In September of 2022, we snarked a cover, Planet Oster: Fertility Fusion.
The cover designer, who is also one half of the writing team behind the series, reached out to me saying that they were unironically flattered that we’d snarked the cover, and asked if I’d like to talk about the process and the behind the scenes of the design work.
Of course I said yes.
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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:
You can find J on Instagram and Twitter @JayElWrites.
Here is the original cover snark post we mentioned at the start of the episode.
And I also mentioned this interview with cover artist Joe DiCesare.
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Sarah Wendell: Hello and welcome to episode number 564 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell, and my guest today is J Logosz. Now, you may recall back in September we snarked a cover on Smart Bitches called Planet Oster: Fertility Fusion. You might remember it; there were three pastel, muscular people with bunny ears in space. The cover designer, who is also one half of the writing team behind the series, reached out to me and said that they were unironically flattered that we had snarked this cover and asked if I’d like to talk about the process and behind-the-scenes of the design work. So of course I said yes; there’s no question I say yes. [Laughs] So that is what we’re talking about today. We’re going to cover cover design in Canva and how different flavors of romance have different visual cues. Thank you so much to J for reaching to me about this. I had such a good time with this conversation, and I learned a ton.
I will have links to all of the places you can find their books and the covers themselves in the show notes at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast.
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All right, are you ready to talk about bunnies in space? Let’s totally do this! On with the podcast.
J Logosz: My name is J Logosz, and I am one half of the co-writing team behind the Holiday Hedonism series? I’m also a DIY, self-taught cover designer.
Sarah: So the Holiday Hedonism series recently featured in Cover Snark with Planet Oster: Fertility Fusion, which was an absolute eyegasm of color and head tilt and fabulousness, and you pitched me, you emailed me and said, You snarked a cover I designed, and I was unironically flattered. Okay. Thank you, that’s amazing, one of the best pitches I’ve ever received.
J: [Laughs] Well, thank you.
Sarah: Second, tell me about this cover we snarked; please tell me about Planet Oster: Fertility Fusion.
J: So the book itself is a poly m/m/m/f sci-fi omegaverse romance, and I think I got a pretty good amount of that on the cover. You have three shirtless men of various pastel Easter colors –
J: – above a planet, very suggestive spaceship.
Sarah: And, and the, the, the fabulous element of the spaceship, which is indeed very phallic, is that it’s about to go under the rings of, of this planet, so it’s, it’s like even the planet is suggestive.
J: Yes, I had a lot of fun with that. [Laughs]
Sarah: And, and it, and it works ‘cause these guys are all, they’re all Peep colored.
J: Yeah! They’re all Peep colored in the book as well, so I figured, you know, half the job of the cover is weeding out interest? Like, is this something that somebody’s going to want to read? So if you are not down for multicolored bunny aliens in space, then, you know, it’s just not for you and you can move on!
Sarah: That’s a really interesting perspective, because a lot of the time when I talk to cover designers and I talk to marketing or sales departments at publishers, they talk about communicating to the reader what the book is, and you’re talking about communicating to the reader if the book is not for them.
J: Yes. We write some pretty niche stuff in our series, and we’re not, you know, trying to trick anybody into reading it if it’s not what they’re interested in.
Sarah: So when you look at the cover and you think, Are those shirtless, pastel-colored bunny guys? It, the book does what it says on the tin, basically. There are shirtless, bunny-eared, pastel people in the book.
J: Yes. There are three of them.
Sarah: It’s the bunny ears that kills me. Like, every time I look at this cover I’m like, Yep, pretty standard alien – wait, no, hang on; those are bunny ears. How did you put this cover together? Because I know this is a lot of, this is stock image, right?
J: Yes. I am using only, like, assets from Canva for this cover.
Sarah: Wow! So how did you put this together? Because the bunny ears in particular is just the thing that makes me the most delighted.
J: [Laughs] Okay, so the process on the cover was, the first thing I did was, you have to find the torsos for the guys.
J: They’re not going to…faces, whether or not the pictures have the faces in them, those faces are not going to make the cut because there’s no way I’m going to try to Photoshop rabbit faces onto these poor men. So you have to find the three appropriate torsos and then find ears that match the general directions of where their heads would be if they were visible. The pink one has his back to the viewer of the book, and so I had to just comb through every rabbit image on Canva to find one with the back of the bunny ears.
