Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Lousy Book Cover Examination

I agonize over book covers.

I recently read a post from a writer that said that a writer needs to hire someone to design their book covers. That's all well and nice if you can afford to do it. In fact, if you can afford to do it I encourage you to do so.

But there are writers like me who simply can't, so we have to design our own. We take pictures, search for free images, download fonts, and play around with whatever programs we have on our computer, usually Microsoft Word or Open Office.

We do what we can with what we have. It does not mean that we don't care about our work. It means that we're poor.

So it's bound to happen that horror of horrors, there are bad book covers out there among the self-published.

It's also bound to happen that there's a website that posts those bad book covers.

And it's also bound to happen that the authors of those books get irate and scream copyright violation.

Which is stupid.

When you put out a book, you have to show the cover. The purpose of this is to encourage people to buy the book. You leave yourself open to bad reviews, and mocking. There is nothing you can do about this. In fact it might be argued that being on a website like Lousy Book Covers brings attention to your book, especially since the owner of the website links to your amazon account enabling people to buy the book. That is a good thing - even if your book cover is being mocked. It is certainly not a copyright violation to have someone post your book cover. You wouldn't complain if they gave you a rave review while they posted it, you can't then complain if it isn't the positive experience you want it to be.

I actually find the website Lousy Book Covers (note I linked to it twice) to be helpful. It's good to see the bad as well as the good. Now no one is saying these books themselves aren't good. There may be some gems there although some of the titles need help as well.

I am by no means a designer, but I liked looking at the covers and seeing what not to do. So I thought I would put up examples here and examine what went wrong. I am also linking to the amazon account so that you can buy the book if you so desire. I have no idea what the books are about and I'm not recommending them, but it's only fair that if I'm pointing out the book that there should be a link.

It was hard to choose, there were so many.

This is something like Finding Carmen Sandiego. Where's the title and the author? It's there, but you have to go on a search for it.

Okay this is from first grade where you cut out pictures from magazines and made a collage. Now there's nothing wrong with putting different images together, but it shouldn't look like a six year old did it. It actually looks a bit like a commercial for Good Year tires. I think it's Good Year tires. It's that tire guy who is made of tires. See they're really good for traveling in the Rockies in the winter.

Bad artwork. In fact it seems the majority of the bad book covers are done by the same three twelve year olds.

By the way, why is that guy feeling that girls breast? Even if that happens in the book (which I have no idea if it does) it's probably not a good idea to put it on the cover. And how come she has perfect posture while he's carrying her but she can't hold up her head? And is there a wind to make her hair blow that way?

Okay, so the actual cover isn't bad. The picture is pretty, the design is fine (hey that rhymes). It would make a nice cover for a Mother's Day book, or a poetry book, or inspirational quotes.

But this book is about an Al-Qaida bomber.


It kind of helps if the cover gives a hint of what's going on. Even if the cover is basic black and has no graphics that would be better than the mixed message here. Does the bomber write poetry about his mother?

Another 12 year old's art project.

From what I gather the cowboys and Indians who are flying the planes and sailing the ship are fighting over the frog having a nap on the surfboard.

And just to be sure we do know what book's genre is it's stated right on the cover. "An action-adventure, science-fiction, suspense, thriller, comedy, love story."

Which doesn't explain the frog. Seems to me that sunbathing surfing frogs who wear hats and carry canes belong in the fantasy/juvenile/fairy tale genre.

Is it possible that the frog is a cowboy frog or an Indian frog? In that case shouldn't it wear a cowboy hat, or a feather headband, or a Bollywood outfit (depending on what kind of Indian we're talking about here).

I am so confused.

It's obviously a cook book because they put food on the cover.

I always wanted a cook book that explained all about slicing tomatoes.

Doesn't this make you want to run out and buy it?

Every Christian needs a chainsaw.

I did not know that.

I had better hurry and get mine. I don't have one. I might be left out of heaven without it.

Who knew that the chainsaw massacre guy had it right all the time.

Now can we talk about the ugly colors.

Unlike the first example where you have to find the title, this author wants to be sure that you all know what the title of the book is. It's printed on the cover twice. And to make room for it, he had to squish up the pictures and make everyone misshapen. And to make sure it's all about witch hunts he repeated the phrase twice within the title. So that's four times the phrase "witch hunt" is used.

