Do you judge a book by its cover?

HermitOfCarmel_foggy copyHermit of Carmel is done. Well, kind of. Truth is, I changed the ending a little just last week – after I swore that it was “ready to ship.” Really, it’s the hardest part of writing a novel: knowing when to stop. But, it’s my prerogative and one of the benefits of managing the publishing process yourself. I can do any damn thing I want. In the interim, I contracted the book cover design (front, back, spline) and interior layout/typesetting to a professional designer: Laura is based in Toronto and has been great to work with. Ours is a collaboration limited only by budget and imagination. She employs what I assume is a consistent process – to understand the book’s themes, characters, and audience demographic – before she prepares some draft ideas. Really, I hoped she might have read the book but, after consideration, agreed that it would be unreasonable to ask a designer to read every book he/she might work on. Laura also asked me to identify other book covers that I really appreciated, so she’d have an insight into my personal design sense. That was a ton of fun in itself. There’s some great cover art out there. It’s a creative genre unto itself.

Simplicity. That was my stated objective, in the context of design. The simple, underlying theme(s) of Hermit – love, loss, grief and golf – should, I felt, guide the design aesthetic. Laura came back with four initial designs, all of which proved interesting. One caught my attention immediately. After some agonizing, consultation with family, and some feedback to Laura, we made some design revisions and zeroed in on a final version.

For new writers who are self-publishing, or are collaborating with a design team at a publishing house, this can be both an enjoyable part of the process to get a book to market, and a welcome distraction from all the angst you’re likely experiencing with final copy editing, reviewing proofs, etc. And, if what they say is true – a cover really does sell a book – you could argue this might be the most important element of marketing fiction. Of course, design is subjective, and not everyone in your target audience will appreciate the cover art. No matter. I need to like it.

In a week or so, I anticipate we’ll get to final art – including front and back cover, with leading line, book description, an area to convey social media contacts, price and ISBN. Right now, we’re debating color and tone of the cover image. I’m including the draft version with a slight bluish tone, as an example.

Stay with me. Hermit will hit the streets by January. Too late for the coveted Christmas season, I’m afraid – but better late than never. Here’s hoping the cover is judged kindly, and the words inside live up to expectations.

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