Judging a book by its cover

I remember the day it it finally arrived . . . the cover for the Kindle version of Peak Season, the first in the CW McCoy series of crime novels. With its palm-tree sunset and police motif, the artwork reflected the setting and theme of the book—the fictional city of Spanish Point and the dilemma narrator CW (Candace) McCoy faces in her new life: how to live in peace while surrounded by violence.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00064]Here she is, working in a resort town in Florida, selling beach homes to the uber-rich, sailing with a former police commander and kayaking with a hunk who manages more money than the Philadelphia Mint. Paradise by most standards. If it weren’t so dangerous, she’d find the situation ironic.

That’s a lot to ask a designer to convey. Even more taxing is translating emotional nuance into something people can see.

I know, I’ve tried. Back when I made my living as an art director as well as a writer, I designed the cover and interior of my first published work of nonfiction, the Spirit of Swiftwater. It proved challenging but fun. I selected objects that embodied the theme, hired a terrific photographer (David Coulter), designed the cover in Quark and handed the whole thing to the printer.

Fast forward a dozen years to a technology that has outrun my ability to comprehend it. The applications are new and utterly complex. I tried designing a cover for Peak Season in Photoshop and cringed. Time to get professional help.

I found Rick Smith’s how-to book CreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass on Amazon and followed it to a site called Fiverr. There I found a person in Bulgaria who created a design that’s provocative, attractive and professional.

But it’s your opinion that counts. Can you judge a book by its cover? Has a cover ever made you want to read a book?