Sarah: I can’t tell you the amount of joy it gives me to hear, Well, you start with the torsos.
J: You’ve got to start with the torsos. All you really need for an indie cover, like – and I’m going to be pretty frank in how the sausage is made here, ‘cause why not?
Sarah: Please do! Please do.
J: Like, my thought is you only really need one good image asset for most covers; however, if you’re going to have three guys in the book and you’re going to put three guys on the cover, you need to find three appropriate torsos. Like, none of the guys have tattoos; they’re covered in fur, so I can immediately cut out the same five guys with tattoos who end up on all the indie covers.
J: Like, those guys are not…work for me.
Sarah: Wow. So you start with your torsos, and because you’re dealing with bunny aliens you can’t have tattoos.
J: No tattoos, no faces, because it’s, in my opinion it’s worse to try to make that work than it is to just kind of artistically edit it out –
J: – the fact that the faces are not human.
Sarah: It’s also, I think, for a lot of the cover stock imagery of very muscular torsos, the, the people who are doing these modeling jobs are effectively, they’re like bodybuilders, right? So they’re spending a lot of time on that physique. That physique just doesn’t show up one morning; like, you’ve got to really work at it. And they’re not necessarily modeling to emote from their faces; they are modeling to show their musculature, so you’re not going to get a lot of variation in expression from what I’ve seen either. Is that the case?
J: I do think that’s the case, and, like, you know, I, I have to occasionally call them torsos, but, like – [laughs] – legitimately one thing that’s tough is if you have a very clear image of the character in your book or in your own head, if you’re doing the cover before you write the book? Like, that is not going to match anybody that you’re going to find in these free or, you know, subscription image libraries.
J: So the books with just, like, the torsos and the, you know, nose down get a bad rap, but at the same time, do you really want to see their entire facial expression? Probably not.
Sarah: No. I used to joke, because headless covers started showing up probably about fifteen years ago, and I used to joke – from mainstream presses – I imagine that there was like a support group meeting of all the heads?
Sarah: Like, Bro, I looked so good, and it is just my chin. Man, but your chin looks so good! I just want to, want to support you, and your chin looks fabulous! Thanks, man; your jawline looked good. And then all their heads are just – [snick] – right at the neck.
J: Right at the neck.
Sarah: Right at the neck.
J: We don’t need the…you’ll imagine whatever face you want to imagine anyway.
Sarah: So you had to find the three torsos, and then you had to find rabbits who were looking the correct way that you could Photoshop the rabbit ears on top of their heads effectively.
J: Correct. And, like, just kind of the same angle, because you could flip it horizontally, but it has to line up. And the other important thing to note is the color of the rabbit also mattered a lot, because the color filters that you put on the human skin needs to be vaguely the same shade as the color filters that you put on the furry little rabbit ears?
J: So if I found like a dark brown rabbit that’s facing the right direction, great ears, I slap that filter on it, it’s a completely different shade of pink and I can’t, you know, fumble with it until it’s the right color. It’s just not going to work; we need a new rabbit.
Sarah: Okay. So that seems really time consuming.
J: I mean, Canva has a really good mobile interface? So I don’t really use a computer; I really just use a phone, and I can…
Sarah: Wow, that’s impressive!
Sarah: That’s very impressive! I would, I, I’m looking, like, at a large version of the cover, and the ears and, and the heads, they all line up! Like, you really nailed the perspective on that one too!
J: It’s close enough. I can critique my own work till the end of time, but –
Sarah: Oh –
J: – perfect’s the enemy of done.
Sarah: Yeah, me too. Yeah. Shipping beats perfection always.
So, and, and the other thing about a cover is that it has to do a lot of work in a large size and a small size, so when you’re looking at it on a phone, do you, like, zoom in and zoom out? Because it has to be, like, when you look at it on a screen and it’s like three inches tall versus on your phone when it’s an inch tall, you have to be able to read and see all of that at these different sizes, right? Do you, do you zoom in? Do you look at it on a computer?
