“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” They say (whoever “they” are).
Well, turns out we do it all the time.
As a result, choosing the cover for my book is a critical part of the process.
Turns out many folks will not even pick up the book if the cover doesn’t jump out at them and call, “Pick me; pick me.”
I thought it’d be fun to reminisce a bit with you on my process for choosing the cover for my book,
At Home on the Kazakh Steppe.
And, at the end, I’ll let you tell me which one(s) jump out at you, pleading, “choose me; choose me!”
From the start, I was clear I wanted to use the colors of the Kazakhstani flag.
The bright blue is so reminiscent of the ever-blue sky over head. You can tell they love their bright sun and sky.
My website designer, Anne McKinsey, had put together an initial “coming soon” page back when we first began creating my website. While I wound up going with another color combination, I loved how the colors of that site jumped out at me, saying “Here I am.” I thought that would be a good place to start.
So, I went back to Anne, learned she’d love to design my book cover, and fed her some of my photos so she could get to work. Here are the initial evolutions:
I loved each one of these, but for very different reasons. And, when I posted them to one of my Facebook Groups, I got immediate and very helpful feedback.
Still, something felt missing.
So, Anne suggested we do a “photo” display, something like a collection of polaroids, each telling a story. Here is the next batch:
Let’s call these A, B, and C.
C, by the way, shows the full cover, back as well as front.
Each front cover features four or five photos, a single background photo, and a photo of the steppe on the bottom, in yellow. Each one has the same font (an earlier decision) and the subtitle is now at the bottom, as almost an after thought (as it should be). This is NOT a typical Peace Corps memoir (I hope). I feared for awhile it would be prematurely judged as such.
A, has four small photographs, while B and C both have five. One of the small photos in C is different from the set in B. Does this matter to you? If so, what is your preference?
This is beginning to resemble those “find the animals” games that I once shared with my grandchildren! A massive jungle and hidden among the foliage are a dozen or so lions and tigers and bears — oh my!
Oops, I got a little distracted.
The background pictures are different, too. Do you see them? Do you care?
So many other choices, too:
- How many photos (the fewer the photos, the larger they can be)
- What kind of photos (landscapes or faces; bleak or scenic; distant or up close?)
- Do we scatter them or set them in a straight line?
My head began to spin.
Then I learned about noise!
Yes, Noise. Like we once had on our TV screens. Remember? (if you are under 35, you probably don’t).
Turns out we can either have noise, or go with “no noise.”
Two of the photos above have noise; one does not. FYI
UPDATE: We’ve got it down to two! This one is called 5D.
And this one, 9D, which gives a hint as to how many iterations Anne and I have gone through. To coin an old George Burns phrase, “choosing a book cover is not for sissies.”
So, if we DO judge a book by its cover, and (as we all know) a picture is worth a thousand words, (What other cliches am I missing?) these become important questions.
In case you want a clearer view of the earlier snapshots, I’ll be adding the original photos to the slide show on my website’s AT HOME ON THE KAZAKH STEPPE page. Pop on over and take a look.
What do you think?
I hope you’ll weigh in here with your thoughts.
(And, really, thanks for sharing a little of my OCD-ish-ness this week! Sharing does indeed lighten the load).