I received a comment recently noting that nothing had been added to this website in over a year and asking where I was. I hate to admit it, but I had no idea it had been that long. Reasons abound, all of which can be summarized with the simple fact that there’s never enough time in the day to focus my intention on everything I’ve committed to doing. This post, therefore, will serve to illustrate only one of the reasons why these pages have been sitting idle for so long.
As always, I can’t resist the compelling urge to begin with backstory, which in this particular case rewinds to the spring of 2011 and my decision to abandon all attempts to get an agent and legacy-publish my debut novel Pilot Error. Being frugal by nature, and with more time on my hands than spare cash, I decided not to pay someone to perform all the tasks necessary to indie-publish my books.
For the next six months, I immersed myself in the maze of details about book production, and through a lot more error than trial I created the covers and formatted the interiors for eBook and print editions of the novel. Following that, I did the same for two short non-fiction books, both intended to be the initial entries in a series.
But in a moment that can be described by the proverbial “Something happened on the way to . . .,” I discovered an intense interest in the concept described by Dean Wesley Smith in offering advice to indie authors, that you have to Think Like a Publisher. And while I intended to do it all, learning about marketing and promotion remains an elusive goal as I’ve become more involved in book production. Along with the second novel in the Pilot Error series, I’ve designed the covers and formatted the interiors for five novels and currently have four others in various stages of production.
Cover design sits at the top of the production task list primarily because it’s the single most important factor in a three-step sequence leading to a reader buying a book. As the saying goes, you can’t tell a book by its cover, but you will have a hard time attracting potential buyers if you don’t have a good one.
As author/blogger Barry Eisler describes in his two-part posting on book packaging, title and cover design have to work together to grab a shopper’s attention. He uses an example from his own stable of books by pointing out how poorly his US publisher (at the time) accomplished that with his debut novel compared to the Japanese edition. The comparison is stunning.
In a brick-and-mortar or online bookstore, covers are like billboards. They have to create a “call to action” moment in the viewer, which in this case means, Read the back cover copy/description. If those relatively few words do their job, reading the first page or two of the novel has the opportunity to seal the deal with a sale.
I make no claim to being a professionally trained graphic designer, and I’m more than positive that anyone who is can find fault with the covers I’ve done. But with all due respect, to do its only job, a cover doesn’t have to impress someone with detailed knowledge of the principles of graphic design.
Would I be proud to receive kudos from a professional? Of course. But in the final analysis, it matters not so long as my covers don’t stand in the way of a potential book buyer reaching out with the thought, “What’s this book about?”
But you can judge for yourself as to the effectiveness of my amateur efforts by taking a look at the following examples:
Note: The original cover for the eBook edition of Don’t Tell Me was designed by a friend of the author’s daughter. I had to make some changes to it and incorporate the new version into a wraparound cover for the paperback edition. Both front and back covers are shown below.
The first version of the girl from Long Guyland by Lara Reznik
The second version of the girl from Long Guyland
The M&M Boys by Lara Reznik
Hijacked Hitman by Ron Robertson
Don’t Tell Me by Ray Fuentez (front)
Don’t Tell Me by Ray Fuentez (rear)
Lip Hooked by Chris Gardner (RIP)
Standby for publication of the following novels with my cover and interior designs:
- Compromise with Sin by Leanna Englert
- Bagels and Salsa by Lara Reznik
- Geronimo’s Bones by Darrell Bryant
- A Promise of Water by Sharon Scarborough
None of the above excuses my prolonged absence from this website. It only provides one of the reasons, and thanks to a comment by a visitor named Mamie, I hope to redirect my attention to an effort too long ignored.