When you’ve looked at something for a very long time you can find it hard to see it for what it is. We do it every day, allowing the beauty of the world to pass us by, with our loved ones somehow fading into the background noise of daily distractions. We fail almost every time to see them in all their unique human spleandour.
So imagine how hard it is to look at a damn book cover for the ten-thousandth time and try to decide if it is hitting all the right notes with a person who has just laid eyes on it for the very first time, or, is it falling flat on its face. People say never judge a book by its cover and that’s really, really good advice if you’re being a metaphorical douche or you are an alien life form living on that one far away planet where books are not judged by their covers. But here, on Earth, books are definitely judged by their covers.
A person is drawn to a book by its attractive colour or its appealing or distinctive appearance. They will lift it and peruse the front. If the front cover does its job then the potential purchaser/prey will turn it over and possibly read some writing on the back. This is when the your writing flair will get its first real outing. If your book has made it this far you have already managed to achieve what top writers pay marketing companies mucho dinero to achieve. Congratulations, someone is officially checking out your rear.
So, now that they have clamped eyes on your sweet derriere, the next stage is a mixture of blood, sweat and tears and a bit of pure industry evil. Firstly, you can, optionally, have what is called a Logline. This is a one sentence description of your story. A teaser, a pitch, a hook etc. Yeh, I know. Why would anyone write a ninety-thousand-word book if they could have told the story in one sentence. Pure evil, I told you. Even if you don’t ever intend to design a cover you should have a logline. Give it a go. Endless hours of fun, and if you look in a mirror while you’re doing it you can actually see yourself going grey.
Below that is the mythical beast known as the perfect Back Cover Blurb, a nasty and elusive beast which is the El Dorado and the Holy Grail of writing hidden inside each other then tucked neatly behind the male G-spot of an angry polar bear. Better men than me have died trying to track it down; the blurb, not the G-spot. It’s the literary chimera that many have written about, but few have actually written.
So how’s mine? Dafuk would I know? That’s the whole point of this article. I’m blurb blind. Can’t see it. I may as well be reading a recipe for pea soup. Social media is full of aspiring novelists, whose key rule is Never be negative. Never allow anyone or anything to impinge on your positive outlook. Well I say wait till you try your first back cover blurb, kiddo. That’ll wipe that friggin cheesy grin off your pasty little face.
If the cover, back and front, has done its job, your potential customer/victim will now open the book. And, at that point, that’s it! Game over for your cover which has scored a whopping 100% and achieved everything you asked of it. You have gotten the person to look inside, at your work, the very crafted words from your soul. You better hope they pick an interesting page to read and not that crappy smooching scene you buried on page one-hundred and thirty. Don’t put anything crap on page 99, by the way. Apparently The Page 99 Test is a thing. Who knew? What am I saying? Don’t put anything crap on any page. Positive thoughts, baby.
So with that in mind, here’s my cover. Judge it. Judge me if you like. Judge my life. Judge my family and my parents and the manner in which they raised me. Judge the educational institutions I attended to produce a hopeful fool like me. Judge everything you can possibly judge, because if there’s one thing worse for an author than being judged for their cover, it’s being ignored for their cover.
Some of you might like it or hate it. Some of you won’t know enough about what goes into producing a cover to say if it’s a good cover or a mediocre cover or if this cover in fact sucks, blows, or bites the big one. Even those among you who have written books may never have taken the potentially expensive step to hire a graphic artist who will sit down and listen to your egocentric delusions about how you want the unicorns to appear as though they are jumping, and not flying over the burning dinosaur. No wings, you damn professional artist, that’s a Pterippus.
But I am lucky enough to know a very good Graphic Designer who patiently assisted me on my journey to achieve what I feel is, and will over time prove to be, a good, solid and market-worthy cover. Remember this: long after I’ve gone to that great big writing bureau in the sky, this cover will still be peeping out from dark and wonderful spaces anywhere in the four corners of the world. It gives me shivers down my spine when I think of that.
And that lovely B.R.A.G medallion came at the end of a lengthy adjudication process during which I thought I would be institutionalised at times waiting daily for an email to say if I could put the logo on my book and fill that beckoning empty space that haunted me nightly in my sleep. A big shout out to Robert and Teri at IndieBRAG Medallion Check them out if you are an Indie Writer getting ready to self-publish.
The quote from the Award-winning Irish Film director was easier to get as all I had to do was stalk him until I was in a position to get him into the boot of my car without being seen. No I didn’t do that, I’m only kidding, there were always too many people around.
Terry is a good guy. I made his acquaintance on social media then had the honour of being able to buy him and the gentleman Moe Dunford a pint of Guinness in the wee hours of the morning at the Galway Film Fleadh, though he may struggle to remember that because I know I do. He read my book and with the sincere generosity that comes with being a natural genius, he wrote those kind words about my book, and my balls too, for some reason. Thank you, Terry.
But oh, would you look at me, dropping names, la di da, it’s my friggin book I can do what I like.
So that’s what’s in a cover. Next time you’re in a book shop see if you can notice the order in which you appraise your next potential literary purchase. But more than anything else, make sure you go into a book shop from time to time, because if we lose those, we lose another spell of the purest magic. And we don’t have many of those left.