Gestation of a Book Cover

Gestation of a Book Cover

Books, just like kids, adapt and change their outside appearance as they grow to maturity. It’s still very much the same inside, but the outside goes through significant changes as they develop.  And that’s how it’s has been with my latest book due for publication mid-September 2019.

It started as Fairy Tales for Grownups, a title while still appeals a lot to me today. It may well transform into quite another book itself as it carries a mystery and intrigue more appropriate to other content and themes.

As the current book grew, it developed with sombre and serious themes. Trickery and Machiavellian methods in modern society surface and the concept of fairy stories, while still apt, was not as a sufficiently dark level to accurately reflect the plots and nefarious duplicity.

The title changed to Deception for Power and Profit – short, sharp and relevant.​

The material was turning out to be for more than anticipated. Once the research really got into gear, a great deal more than expected floated into focus and on to the page. This was going to be a door-stopper if it ended up as one book. And so, there was another change. It would be split into three sections, and these would be published as short-ish eBooks. A series of separate covers were developed, and these can be seen reflected in earlier posts in this blog.

All remained calm for a while. Little could be heard except for the clatter of typing keys and the swish of reference books. Gradually the mountain of words rose upon the page, finally finishing with fifty-four chapters and 120,000 words. That seemed to work okay – giving and average eBook for each section of around 40,000 words equivalent to something like 160 digital ‘pages’.

Then the editing began. Once again, I’m reminded of Mark Twain and his, ‘Had I more time, I should have written less’. Modern-day editors say, ‘Kill your little darlings.’

When you look at that splendidly massive heap of manuscript on your writing desk or screen, you’re much more likely to lean back in your chair and smile smugly, than you are to pull out your editing-sabre and start slashing. An author’s words are like children, and no one in their right mind goes around killing kids. That first glow of a finished manuscript is magical.

Like a young mother cradling her first child, you hold it in your gaze for the first time. Thousands of words march across the pages like battalions of well-drilled soldiers, those words over which you laboured for so many months, appear tinged with some mystical beauty. It’s a natural mystery which both writers and mothers are only too familiar: fulfilment.

Consequently, it’s a tad more than tricky even to notice our mistakes, much less draw razor-sharp red pens and cover the page in bloody amputations. It’s an unfortunate reality, however, that such bloodletting is just about the only way to prevent the predictably long-winded phrases, bloating, and general hubris that inevitably find their way into all of our first drafts.

This is the point it should quickly go to your editor. You are in no fit state to be in control anymore. You are very much ‘under-the-influence’ as the police would have it.

Nobody likes red-lines all over their work. You didn’t like it when your teacher at school did it, and you certainly don’t appreciate your editor’s efforts – after all, you are the one who’s footing that bill! After the initial shell-shock, you know they are right. Lingering author’s PTSD will never entirely disappear, but the remaining manuscript has undoubtedly improved. Hopefully, your ugly duckling has grown into a beautiful swan.

And so, it was, my 120k words were reduced by a third to just over 80k. Trimmed of stodgy fat, now fully fit, it was in full racing trim. But, there’s always a but, isn’t there – it was a mite short for a three-eBook series. Change gear again, the three sections remain but get merged into a single one book, both in digital and print format. This means those book covers go out the window – more darling atrocities.

While it was all passing through the torture-mill of editing, I’d begun to have doubts about that title. There was always a tagline: What You Don’t Know About What You Think You Do. A sneaky little thought popped into the back door of my brain, could this be a better main title? No, of course not, much too long. But the thought wouldn’t go away. There was only one thing to do – market research. It got trotted around friends, on and offline, and the upshot was the title and tagline got flipped.

The new cover for the single book started to form. It was a significant improvement on the earlier series versions. Focusing on the print version first, I ended up with the one still seen on this home-page of this website. I still like it today. But it would never work in a digital version which would eclipse Pinocchio and lose the surprise as a potential print-book reader switched on to the front and back cover-connection. Ebooks don’t have back covers, back to the drawing board.

The latest incarnation is what you see at the beginning of this post. It still has a lot of the mood from the earlier print-book version along with the essential asset of being suitable for digital. So, there you have it, that is where we are today. Tomorrow, who knows?

There could be something very different about you as an author or your book if, during gestation, it never changes. Sometimes such metamorphosis is dramatic. This should not worry you. It’s quite normal and, as I have found, even healthy. Let your work grow. Listen to its vibes.

Both of you will be the better for it.

book cover offer

book cover offer

Don’t let Mr Bezos, Mr Gates, or even Mr Trump fool you. Nobody ever built anything substantial by themselves. They all needed help, especially when they started out – and you and I are no different.Book cover

Writing the book is the fun part. It oft-times may not seem so on those ‘dark and stormy nights’ when your muse has deserted you – the white paper of the Word document staring back at you like an opaque white mirror. Even so, writing your book is almost always the easiest part of your journey. This comes as a sharp shock to many who, on dashing off that closing killer paragraph then breathe a sigh of relief. It’s done; it’s all finally on record. Whoopee!

