When Was the Last Time an Author Graced the Cover of a Novel? Probably never.

There’s a reason why novelists don’t put their photos on the cover of their books the same way the latest hip-hop stars pose on theirs.

Let’s face it: novelists hide in dark quiet corners, hunched over a screen, tapping out nerdy words for hours on end. Novelists have disheveled hair, four-eyed faces, pale skin,  rounded-waistlines and a host of other descriptions never seen on the cover of Vogue without spending hours in the Photoshop chop-shop. Novelists don’t spend a lot of time at the gym, but you might find them sitting for hours under a tree, looking at the pattern of ant columns while waiting for the perfect murder clue to make itself obvious so it can be plopped into the latest plot. (How can that ant carry that leaf on its back? Ah-ha! New superhero idea!) Novelists create words of grittiness and glamour, of fantastical realms and hard-truth real-life. They wipe away image and pretentiousness to delve into the heart of the matter–the uncovered motive, the sheer nakedness of belief which leads to any manner of sordid tales. Novelists eat too much, sleep too little, drink too much, exercise too little. (Unless you’re referring to exercising their brain. They would be Olympic champs if that was a sport.)

So is it any wonder that novelists don’t grace the cover of their books. How many people would buy a book with a pale, bespectacled visage sitting on a bench under a tree?  (I’m sure we’d have a goofy smile on our face, too!)

Novelists are meant for small, blurry mug-shots on the back cover of their paperbacks. Nothing more.

Pop stars, however, were made for album covers. Literally. Photoshopped faces and slim bodies with parts hanging out all over are the requisite requirement of album covers. Image is king.

But isn’t image king for novels, too?

Absolutely! And that’s why authors don’t grace the cover!

Unless, that is, if it’s a non-fictional title and the personality, not the story, is driving the sales. That’s when the celebrity chefs and TV personalities plop their images on the cover of their books and ride to the top-sellers list based on their other profession.

But for the novelist, who would dare think that their coffee-fueled or hungover eyes would ever elicit a sale?

 

So keep looking for those stock images, authors. We’re destined for the back cover or the obscure blog post.

And you know what? That’s just fine with me.

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A Cover for My New Play

I’m very close to publishing my new play, “The Secrets of the Magic Pool.” As I’m whittling down the script, whipping it into shape for my script workshop this weekend, I realized I needed to start putting together a cover for the play. mm

Play covers tend to be simple, and I didn’t want to go all out with this one, so I decided to go ahead and design it myself. I first thought of a blank cover. I’ve seen plenty of plays which have standard boring covers. But I wanted to have some sort of image on the cover. As I was walking to my classroom today, I saw this tree, which I pass daily, and I decided to take a photo of it with my phone.

2015-10-12 14.28.28

Then I plopped it in photoshop and it came out as this.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00034]

 

 

Not bad. Simple, just the way I like it.  I played around with it some more and I put a design underneath which actually looks better when seeing the full front and back layout.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00034]

But I got a cover, I have a script, and it will soon be workshop tested. Based on what comes out of that, I’ll be publishing my first, full-length play in about 4 years.

There are Book Covers in a Library

I was sitting in the library with young artist Joyce Lee. She has been tasked with creating the cover artwork and design for my next novel The Recluse Storyteller. I had given her five different images to work with even though it was clear in my mind which one would be on the cover. When she showed me the mock-up of my first image, I thought that it was OK, but I knew right there and then that I didn’t want that to be the cover of my book. It just didn’t feel right – perhaps a little boring – at no fault of the artist – she did what I asked her to do.

Then she showed me a second mock-up from another image. I liked it a lot. It was this crazy picture of a person looking over a balcony with a man lying knocked out on the pavement below. Definitely an interesting image and I could see that being the cover of the book.

But then she flashed the third image on the screen, and it was obviously the right one. The design was so simple, yet had such a strong focal point that just drew me in. I asked a couple other people in the library which they thought was the most stunning. It was unanimous. I have my cover, and I’m very excited about it. Now she is working on fonts and layout.

When we started talking about the back cover for the print version, we mentioned how we would like to see what others have done to tie in the front and back covers of their books. I immediately did a Google search trying to find book cover layouts, when all of the sudden it hit me.

“We are in a library!”

Sometimes things are so obvious that you become oblivious to them.

And so here is the earth-shattering item I was reminded of today: There are book covers in a library.