J: No, I’ve never really pulled it up on the computer, but I zoom in and out just with the screen on the phone, yeah.
Sarah: Right. So you got your dudes, you got your rabbits, and then you needed a planet and a very suggestive space ship.
J: So the fact that the spaceship is very suggestive is just a great coincidence.
J: I can’t…what do we have in the image asset library that’s a spaceship that’s not cartoony? It’s vaguely realistic enough to fit with the vaguely realistic torsos, and after I found that one it’s like, nope, we’re going to make that work. ‘Cause it’s perfect.
Sarah: I, I, I have to wonder: is there a large population of suggestive spaceships in the Canva paid subscription area?
J: No. There’s not. I was luck-, I was lucky to find a single spaceship that – how do I say this? – I try to pick images that they all look like they’re in the same room, right? So I’m not going to have…cartoony spaceship next to like a realistic planet, and the realistic spaceships are all very close to what we have for spaceships on planet Earth?
J: So…like a future alien one that’s not the Enterprise, it’s not a Millennium Falcon, it’s not the space shuttle, that was the first one I found, and I didn’t really keep looking after that, ‘cause it was perfect.
Sarah: It, it is really excellent. I’m surprised I haven’t seen it elsewhere, because, like you said, I will spot the same model and the same pose, and often the same couple on several covers. That is the first time I’ve seen that spaceship, and it is, it is top tier.
J: It’s out there for the taking. I encourage everybody to use the horny dick spaceship.
Sarah: I would like to see lots of horny dick spaceship; let me speak this into existence.
So did you design this cover before you wrote this book?
J: I designed it in like our first couple weeks of working on it, yeah.
Sarah: How, how long have you been doing the cover design?
J: I started fooling around in Canva around December of 2021, but this was the first one in the series. Like, if you look ‘em up on Amazon, this is the first one that has my cover work attached.
Sarah: Oh wow! Does it help your writing process to design the cover while you’re drafting?
J: Yes, absolutely.
Sarah: So what other covers of your work have you designed?
J: Okay, so available on Amazon to see easily, there’s also Sacrificed to the Freedom Dragons, which is our Fourth of July patriarchy-smashing fantasy book? And then our most recent one was this past Christmas, The Stockings Were Hung.
Sarah: Oh, well played!
Sarah: I, I –
J: And that, that’s my co-author there: she’s the master of the puns.
Sarah: That is – okay, well played. I love a good, I love a good pun. So let me, let me attempt to describe Sacrificed to the Freedom Dragons. So there’s a, a woman with long, brown hair and really well-done eyebrows – like, my eyebrows do not do that – in a red dress looking over her shoulder, and then there are three stone dragons looming up behind her and an erect tower.
Sarah: And I’m going to assume that there’s three dragons and this particular person, and something is erect during the course of the story.
J: At, at one point they do go to the tower, yes.
Sarah: Oh my goodness. So again, what were you looking for, gargoyles?
J: This one was mainly, I, I needed dragons that did not look terrible like CGI or blender posing dragons.
Sarah: [Laughs] Blender dragons.
J: And that was, that was the closest I could get? [Laughs] And I could slap the coat, like the color filters on them to make them red, white, and blue?
J: The white one’s a little big gray, but you know, we, we do what we can.
J: And then because it’s supposed to be like a throwback to more of an Old Skool clinch cover, I could, I could mess with the tone of the whole thing so it’s not completely out of place that they’re stone, but they’re not actually stone in the novel.
Sarah: Wow. And did you design this one while you were writing it as well?
J: I designed this one before we even started. This one was my idea that I just put the cover together on a lark, and I pitched it to my co-author, and she’s like, Yes, absolutely, immediately.
Sarah: Okay, I love that. And how is this a July 4th story? What, what is the goal of the Freedom Dragons here?
J: [Laughs] Well, the dragons are red, white, and blue, and they have certain emissions that are like fireworks.
Sarah: Oh no. Oh dear. I’m assuming it’s not out of their mouths is what we’re saying here.
J: No! Not coming out of their mouths.
Sarah: No, that would be silly!
J: And when I say that they’re like fireworks, I do mean that in that they’re colorful and they’re sparkly, and they will burn you seriously if you come into contact with them.
