♫ The Cover Is The Hardest Part ♫

As it turns out, that’s completely and totally true. I should start out by apologizing for any and all redundancies and bursts of enthusiasm in this post. I’m fresh from a NaNoWriMo win, made sweeter by the fact that I didn’t actually start writing until November 15th. Also made sweeter by the fact that I started the process of finding a cover for The Fishing Widow. So, here’s my story, and I’m sticking with it ….

It took three years to write The Fishing Widow. I’m counting from the moment Colin Claybaugh snuck up behind me while I was doing dishes (and I turned and took a swing with a frying pan at this unknown, disembodied voice…it’s a good thing he ducked) saying, “I hear you’re good at writing down stories.” through to the final edit. I’m pretty sure there were no fewer than fifteen edits of the book; along with endings, and alternate endings, and fist-fights about the ending, and, at last, THE ENDing. If you write, you’re nodding sagely at that last statement. Yes. It’s a struggle. It’s a struggle even when you’re dealing with forthcoming characters who want to tell you everything. Not that that’s any good, either, because then you’re staring at a reams-long tome wondering what in the world to cut out. No one needs that much detail….

See? I’ll blame NaNoWriMo because I’m slightly rambling, but only to make a point. Three years of my life and more than two-thirds of my sanity have gone into The Fishing Widow. I’m ready to put it out there. And then, there’s the whole putting it out there. As writers, let’s face it–it doesn’t matter how long we’ve delved into something, it doesn’t matter if we have cracklingly real characters, believable dialog, compelling stories, horror, triumph, a catastrophic bettering of the human condition, and that attainment of catharsis that our high school English teachers told us we had to attain in our writing or Dante would be waiting for us in the bowels of somewhere down there in the hot spot, without a decent, eye-catching, soul-gripping, I-need-to-read-this-lest-I-die cover, your book is not going to stand out on the shelf amid the others vying for attention. To that end, I’ll add this: I know graphic design and I am no graphic designer. So, while trolling Facebook, I came across a publisher (Permuted Press) who was looking for feedback for a book cover design contest at this website called 99 Designs. Really? Book cover contest? I just had to look….

Then, I was hooked. While this isn’t an advertising blitz for 99 Designs, I’ll just say that I put up a contest, 55 designers submitted 180 possible covers based on a detailed design brief that I submitted and I worked with a number of them through a feedback process to whittle it down to 6 designers. Now, there are eight possible designs on the block–each one a bit different, each one with a different feel, but all of them by designers who are wildly talented and even better, responsive to feedback. Huh. I guess this is a bit of an advert for 99 Designs ….

But, back to the contest. There’s this poll. It lives here: https://99designs.com/book-cover-design/vote-h7sika And, I’m using this as a forum to solicit feedback from YOU. When I wrote the original design brief, I asked for a cover that would make people yank the book from the shelf and open it. So, I now ask you, looking at these designs, if you were standing in a bookstore surrounded by more compelling graphic design than one person could bear, which one would stand out? If you were strolling the Lido Deck (they all have “Lido Decks,” right?) of a cruise ship and noticed a book in someone’s hand, what cover would catch your eye and make you think, “Wow, I should so totally read that.” ?? I know, asking a lot, but if it’s not compelling enough to pick up, if it doesn’t draw your eye, you’ll never open it to read the flap (which reminds me, I’ve got to write that bit, too), or thumb through the pages.

And then you’d never meet Ethan.

Or Colin.

Or Brett.

Or St. John.

Or Elizabeth.

And that would make me sad, ’cause trust me. You’d love ’em…..

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