Wordless Wednesday: Judging by the Cover

I’ve never understood the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Because that’s exactly what we do. Whether books or people, despite admonitions otherwise, we make decisions based on appearance. In my journey as both a commercially  published author, I’ve had covers I’ve loved and others I winced at proof copies (crossing my fingers for the reprint). Being an indie or self published writer, however, means from start to finish I have the creative control (and responsibility) of creating a compelling story with an enticing cover to match.

Jamie WinderThe Internet is a jungle and as an indie you have to go through trial and error when deciding which editors or designers you would like to work with. How do you find good people? Ask for referrals and also look at samples of their work. This is how I found Jamie Winder, my go-to designer for my top eBook titles.

Jamie  is a freelance graphic designer, occasional print-maker and co-author of the forthcoming book Where You Going? Design Adventures in Southeast Asia. Having worked commercially across both print and digital, he often undertakes self-initiated projects to learn new things and remain enthusiastic. These have led to font design, illustration, screen printing and, ultimately, to Southeast Asia.

He’s done two of my titles, From Dunes to Dior and my latest release The Dohmestics. they’re invariably the ones readers love the most. Let me know if you have your own questions for Jamie.

How would you describe your design philosophy? Form follows function.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?

I’m currently exploring Southeast Asia with Bangkok as my base, so I’m not thinking about settling any one place for now. That said, I’m intrigued by Taipei, and am attracted to the quality of life and rich design scene in Melbourne… but I’ll probably end up back in London some day!


Did you have support at the beginning of your decision to be in the creative industry? FromDunesToDior

I always assumed I’d be in the creative industry, so really there was no decision. I took a foundation course in art & design after my A-levels to help determine which area I’d pursue—over a year you get to try out everything from fine art to fashion, new media to print making—and it was my fashion tutor that pointed out to me that all work I was creating in her class was actually graphic design.


What’s your creative process?

The best ideas seem to come when I’m not thinking about a project, so the process often starts first thing when I’m not fully awake, or in the shower… unexpected times and places. From there I’ll sketch things out with a pen (very roughly, my notebook is no work of art), try a few variations of the concept and then get my laptop out to put it all together.


Do you design on a laptop or in a studio?

My laptop is indispensable, it allows me to travel and stay on top of my workload wherever I am.


Do you have a day job?

No, but being a freelance designer is often a day job + night shift rolled into one!


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Reader Comments

  1. Linda Tuck-Jenkins aka Mary Clay

    Sadly, people do judge a book by its cover. I’ve had my own small publishing company since 2000. I don’t consider myself a part of the pejorative “self-published” or new term “Indie” because I’ve been in business for over a decade and have jumped through all of the hoops the NY publishers do. Yep, I have my own company, block of ISBNs, my books were traditionally printed (at one point w/ 5 books in print I had an inventory of over 10,000.)

    I overcame more obstacles than today’s small publisher can imagine, and I attribute much of it to good reviews, of course, but GOOD COVERS! I paid $1,000-$1,500 for each cover. I also had the graphic artist produce professional promo flyers, postcards, bookmarks, etc. I believe it was well worth it. Back in the day (early 2000s) when books had to be approved by Barnes & Noble’s Small Press Dept., all of mine books were approved. When Ingram adopted a 10 book minimum for small publishers, my DAFFODILS® Mysteries (4) were accepted for inclusion in Ingram’s database by a juried panel of Ingram, PMA, BN, NY publishers, et al. The DAFFODILS® film/TV rights have also been optioned. I believe the covers helped my Indie film producer generate interest.

    Surely there are great books with bad covers (primarily NY published authors whose rights have reverted and they’re re-issuing the book on the cheap) but not many great books by unknown authors with bad covers. A person who can’t afford a good cover probably didn’t hire an editor, etc. The book’s concept may be good but the book may need editing to make it great.

    In my 12 years as a small publishing business I have given many talks. The three things I stress are: 1) get your own block of ISBNs, that way LSI, Createspace, etc. are mere printers and if your book takes off you can print traditionally (cheaper) 2) hire a good cover artist and make sure it’s a “work for hire” contract so you have the copyright to the cover, and 3) hire an editor. Few can proof their own material, we tend to read over the mistakes because we know what we meant to say.

    Hope this helps. I’m also posting this to my own blog:
    http://inspirationalfiction.com/blog2/ Feel free to post comment here to at my blog.

    As they say in the South US: That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 😛

    Linda Tuck-Jenkins aka Mary Clay

    • Mohana

      You’re so right Linda. A good cover is expensive and so easy to pick out from the rest that are out there. Even among my 7 titles, I know which ones get the WOW reaction from readers.

      I’m one hundred percent with you on editing. Though I work with other people’s text, I cannot edit my own!

      Good luck to you and thanks for stopping in.

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