Sarah: That seems troublesome. Oh my! And the heroine is Riva, who is a candlemaker. Seems –
Sarah: – seems like an ideal match there for the, for the group!
J: It does.
Sarah: This is, this is an incredible cover. I’m honored to start my day with this cover.
J: And because it was designed prior to any work being done on the book – okay, so the only good woman in a kind of swoony pose that I could find has long dark hair and a red dress. Cool, we can work with that; we can work the red dress into the novel. We can mention that she has dark hair. She can fit the cover –
J: – because, like, the idea, like, the, the concept of the idea is there when I make the cover. All the rest of it gets fleshed out later as we hit the creative process.
Sarah: Right. And I’ve, for as long as I have been writing about romance, one of the major complaints of readers is the cover doesn’t match the book: the, the hair color is wrong; the style is wrong; this doesn’t match. You’re, you’re deliberately integrating the cover and the book in the creative process at the same time.
Sarah: Do you hear feedback from readers that they appreciate how much it matches?
J: I’m not sure? Most of the feedback that I’ve heard from readers has been on the Oster cover where it’s just kind of been like, LOL, I have no words.
J: Or this…amazingly accurate, and it’s like, Yeah! It sure is! [Laughs]
Sarah: Wow. So if you wanted three pastel-colored bunny dudes in space having sex, this cover and the book deliver exactly what you’re looking for.
J: Exactly! If you want a woman being sacrificed to three freedom-colored dragons, then, you know, dive right in!
Sarah: Does what it says on the tin!
So when you wrote to me, you mentioned that part of your job is distilling the essence of a book into a cover, embracing genre, selecting effective fonts, which thank you – if, I, I am, I am so over seeing Scriptina on covers. It’s been a while, but every time I see it I’m like, No! No, do not come back! – working within available images, and that is a lot of things. Can you take me through some of what’s involved in each element? Like, I understand the distilling the essence of the book into the cover, because you’re integrating the creative process of both into the same workflow; like, that’s very effective. How are some of, what are some of the ways that you embrace genre?
J: So when I wrote that, what I really mean is just kind of like doing your research. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when you make a cover. You can! You can certainly try. Like, if you have a really creative idea you could come up with your whole new way to do a mafia romance cover.
J: But if you want to just key in to people who want to read mafia romance, like, that kernel of an idea is already out there. You could go, you could kind of just scroll through the KU mafia romance covers, and you can see, okay, I could get a guy in a suit and a tie or a guy with a shirt. We’re going to throw some – can’t think of the word; it’s like image distortion; it’s like a layer on there to make it look a little bit dirtier.
J: You’re going to…a certain type of font. Like, you could go in and just, just do your research, just scan, and you will see very quickly what that genre tends towards, and you can just embrace it and go with that, and it will make your job a lot easier.
Sarah: So that’s really interesting, because you’re not only talking about embracing the genre; you’re talking about specifically targeting a subgenre so that mafia romance looks like this. Freedom Dragon romance looks like this, has these elements in common, and you’re not going to apply the same filter of a mafia romance to fuck bunnies in space. Like, those are not the same genre.
J: No, exactly. So it’s like if you’re writing a Western, is it historic? Is it contemporary?
J: Sci-fi, you could do sci-fi Westerns too; that’s always fun. If you’re writing a, if you’re writing a billionaire romance, is it more lighthearted, or is it darker? If it’s darker you’re going to, you know, you’re going to drop the brightness; you’re going to use a, again, like, you could put different filters on there. You’ll use a different color for the font, you know, or a guy with like a bright yellow tie, probably. You know, just, just think about what your actual genre is and if you’re image is fitting that.
Sarah: And so you, so essentially, each different flavor of romance, for example all of these very specific tastes, they have visual cues as well, and readers become used to them.
J: Right, and that’s not a bad thing! …
Sarah: No, that’s not bad at all!
J: Just embrace the zeitgeist on covers. Like, I don’t think that’s negative. You don’t want to copy somebody verbatim –
J: – but, like, you can look and get your inspiration and, like I said, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Sarah: It’s really interesting to me that there’s this sort of unspoken code: this cover rep-, this, this, these cover elements represent this particular flavor of romance, whereas these cover elements represent a completely different flavor, and you’re going to aim for the readership of each. Do readers ever mention those elements to you, or is that something that you’ve discovered as you’ve done research for what you’re writing?
