Creating a compelling book cover that not only presents the book’s title in an interesting way, but also conveys at a glance the contents of the book has been a collaborative process that has involved people living in multiple states and two continents. Several covers that I have designed for my previous titles illustrate the book’s content using photographic elements. The best example that I have designed is Backyard Deer Hunting: From Deer to Dinner for Pennies per Pound.
For Backyard Deer I purchased a photo of an urban deer taken in a person’s back yard, cooked the dishes on the table and photographed the result. The combination of the two photos and the down-pointing arrows completed the imagery and visually told what the book was all about. In it I describe methods for inexpensively hunting deer, even in urban areas with archery equipment, getting it ready for freezer and conclude with recipes that anyone who can turn on a stove can cook. Using my concept the print-on-demand publisher Author House completed the cover.
I had a larger format to work with when I published X-Treme Muzzleloading. Instead of being a 6X9-inch book this was 9X12-size. The book concept was to republished stories about my muzzleloading hunts in North America, Europe and Africa where I often pushed the limits of muzzleloading technology. The use of X-Treme in the title allowed me to shortening the title and provided the concept of using some of my photos in quadrants of the “X” on the cover. An alternative would have been to do a checkerboard type of cover using many more images, but these would have become so small as to not be readily identifiable when reduced to thumbnail size. The alligator, swan, bison and Cape buffalo photos amply demonstrated that I had done more with my muzzleloading guns that hunt deer.
The cover concepts for Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife, started off with a cartoon-like drawing showing a large open mouth with tonsils and teeth from which the printed words “You’re fired,” emerged. This concept amused me, but professional book consultants informed me that it would not be well received by bookstore buyers or by individuals who might have recently gone through such a traumatic experience.
I had taken a good photo at dawn from my New York City hotel room on the 23rd floor of the Steward Hotel where I had an exterior balcony. I have seen many business books with buildings on the cover and thought that this might be a possible shot. However, the image was very dark and I, with some help from one of my Quantum Leap correspondents, did a better job of enhancing the color pallet to make a more striking image. I shopped this around as a potential cover, but mostly got an “O hum” response. This translated into, “Yes you could use it, but it is not particularly original or appealing.”
I am no artist, but I did a sketch showing an older man standing on a loading dock with a shield fending off a series of arrows labeled with words related to the current employment climate like “downsized” and “redundant.” On my drawing I showed a large knife on the man’s belt, a pallet in front of him with boxes labeled “ship today,” and multiple arrows coming at him. When this went through the review process, I was informed that there were too many elements, and that simpler was better. I posted the drawing on Fiverr and received 15 responses from people who said that they could do the cover. The one I selected had a drawing to represent her, and it appeared that she would have the skills to produce the cover.
This turned out to be a much worse experience that I had expected. Although my illustrator ultimately produced a usable result, it did not include a better rendition of my sketch, as I requested; but a photo image of me that I took thinking that she just wanted a model from which to make her drawing. Instead she used Photoshop to produce an image. Various elements had to be corrected such as her misspelling my name as Wm. Hovey Smitt, and it took four tries for her to get my name on the spine of the book. Although the cover I accepted was not altogether my concept, I could see that it might be made to work if all of the elements I needed in the cover could be incorporated in a usable manner. She did/does have excellent skills with managing images, changing out colors, even though she apparently could not draw and seemed to have real difficulty in understanding my instructions.
If you are going to create a cover for your book, I think that it should look like no other in that category. That is difficult. Whatever might be said of my cover it is different. It does carry the title and the necessary other information. The downsides are it is “messy” with a lot of elements that seem extraneous, such as the rock wall. My image is also not as sharp as it might have been had I known it was going to be used this way. The golden shield is interesting, a visual focal point and draws attention away from the title. It could also be said that the non-uniform golden background is meaningless to most viewers. My dress certainly does not look like an authority figure for a business book. The fact that an identifiable male figure is shown might turn off some women buyers, and it is women who purchase most books.
With all the foregoing being acknowledged, I like the fact that the figure is both male and not readily identifiable as being any particular individual. I was trying for an “every man” image here, rather than a Wall Street tycoon. This is a man defending himself against an onslaught of potentially adverse events by shielding himself by starting his own business. The rolled-up shirt sleeves and defiant stance indicates that he is ready to fight and do battle to defend his, and his family’s future. It will take hard work, and he is ready to do it.
I fully acknowledge that there are women in the workplace, and they have their own issues. I do not feel that it is desirable to make every thing written so sex neutral so as to lose impact or meaning. Men and women do see and experience things differently. While much in my book is applicable to both men and women, it is slanted towards men mainly because I write from my experiences, and I am a guy. There is a need for a similar book for women that speaks particularly of the challenges faced by women as both workers and managers. Some of the chapters in the present book could be used, but new chapters would need to be written covering things like managing work and child bearing and rearing; divorce, remarriage and reconnecting; privacy issues; pay differentials; workplace discrimination; and sexual harassment that have no place in the present book. These issues need to be addressed separately in a follow-up book that might be co-authored by a women who has gone through these experiences. If there is such out there, please contact me. Similarly, there needs to be another follow-up title written for teens and 20-somethings co-written with someone who has gone through their particular set of experiences. I am actively seeking co-authors for both titles.
The book manuscript is in the hands of a designer-editor that I have known for more than a decade who will handle the details about getting the softcover published with Amazon’s Create Space. I will publish the E-book version sometimes later with Book Baby, so that I have some representation of the title available throughout the world.
I used my Profit imprint on the spine, which is my U.S. registered trademark. It is rendered in Algerian Font in gold. This will be used to identify all of my business-related titles and has already been used in conjunction with my previous booklet, Ideas for New Businesses: Finding Ideas for Starting Your Million or Billion Dollar Business.” This book was published in 2015, and many of the ideas expressed in it were incorporated as a chapter in Create You Own Job Security.
Advanced copies Create Your Own Job Security may now be ordered using the PayPal button below:
Create Your Own Job Security
Generally available for special promotion price of $10.99.
Ideas for New Businesses
This booklet is designed to be used to help you develop and record business concepts in a physical form as you travel to Europe, Asia and Africa.
As a promotional offer I will send anyone who request it an E-mailed copy of the Table of Contents, Preface and Chapter 17 which is Love Your Work and Live Longer.
I will also do a free 15-minute consultation on business matters. Please state what you want to discuss when you contact me below.