Designing the Cover

So, I’m now deeply into the pre-publication design and proofing of Zendoscopy, my second book. It’s a sort of a coming of age story told in discrete episodes, chapters in the life of my protagonist. So, what should the book’s cover design be?

Early on, I submitted several possible designs to my publisher, including those below:

Zendoscopy Front Cover Zendoscopy Unusable Cover 1 Zendoscopy Unusable Cover


All were rejected. The bright, almost psychedelic covers were deemed too colorful for the standard mode of cover printing. The photograph was eliminated because it had nothing to do, really with the theme of the book. The graphic designers at Inkwater also hated the font I had used. All in all, they told me the designs I had submitted were, um, unprofessional. Personally, I thought they were kind of cool, but I did get the bit about the one with the photograph being irrelevant. Oh, and there was one more thing about the bright covers: I couldn’t get the rights to the psychedelic design. I sent multiple e-mails to the wallpaper & background site where I found the basic pattern, but never could get any response, even though I offered to pay for the design. Incidentally, the difference between the two is that I posterized the brighter one.

So, what to do? One of the graphic designers suggested that I look at covers of books published by MacMillan, Simon and Schuster, Hachette, et al., which I did. I hated them all, ending up seeing a lot of really dull covers. You can verify this yourself. Go to your local Barnes & Noble and check out book covers from major publishers. Dull, right?

A second graphic designer at Inkwater sent me some sample backgrounds she had located. I pretty much hated them, too. Dull to the point of awful. The pages with those designs, however, did have links to other designs, which I followed. Although not entirely happy with what I found, I did locate one design that was sort of acceptable to me and which met with approval at Inkwater. Their graphic designer went to work on it and, miracle of miracles, the cover looks pretty damn good. You’ll see it soon enough.

Interior design of the book is a much simpler matter. Words on a page, pretty standard font, a few design tweaks, and done.

In the final analysis, the job is to get books moving off the shelf, book-signing table, and internet. If looking “professional” is going to get the writing more seriously considered by book reviewers and acceptable to booksellers, then, with some regret, my attempts with psychedelia and photography have to be abandoned. Who knew?


Today’s Annoyance: The Dangling Phrase

“Running through the forest, the foliage became thicker.” So, foliage can run?

  “Screaming in pain, bystanders quickly came to his aid.”  Were the bystanders really in that much pain?

“Ducking under an awning for cover, the rain was coming down harder and harder.”  I didn’t know that rain could duck.


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