J: That’s really just me trolling through Amazon and seeing what’s out there.
Sarah: Right. And there’s plenty out there.
J: Yes, there is a lot.
Sarah: There is a lot. [Laughs]
Now, do you have favorites of your designs?
J: I would say Freedom Dragons and Oster.
J: The Stockings Were Hung is okay, but those two are closest to my heart.
Sarah: [Laughs] How did you figure out how to do this? I know you said you’re self, you’re self-taught. Was this all through tutorials in Canva?
J: So the exact, like, the exact order of events was that my co-author and I were working on a book, and she mentioned Canva to me – I’d never heard of it –
J: – for making, like, promo graphics, and it was one of those times where the Twitter cycle had moved around to, like, illustrated covers being inappropriate for certain types of books, and just as a joke, I wanted to go back and design some illustrated covers for some of our previous short stories, which are largely a plot setup, a gang bang, and then a Happily Ever After, so not the type of thing you actually want to attach an illustrated cover to.
Sarah: No! That doesn’t fit that, like you said, that does not fit that genre.
J: Yes. But went back and I did that for fun, and I posted ‘em, and I, I realized it was just a lot of fun for me to work on?
J: And I don’t think, there were a couple of things I looked up tutorials for, but genuinely just kind of like messing around and trying to ape other people’s designs, and by practicing that, you know, you learn the skills, and then you can create your own stuff.
Sarah: And with The Stockings Were Hung, it is a very simple but effective setup. It’s basically in thirds: you have the title, the dudes and the stockings, and then your author tagline and, and your names, and very simple backgrounds so that the, the, the stockings in question, the garland and the dudes, they all pop!
J: Yep! We got a dark, we got a dark brick background because the setup is a little bit darker –
J: – but there was often an abusive relationship, so we’ve got to get the dark bricks; we don’t want any bright bricks.
J: But that’s just, I don’t know, that’s me having ultimate control of the cover so I can fuss with whatever little things I want to fuss with.
Sarah: Is the control part really enjoyable?
J: I like it, but, you know, I don’t want this interview to come off as discouraging people from going for professional cover designers or hiring artists to do, like, art?
J: One thing with the, with how my co-writer and I work is we write pretty fast; we get an idea, we write it pretty quick, we get it out there, and then we’ll usually enter a little dormancy period, but –
J: – like, really skilled cover designers who are worth their weight in gold? Like, they have waiting lists. They cannot turn around a cover for us or a piece of customized art for us in the timeline of, okay, well, we’re going to try to get this written in four months.
J: Like, okay, well, my, my waiting list starts six months from now, so –
J: – that’s just, that working relationship is just not going to jive on the timeline.
Sarah: Right. And with most things, you can have something that is cheap, you can have something that is fast, and you can have something that is good, but you cannot have all three. The most you get is two. So whereas you, who are the most familiar with your content, you can create these covers that are pretty effective, I should think!
J: I like to think so.
Sarah: Yeah! So are there any other indie covers that you just absolutely love?
J: One of the trends I really love is the monster romance clinch covers?
Sarah: Oh, aren’t they fabulous?
J: I love ‘em. Tiffany Roberts, Lillian Lark, Katee Robert, the recovers of the Morning Glory Milking Farm series; like, I love to see that. And that is cus-, like, that is custom commissioned art –
J: – that they’re using…covers, so it’s not, like, really the same genre as the stuff I’m producing. But I just, I love to see things going in that direction.
Sarah: And one of the things that’s so great about the art covers such as the, The Dragon’s Bride with, by Katee Robert is that style is so close to what covers used to look like.
Sarah: ‘Cause they were originally oil paintings. I have one on my wall behind me that – they were originally oil, like, individually oil – can you imagine the waiting list for an oil painted cover now?
J: You could not turn around the release date within four months.