I guess this book is about a witch hunt.

I'm wondering if it's anything like my Witches Brew Ha-Ha, who are green witches with long noses.

What happened to his leg!

Did the dog bite it off?

Is it Texas' fault that this cowboy has no leg?

To be fair, the link will lead you to a cover that isn't quite so traumatizing.

So many fonts, so little time. I just can't decide which one I like best. I know! I'll try them all! And while I'm at it, I'll post the first chapter right on the cover!

I apologize for the lack of a link on this one. I think the author was so ashamed she went into hiding.

Can't say I blame her.

There's a gopher museum in Alberta where they dress up stuffed gophers and pose them in various positions. Weddings, funerals, golf tournaments, rock bands. This particular one is part of the southern belle series where Lincoln was president and living in a tree and slaves were tanned white male models.

I certainly hope my book covers are better.

Monday, February 4, 2013


My writer friend Jenn Quist wrote a post on super powers. It's wonderful and introspective and incredibly smart. You can find it HERE. Jenn is about to join the club of traditionally published authors. I have no idea what her book is about, but I have read her work and she is talented. Her post made me want to write something about super powers but mine won't be so smart. Not a science reference involved.

A few years ago I was playing a board game with Son One and Son Two. Of course the topic of super powers came up. I don't remember what they said although I think one of them put invisibility on their list. Frankly I don't see much use for it unless you want to sneak into a movie or listen to what other people say about you when you're not around. Although why you would want to do that I have no idea. Either you'll hear things you don't want to hear, or no one will say anything about you because you really aren't all that important.

Anyway, I said I wanted to fly - duh, who wouldn't other than people with height fears which is not my problem. And I said I wanted to time travel.

Son One said, "You can't have time travel because then you would go back to your teenage self and warn you not to marry that guy and then I wouldn't be as good looking as I am."

Yeah, as if his good looks only came from his dad and I wouldn't have been able to find another good looking man.

I've also decided since then that I want to be a shape shifter. Then I could be slim and gorgeous forever. Well, maybe not forever but for as long as I could shape shift. I have no interest in shifting into animal form, but if I could make myself magically lose weight, wrinkles and pimples, then why not? Other people can change their clothes and hair, I could change my entire body. I realize that's not a very feminist standpoint, and it would make it hard for my friends to recognize me - on the other hand it would make it easy to hide from my children - but I don't care if it's not politically correct. I'm not much for political correctness anyway; it shifts too much.

I would also like to be able to wiggle my nose and have things instantly done, like Samantha on Bewitched, which I realize many people no longer know who that is. She was a TV witch who could wiggle her nose and her house would be instantly clean but she was married to a control freak dictator who didn't want her to be all she could be and insisted that she clean house the regular way. I guess he just couldn't handle that there were some things she could do better than him, including his job. She was the one that came up with all the ad campaigns while he took the credit. Anyway, I wouldn't use a power like that all the time. I like doing some things, but cleaning is not one of them, so poof, my house would always be immaculate and I would have a beautiful garden because I love beautiful gardens but hate gardening and kill everything anyway. We would have some pretty amazing meals too.

So what would your super powers be?

Update on Thimble Fingers. It's free at the moment but that free is about to run out any second. It's had over 2000 downloads and is in the top 200 of Free Kindle Downloads. It's number 7 in humor and number 8 in women's fiction. Which is pretty amazing since it's only been up for a few days, has only two reviews (both 5 star) and is from an unknown writer.

Now I realize those numbers probably won't mean much until it goes back to being something people pay for. And once it goes back to being for sale those rankings will drop off into oblivion. Then it will really matter if people want to buy the book. Still, I'm going to focus on the positive right now.

To get a copy go to Amazon. You don't have to have a kindle to download or read it. You can read it on your computer or another device - as long as it's not another ereader. And write a review. You don't have to use words and phrases like - "split my gut laughing", "so heartwarming it made me cry" "outstanding" "should be on the best sellers list" and "absolutely the funniest thing since the Gilmore Girls" but you are more than welcome to use any of those phrases if you get stuck.