Ebook Covers – First Attempt Aftermath

Support: a verb meaning to give assistance, comfort, emotional help, approve of and encourage.

Group: a noun meaning a number of people who work together or share certain beliefs.

Writers’ support group: the people who seem to delight in pouncing with the fervor of Attila the Hun on any little thing another writer does that they find lacking. 🙂

Seriously, writers band together a lot, probably because we all share with Ernest Hemingway the opinion that writing is really easy. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter (computer), open up a vein, and bleed.

My previous post on the subject of ebook covers drew the attention of some fellow writers like buzzards to road kill. Benevolent buzzards, that is, ones who will gather around a carcass with good intentions. To say that their scrutiny is (and will be) helpful is a gross understatement. Here are some lessons learned by this flattened wannabe published novelist:

  • The title goes “above the fold” with the author’s name below for any writer who has not established a reputation and “brand” that can sell a novel regardless of the title.
  • Any variation in font size should emphasize the title rather than the author’s name.
  • The cover image must not create any confusion in a potential reader’s mind about what they are looking at. No “huh?” factor. In retrospect, I’d been working with the image for hours and had in mind what I wanted it to do. An instrument panel in an airplane has defined my private and professional world since 1964. The potential for a first-time, non-aviator viewer to interpret the cover as a reflection never occurred to me. I saw it as looking through the panel as a kind of ghostly veneer over the very real hazard just beyond, and I didn’t recognize the effect of extensive personal experience on my perceptions.
  • The choice of something so apparently simple (to the novice “designer”) as the font size and color and placement on the image is only a tiny part of what graphic artists and marketing folks spend years learning through education and practical experience.
  • On a personal note, I have to admit the effect of what I call “the expert syndrome.” In aviation, it refers to the very dangerous phenomenon of a person who has achieved professional success in something other than piloting who thinks, “How hard can it be?” In this case, of course, I suffer from the reverse. “I’ve flown everything from jet fighters in combat to commercial airliners to executive jets to little aerobatic machines. Graphic design? Piece of cake.” It’s not that bad, of course, but I’m sure you get the point.
  • Using this blog to share with others my adventures in writing also has the potential for laying minefields. I never thought about this particular one, which is that any cover image shared with the world through the Internet lasts forever. Here’s the way Deanna Roy cautioned me:  “I would not post any more covers publicly. It seems like a fun exercise, but make absolutely sure that when you have a final cover you go back and put it in this post as well. You don’t need confusion about what the cover looks like later, when people Google and land on this direct post without seeing the newer ones, and you don’t want to look amateur once you’ve got a good cover.” Point very well taken.
  • And speaking of support, Cindy Stone has offered her professional marketing expertise to show me how to explore my concept for a cover image.

So you see, we writers do band together for something other than slice-and-dice autopsies (roundtable critiques) and vulture gatherings. It’s one of the truly enjoyable aspects of being a part of a community dedicated to learning this craft and everything peripheral that goes with it.

I’ve experienced this community spirit in personal interaction with other writers at workshops, conventions, in two local writers’ groups, and in the decidedly impersonal and generally anonymous online environments like QueryTracker, where smart, knowledgeable strangers are willing to donate their time and energy to help others craft an effective query letter.

And when the rejections pour in, they are standing right there with accounts of their own failures and word of encouragement to stay the course. “Been there, done that” provides credibility and is a key ingredient of the glue that binds writers together.

This writer loves everything about it.

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