In the beginning of 2015, I was in a mad rush. I wanted to create as many stories as possible so that if people liked what I was writing, they'd be inclined to check out more of my work. I had just published the original version of Netherworld (The Gods of Chaos, Vol 2) and was excited to be making good headway. I had a story that I worked on years before, but only made it half way through before letting it sit. Quite honestly, I was inspired by the Saw movie series, so much so that the novel I was creating took on far too many similarities, and I just didn't want to continue it. But within it was a foundation of a story that would become Azazel
But at the time, I was stressing myself out a little too much. I had this grand concept of what The Djinn Trials was supposed to be, but there was just so much to do. I wanted a hundred different story lines weaving together seamlessly, but all I had was Jackie Boy's story (The Gods of Chaos series) to build upon. That was part of the reason I rushed this story. It was originally 150 pages, a quick read for most. And although it was well-received by my readers for the most part, I realized a few things needed to be spruced up. The next month, I went back through and corrected a few plot holes and continuity errors and vagueness. It ended up adding 50+ pages, and that was without adding any more chapters. The story now works.
After fixing the story, the struggle came in with the cover art. First off, I must say that I am stubborn when it comes to my projects. I want things done a certain way, and I know I should probably delegate certain aspects (which as of today, my editor is the only person that provides a paid service on my novels, with the exception of paid ads). I am a control freak when it comes to these things. I want to know every aspect in case something falls through. Also, I'm not going to avoid the issue that each piece that I don't divvy out saves me on the financial side.
The biggest obstacle was to open my mind enough to allow creative freedom to run freely again. Three years ago, I had no Photoshop experience. So, I turned to what I knew, acrylic painting. The "Man in the Chair" Azazel cover was done through that medium. It was a good painting, but a very static setting. The problem with paint is you can't redo it. Technically you can, but once you reach a certain point, it'd just be easier to redo the entire thing. Experimentation lost its way to planning and execution. The image was probably one of my best paintings, but the image was not dynamic cover art.
Next was a first run through Photoshop. I was excited with how easy it was to throw images together, but the complexity of the program was still lost on me. I experimented with many different variations of this "Fire House" cover art and I thought it stood out. Unfortunately, looking at all the different novels out there for the thriller and supernatural suspense genres, I realized it was lacking as well. It just didn't look as professional as the others. So I started really studying what it was that made these others look so good. True, a few mainstream authors had garbage cover art, but their names sold anything. I can't compete with that, at least not yet.
So this is where I've come with the artwork. Quite honestly, when I put it together, I had the same amount of excitement as the "Fire House". But this time, I knew I had grown as a digital artist. I learned so much on Photoshop, and yet there is so much more to learn. And I can only hope that within another year or two, I can look back upon this image "A Man With His Gun" and see how much I had improved within that time.
As depressing as this journey of being an author can be sometimes, and as much as I feel like a promo turned into a disaster, I keep reminding myself that I have to use those failures as experience. I clearly cannot stop doing this, I already know that. If I could have, I'd have done so already, probably multiple times. Nope, I'm in this for the long haul. So each failure is a learning experience. I literally have to break down what worked and what didn't. And if I can keep progressing and making better things with each new experiment, then the highs will far outlast any lows I experience.
So, I would just like to say thanks for being a reader and supporting me as an artist and author. Keep checking in occasionally. I still have a lot to do with my Djinn Universe, but I'll do my best to keep my head in the game until the Gods tell me otherwise!
Info about Azazel, or my other novels can be found HERE.