Sarah: No! No. No, no, no. Unless you ha-, unless you paid somebody quite a lot of money. I, I did an interview with a cover artist who was one of the original artists, who now works for DreamWorks doing, like, clouds in the background of How to Train Your Dragon movies, that kind of thing? Because it’s very hyperrealistic, and he was telling me, he once had to get on the subway in New York with a wet board and try to make sure no one was touching it, ‘cause the, the publisher needed it that day, so that poor guy had to get on the subway with a wet art painting!
J: Oh no!
Sarah: Isn’t that terrible? And what’s fascinating is, much like, much like TikTok, you know, in order to make a TikTok video five years ago maybe, you would have to have Final Cut Pro, which, or, or iMovie or some really, you know, cumbersome piece of software, and now it’s, like, dead easy; it’s on your phone; you can do it just as quickly. And the same is true for a lot of graphic design, too; it’s, with Canva it’s really easy. The learning curve is much, much lower, and it’s easy for people to really come up with great designs.
J: Yeah, and, you know, just in my personal experience, I think it’s pretty intuitive. I don’t want to turn this into a Canva shilling –
Sarah: No, of course not!
J: – but, like, it’s intuitive to use, I can just figure it out in their menu, it’s got a great mobile interface, and that’s all I need. Like, I can’t use, I don’t know how to use Photoshop; I’ve never u-, touched Photoshop in my life. That’s waaay outside of my wheelhouse. But this little imaging, image-editing program online? I can do it with that.
Sarah: Which, you know, helps your bottom line as a, as a business.
J: Yes, that is very true, and especially if you want, like, if you want really good art or really good cover design and you have the budget for it, like, that’s great, but if you don’t have the budget for it and you’re a little indie operation like we are, then you do the best you can with what you have.
Sarah: Yeah, absolutely!
So I always ask this question: what books are you reading that you would like to tell people about?
J: So I actually just finished up reading through all of Dragon Ball Super, and –
Sarah: Oh, awesome!
J: – I really like reading through comics and things like that; like, I’m about to start actually reading One-Punch Man instead of just watching it for the third time, because when you look at really effective visual communication –
J: – you can…how to translate that to effective written communication.
Sarah: Oh, that’s so interesting! What are some of the ways that you’ve noticed reading manga has helped your, your writing?
J: So big action scenes? Like, I really love big action scenes. I like to write ‘em; we have quite a few in Oster and I think one or two in Dragons, but the blocking of the participants within that action and then trying to describe things that are not necessarily intuitive?
J: Like, I say that somebody punches somebody else. Okay, well punching, the human thing, you’re in a fist fight, you can imagine what a punch looks like. But if you’re doing some big, cool space battle with laser blasts, like, how does that look? And then if I were writing that, how would I write it? And so then when I go back and I am writing something like that next time, I can think, Oh, okay, it looks like this; I can write it like this.
Sarah: That is really interesting, because you’re right: in a, in a visual medium like, like Dragon Ball, the fight scene could be, you know, four people in a massive space, but it’s still only going to be on the size of the page. Either it’s going to be zoomed in or it’s going to be like a full shot and you see all of their, like, you see their whole bodies. So you have to visually know what it looks like and then translate that into words, or visually know what that looks like and put it into art.
J: Right. And in, and within the fight scenes, like in Dragon Ball, it’ll zoom in with one frame and it’ll show somebody’s expression change.
J: And you’re writing a fight, and the written version of that little, that little smirk that somebody does that’s going to indicate that something is about to shift? Like, in-, incorporating the written version of that makes your fight scenes, your action scenes, or I’ll say even your sex scenes more dynamic, because talking about blocking like four different people in a big fight scene, that also applies to blocking multi-person sex scenes in a way, so.
Sarah: Certainly! And, and you have to zoom out to what is happening with the physical bodies and then zoom in to what is happening on an emotional level.
Sarah: Whether it’s fighting or it’s fucking.
Sarah: Goes both ways. Oh, that’s fascinating! How many volumes are there of Dragon Ball Super? Like twenty?
J: There are at least seventeen.
Sarah: So that’ll take some time.
J: Oh yeah! No, I, I, you know, it’s a quick read, because there is a lot of action scenes, but yeah, it takes a little while to get through.
Sarah: It is so interesting to me that reading, reading manga influences and informs your writing, and I mean, it makes perfect sense, but I never thought about that connection. That’s really interesting!
