in the “it could be real” realm of writing, it should all feel real–the characters should be interchangeable with people you know.

Have you ever been haunted by something?  That one thing you should have bought because it would have been perfect?

Welcome to feeling that inspired the change.

While cruising the “sale section” of Renu’s portfolio I discovered the most magical, beautiful, haunting image of this little girl.  She had dark chestnut hair and ethereal blue eyes with the sweetest pouty lips.  She was my Mia.  Okay, not literally Mia…but as the author, I can tell you, that is Mia.  The highlights of dark and light and the innocence of the face, my guttural reaction was–that’s my girl. Oh my God, the moment itself was surreal, it was as though I looking at a picture of my character.  It was seeing her…which tripped me out…but also inspired me to rethink my stance on covers at large.

When I wrote Mia, it was after I had written Gabe and Jenna.  I knew what they looked liked, I had fleshed them out so clearly and I mashed them up to create their child; his eyes, her hair, his nose, her smile.  So seeing a photo that so entirely caught that image and held it–it was more like seeing them all stare back at me from the screen of my computer.  How do you walk away from that moment?  The answer is, you don’t.

I quickly took a screen shot and sent it to the only other person who has read my book cover to cover.  She loved it.  Her exact response was  “Mia?” and all I had to say was… “Mia.”

While it’s more literal than the first cover, it’s still falls way short of spelling out the context of the book.  I am not generally a fan of characters on covers.  I feel like there are times when “spelling it out” steals an experience from the reader, the chance they have to–in their own mind–create the character in the image of which the writing inspires.  But, I can’t help myself.  This girl needs to be on my cover.

So…change, it is a coming.

Soon THE MILESTONE TAPES will have a new beautiful face lift…and I will be the real owner of it, free to use it for any and all promotional plugs I desire.  I will probably still use the original cover in some fashion or another–a special release or paper back edition–but I am so drawn to the new cover, I can’t make promises.