Friday, August 30, 2013

Fooling Around with Covers

New Cover
The upside of self-publishing is that one has complete creative control over the product. If one doesn't hire an editor or a proofreader, or engage a professional artist to design the cover, the product is all one's own. This has its advantages and disadvantages, as my old history teacher, Mrs. Wilcox, used to say. The downside is that one runs the risk of standing revealed in public as a complete horse's ass.

I flatter myself that my copy is pretty clean. Over the years I worked with one of the best copy editors in the business, now gone to the big publishing house in the sky. She taught me much. As for the plotting, well, I do the best I can, and I won't take advice from anybody anyway so it might as well go out the way it is. Hey, I'm an entertaining writer. But, the covers—!

Take MONKEYSTORM. (Please.) I designed what I thought was a killer cover for that book, replete with a picture of a raging monkey, although there were no actual monkeys in it, but only virtual monkeys appearing in a videogame. Harold liked the cover with its fierce monkey face; he said it would grab people's attention; I had to agree. But at a recent conference another writer took a gander at it and asked, "Is it horror?" Well, no, it's mostly supposed to be funny, though it's full of grisly murders and more or less pitched to a YA audience. Who haven't discovered it yet. Truth be told, I haven't sold very many copies to anybody at all.

Old Cover
Maybe the problem is the cover.

I'm taking another shot at that now. Behold the new cover (above). If that doesn't persuade anybody to buy it, my fall-back cover will have two thinly clad teenagers making out in a graveyard. I understand that this sort of thing is a big sales booster. FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY had only a nice silk cravat on the cover, as I recall, but they say the hot stuff was all on the inside.

What do you think of the new cover? Of book covers generally? Please advise.

Kate Gallison


  1. Kate, I am replying to your request, both as a potential reader and as a writer. The new cover has elegance and grace. I would pick it up and look at the first page... The other one has always scared the daylights out of me. I would not touch it. Truth be told, au fond, I am not one of those readers who go much, however, by covers. I know, however, by the end of page one whether I want to spend the $29.95 and a couple of rapt hours with the book. Best of luck with this one. tjs

    1. Thank you, Thelma! I'll take "elegance and grace" anytime. You'll be happy to know that the paperback from CreateSpace is only $8.99, though you might want to hold off on that for a few weeks, since it still has the scary cover:

      I still don't know how to suggest on the cover that the book is funny without making it look stupid. Looks like I need to do some research.

  2. Kate, I agree. The new cover is more attractive to me, but it does not say the book is funny. My books have the words "a Mystery" under the title. Perhaps a couple of words. Or a blurb on the cover could get that point across. I am so impressed that you can design covers as well as produce what's inside.

  3. Wellll, maybe you could put in parens under the title, " jes kiddin', folks ..."

  4. Yes! A blurb on the cover. "Side-splitting — Carl Hiassen"

  5. Kate, I like the original, but then a happy day for me is going to stare at and commune with the gorillas in the Bronx Zoo. Actually, he strikes me as more gorilla-like than monkey. I'd pick up Monkey Face before the Mausoleum cover, but then read at least 3 pages or all of Chapter One before
    making a buy (sound like a drug transaction?).

  6. I like the new cover, and can also say, "It's a howling good mystery."

  7. Kate, I wish you would bring back your series about the female preacher - what I read would be so timely in our world now! And I think you'd have a terrificly responsive readership. tjs