J: I tend to read a lot outside of my genre because I think it makes my writing stronger, no matter what I am working on.
Sarah: Right. Absolutely true; no question. Reading outside of what you’re writing and reading inside what you’re writing, if you’re not writing at that moment, is definitely helpful for strengthening.
J: One-Punch Man in particular has really strong character work –
J: – and character development? Like, it’s not just a guy going out and punching everything? Like, that, like, watching that series – on Hulu I think we had it – was one of the first times I really clued into like, Oh, this is great, actually. This isn’t just, you now, UFC, but animated. This, like, there’s a lot going on here. So I really enjoyed that aspect of it as well.
Sarah: And it, it helps, I think, with making your writing very efficient.
J: Yeah, I’m, I, just me personally, like, there’s room for everybody’s style, but I’m not trying to write two-hundred-word omnibus type of novels.
J: I actually, like, just writing, I tend towards like short-story length.
Sarah: Yeah. Freedom Dragons is 209 pages, and Oster is –
J: I think that one probably falls as a novella, not a novel technically with word count? But –
Sarah: Yeah. Whereas Planet Oster is 343 pages, and Stockings Were Hung is in the forties.
J: Right, and I believe that some of our earlier works are – I think one is eleven pages.
Sarah: I mean!
J: They’re not – but you know what? You get in, you get out, you get the plot covered, and you get in and out in a couple of other ways and a couple of other holes, and then you’re good to go!
Sarah: I was just going to say, the in and the out are multilayered, even within that low page count.
Sarah: [Laughs] Thank you so much for doing this interview. This has been absolutely delightful. Where can people find you if you wish to be found?
J: So I am on Instagram and Twitter at the same handle; it is @JayElWrites, J-A-Y E-L Writes. I’m not going to…
J: …that one, ‘cause I think people can figure it out.
J: I’m way more active on Twitter because I’m not a big, like, visual poster for Instagram, but I do exist there.
Sarah: Right. Are you going to leave Twitter and go somewhere else, or are you just going down with the ship?
J: Oh, I’m going down with the ship.
Sarah: Yeah, that’s kind of where I am too. I was saying to another – I was interviewing KJ Charles the other day, and I was saying, You know, I got the idea to speak with KJ Charles because of something that she said on Twitter! And I realized I’m going to miss seeing what people are talking about book-wise so much, because that was really the only venue where that happened.
J: Yeah, I’m going to have to, like, if Twitter eventually just goes down, I’m going to have to completely recalibrate for dealing with Instagram, which is all image and video-based, mostly video-based now from the looks of things.
Sarah: And I don’t, I don’t want apps to make noise. Like, I get mad –
J: Oh –
Sarah: – when I open Instagram and it starts making noise and I start stabbing the screen like, No! Nonononono, no, no, no! I do words; I do not do talking. Which is, which is great for a podcaster.
Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this week’s episode. Thank you again to J for reaching out to me to talk about cover design in the indie community and all of the different ways you signal a particular genre. I mean, I know that this is true, but it’s so interesting to hear the behind-the-scenes.
I will have links to everything, as I said, in the show notes at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast.
Someone mentioned to me that I don’t do credits when I do an episode. That’s absolutely true, but that’s because all of the credits are, are me. I host, I edit, I produce; I do all the things. It’s just me and my cats, so I guess I should, you know, thank Katie and, and Wilbur for their help in snoring, which is a noise that I then have to remove from the audio file.
I end each episode with a terrible joke, and I would never leave you hanging. This joke comes from Malaraa in the podcast Discord which, as I have mentioned, is a truly delightful place. Are you ready? Australia, you’ll like this one a lot.
How did the vet steal the baby roo away from mama kangaroo for the exam?
They hired a pickpocket.
[Laughs] Many drop bears were angered by that joke. Thank you, Malaraa!
On behalf of everyone here, we wish you the very best of reading. Have a wonderful weekend, and we will see you back here next week.
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find outstanding shows to subscribe to, like this one, at frolic.media/podcasts.
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This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
Add Your Comment →
Fun interview, thank you! I liked the discussion of the monster clinch covers.
Thank you, Sarah and J, for that informative conversation!