Prisma: An Inadvertent Cover-Creating App?

Prisma app logo

A friend of mine has told me that covers should look good, because people unfortunately do judge books by their covers. With that in mind, I try to create the best covers I can, using what resources I have and looking to friends when I can’t do something with a cover. And recently, I came across an app that I think I can add into my cover creating resources: Prisma.

I got this app on the suggestion of a friend, who told me that it can be used to make your own artwork out of photographs (I’ve got my own apartment these days, and I’m looking to put some more art on the walls without breaking the bank). Prisma is a recent creation dating back to June 2016, and was created by Alexey Moiseenkov. The app relies on artificial intelligence and a neural network to take photos on your phone and turn it into art. The best part is, you can choose from forty different art styles–or as they’re called in app-language, “filters”–in turning your photos into art. Some of these filters come standard when you download, while I believe others can be bought from a store.

Take this selfie of me, pre-filter:

Now put it through the Comic filter:

Not bad, right?

Now here’s a shot of my multivitamins:

Put it through the Roy filter:

It makes no sense to me, so it must be art!

Yeah, it’s a fun app, and the filters allow for some really wonderful, one of a kind pictures for your personal gallery. But I realized soon after I made some art pieces with the app that there were further uses for this app than just stuff for my wall. Perhaps uses that even Mr. Moiseenkov hadn’t thought of. What if you could use this app to give your cover a special touch?

Yeah, we work hard on our covers. We learn Photoshop, we download stuff from the internet, we take special shots in the middle of the night while it’s snowing heavily (or is that just me?). But sometimes we feel like there’s something missing, something that makes the cover perfect. Why not add a little art to it?

For example, here’s a cover provided to us by our good friend Joleene Naylor, who downloaded it from The photo was uploaded by a user called–I kid you not–remains:

It’s a good cover, and gives an idea of what sort of story it is. Problem is, the impression might be a bit too general, to the point that you worry it seems too run-of-the-mill.

Now put it through the Candy filter:

Nice! Not only does it look like it was painted, but the effect kind of brings to mind a strange, Warhol-esque vibe. Maybe this story takes place in Greenwich Village in the sixties, and there’s a hippie girl who isn’t so into peace and love, or something. Slap on a title and author name and you’re good to go to publish!

Bottom line, there’s plenty of potential for creating covers with Prisma. With so many different styles to choose from, there’s sure to be a way to make your cover look special. Download it to your phone, give it a go, and see for yourself.


6 Steps to Publishing on a Shoestring

A while ago I did a article about 14 Tips to Marketing and Promoting on a Shoestring, I thought to continue my thought process by writing an article about Publishing on a Shoestring.

I grew up in a poor family with parents who worked hard and didn’t have extra money to spend. Now I can go into a lengthy story of the whys, whos, and whatfores, but I’m not going to. Needless to say, we were a DIY family that lived on a shoestring. In most ways, now that I have my own family and business, I’m still a DIY person living on a shoestring.

In 2007 I was going the traditional route because the only thing I knew about self-publishing was from vanity presses and I wanted nothing to do with them.So I didn’t need to know anything about book cover design, interior book formatting, etc.

Fast forward 6 months. I met Ruth (Ruth Ann Nordin) and we started talking. I learned a lot about self-publishing and I started looking more into it. In 2008 I decided that was my route for a number of reason, the biggest one being time restraints. I can publish at my own rate with self-publishing, not so with traditional publishing if I want to make money at it.

My husband is uber-supportive of my businesses, both as a writer and a book cover designer, but that doesn’t mean that I had money to spend. That first year (2009) my hubby and I decided that we couldn’t afford much for start-up money. So I had to do everything I could at free or the lowest possible cost.

Basically my income from my writing and a little start-up money my hubby and I agreed we could remove from our tight budget would have to do me for a year. It almost didn’t support my writing habit. 😀

I learned a few lessons that year about publishing a book for as close to free as possible:

1. Write the book. This costs you nothing but time and effort, but it’s necessary. You can’t publish without a book. 😀 Articles on Writing Basics

2. Learn to format your book yourself. There are people who will for a price format your book for print and ebook. If you go with out of these people make sure they know what they are doing before you contact them. Also look for someone who doesn’t charge an arm, two legs, and your first born child. Some people can’t format, but they’ll charge you anyways. If you want to DIY it, there are some great articles provided by the eStore and print companies that will tell you exactly what you have to do. Articles on Formatting

3. Create a dynamic cover. You need a great cover to sell books. Drawing your own covers doesn’t always cut it. Yeah, I know some people can draw. More often then not, people can’t and will still draw their own cover. Taking your own pictures doesn’t always work either, Don’t believe me? Let me show an example. (Clicking on the covers will send you to a page where you can view a bigger version, no buy links.) Articles on Book Covers

My Lord Hades: the first cover was a picture of a friend of my sister who I cropped and changed his eyes. The image was blurry. The cover doesn’t work for the genre. The second cover was a buy, the image was sharper and people responded more favorably to it.

Persephone: The first cover was a picture I took on a snowy, foggy day behind the house, I added a picture of a girl given to me by a friend. I liked the concept, but it needed more color. The second it a copy of the cover that I’m working on now. It works better for the genre and the book.

5. Edit your book. You can hire someone to edit your book, but make sure you hire someone good and don’t be surprised if you still get “this book needs editing” comments. I know a few authors who have been burned by editors that don’t really edit and still cash the check. I would suggest having people look over or book and point out the grammatical they see, or problems in the plot or characters. You can use Articles on Editing & Rewriting to help you.

6. Publish your book. I start with print and upload my files to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. I wanted to use Lightning Source, but it was too expensive and out of my league of expertise. It’s still a great place to go if you have the money and everything formatted for print. Or you can use places like Createspace. It cost nothing to upload a print books on their site and sell them. Articles on Publishing

Hope this helps and good luck! 😀