Covers are tough. As if it’s not hard enough to simply write a book, then you have to wrap it up in some attractive artwork to draw readers in. (And forget marketing, which is more mysterious than the Bermuda Triangle.) I’ve handed the job off to people much more artistic than me, and as a result I’ve been happy with the covers of my books. The first one came together real nice with some Durham Bulls elements that fit perfectly for the story and setting. The second one doesn’t seem to have pulled in as many readers as I thought it might, but I still love the little ‘roided out bobblehead. And the new one, well, I was going for a certain type and feel with this one to give the reader an inkling straight off that it’s smack in that contemporary/literary vein. (And, yeah, “contemporary” to many readers seems to equal “contemporary romance,” but it shouldn’t, so there.) I studied a lot of covers of books I like in the sweet spot I was aiming for, and described it as best I could to the company I hired to design it. And after a few tweaks of font and color, they gave me something I was really pleased with.
A lot of my cover research was done on Joel Friedlander’s site, The Book Designer. Every month he invites authors and designers to submit covers for critique. There are usually well over a hundred of them, and reading through his comments is educational if not entertaining. So shortly after I released Sorry I Wasn’t What You Needed in May, I submitted a jpg of the cover. When the cover design awards were announced last month I scrolled through, looking for mine, hoping for a kind word … and it wasn’t included. I don’t know what happened when I submitted it, but apparently it didn’t go through. So I submitted it again, and this time even got a confirmation email.
And this month my cover was there. Not just there, but it earned a Gold-Star (as one of a handful of runners-up, which out of 114 fiction covers is no small feat), along with the feedback, “A beautifully effective example of design that unifies the story and the artwork and the words into one whole that really communicates.” I’ll take that as a high compliment, because, a) it’s the best critique I’ve received there of the three (the other two got kind words, but no Gold-Stars), and b) the dude knows cover design. And as a Gold-Star recipient, I get to go to Starbucks and pay regular price for anything on the menu. I also get to display the nifty cover design badge. So I’m displaying it. Proudly.