Tuesday, September 24, 2013


If ever you needed convincing that the cover of your ebook should not be a last-minute thing, the folks over at lousybookcovers.com have lots of evidence for you.

The old saw that says we shouldn't judge a book by its cover comes with an element of irony to it -- because we always judge things by their appearance. And if the appearance of the covers featured at this site -- which also offers some balm in lots of good advice on how to design at least an acceptable cover if you're not willing to pay a professional to do so -- books these days ought to be judged pretty harshly.

I'm lucky in that I know a handful of professional artists and designers who I can ask for advice when it comes to covers -- and I mean artists and designers who have gone to school for such and actually sold works of art and design, not just my auntie who happens to be pretty good with the watercolors.

I have taken a few stabs at creating my own book covers -- and I know my limitations. I have some good ideas, or so I've been told, but it's the execution that is sometimes lacking.

Still, some of these covers are just painful.

I don't understand it. Obviously, these people put a lot of work into their books. I know I do. I've got several I've written, but I'm realistic enough to know that, in their current state, none of them are ready for publication, and that's based on the words and story alone, not just the lack of an acceptable cover. But when I do have something close to ready, I'm not going to be satisfied with the mediocre or acceptable. I want something good -- because I expect nothing less out of the words and story I write.

Good books should have good covers. And it can be done. I look at Bob Brooks' "Tales from the Glades of Ballymore," where he found a professional illustrator to collaborate with. The drawings and story go so well together the book doesn't have that "I just whipped this out in fifteen minutes" feel. But there's the rub -- for many, the rush of getting the book done means an even more harried rush to get a cover done, even if it looks like, well, crap. Not going to be me.

Addendum: Read this today from Nathan Shumate, curator of lousybookcovers.com, and it seems very appropriate for anyone who wants to be a good writer:

"The writer-publisher with a stunningly bad book cover obviously has no one in his trusted circle who can turn a critical eye on prospective cover design and point out its deficiencies; it would be reasonable for us to assume, therefore, that said writer-publisher similarly has a blind spot in her regard for her own prose, and has no friends competent or willing to point out substandard storytelling."

Ouch. But it's the truth. Any writer who plunges forward without getting input and implementing it is just shooting himself or herself in the foot. With a bazooka.

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