Now comes the slog, the editing, the checking, the formatting, the beta readers – does the list never end? Sorry, no – there’s still the cover to be done, the blurb for the back page if it’s going to print and a dozen or so others bits and bobs. It’s a three-ring circus – and you’re the ringmaster!

This is not Harry Potter land – more’s the pity. There’s no Hagrid, Quidditch or Hogwarts knocking around in either your or my neck of the woods. J.K. Rowling has sole rights to those and she worked damned hard to get them – we all do. I have no magic spells. But I do have a cunning plan, of a much superior quality to Baldrick’s best.

I have many years of experience in web design which I largely gave up to write when I retired. Have finished a book or two I find myself back in the design, blogging and website game – full circle. Like most writers, I prefer the writing rather than all the ‘stuff’ that goes with as baggage. So, when it came to a re-design of the cover for the newly titled Deception for Power and Profit, I put it out to tender.

I decided I’d check out both ends of the scale – Fiverr and the professionals. Fiverr’s best was asking for around $50. You don’t get a lot for $50 these days in design, and that was what I got – not a lot. It was fine, basic but pedestrian – no pizzazz. If you took a book with that cover off the shelf and bought it, it wasn’t because the cover had worked its magic. Okay so, what about the pros? Well, now we’re into serious money. I struck a deal for $250. Writing of the main article continued but there was always that thrill of anticipation in the background for what the designer might come up with.

To keep a long, tawdry and unhappy situation polite, the result was not as expected. I could do as well or better myself – so I did. What I didn’t get was my money back but we always pay for experience so it’s a lesson learned.

It was probably musing on my misspent cash which caused the spark of a solution. If I was having such problems so were others. Hmm, I’d yet to organise the marketing of my books and if there’s a group of things I hate, (apart from the obvious politicians and bankers) it’s marketing and social media. Twitter, Facebook and I just don’t get on. You know how it was when that distant old aunt with a stubbly kid gave you a kiss when you were a kid? Well, that’s me and social media. Yet millions love it. Oh well, each to his own.

Ping! Where do these creative thoughts spring from – probably Hogwarts, I guess. Whatever – it suddenly struck me others may not enjoy book cover design like me. Maybe they felt about it like me and social media. They were stuck. as I was initially, with a tough choice of cheap & cheerful from Fiverr and the rest or run the hard-handed gauntlet of a pro-job which may or may not work out. How about I offer to do book-covers in return for a bit of social media from others? No deals, no cash, just helping each other out. PdePages Book Covers was born.

Check out the details here.

Get your FREE Professional Book Cover Now


deception – birth

deception – birth

Deception for Power and Profit Book 1This book is no Johnny-come-lately. The seeds lay dormant beneath the hard earth of reality for many years. In many ways, it is, in essence, a summation of all my Alice-in-Wonderland surprises of over half a century’s living in several different countries and societies.

Distilled from many and varied times spent both at summer balls, complete with white-tie, champagne cocktails and ushers, to others beside the high-street cardboard mattress crew. It’s based on wide experience and a laser-look at some very dodgy but all too commonly accepted ideas. It really is time to wake up.

In fact, those Alice-in-Wonderland feelings prompted the original title which was Fairy Tales for Grown Ups. This was a popular choice until a wise marketer pointed out it was good but was also going to upset a whole bunch of people. No matter if on Google or Amazon, Mums seeking bed-time stories for youngsters were the ones who were going to be entering the keywords Fairy Tales. Deception for Power and Profit Book 2

 They were going to be more than a little upset when they came across a book detailing the shenanigans of modern society. Whilst such bed-time reading might well have prepared their tender-offspring better for the tricks and traps of modern life, when it came to settling down to sleep, Thomas the Tank Engine and his pals were a better bet. The result would be no sale, frustrated Mums and the two big search engines for books both pointing everybody down the wrong alley. It had to go.

 And so, Deception for Power and Profit was born. This, one would hope, left little or no doubt to the browsing book-seeker what lay between the covers. People with that odd, queasy intuition things in today’s society were not quite as they should be, would find what they were looking for and the infants could slumber between their own covers innocent, untroubled and uninformed. No matter, their time would come

 Many notes were kept over many years ending up with an incredible stack shuffled into a fantastic note-taking app called Bear. I recommended it to you. Like a distant oasis in the desert, the destination was hazy and distant. There were many mirages along the way. Eventually, the idea got a skeleton and, bit by bit, factual meat was hung upon its bones.

Maybe there was, like in Snoopy’s case, a dark and stormy night. For suddenly it seemed touched by lightning. The whole project came to life. Swiftly it took on the energy of a bowl of fermenting yeast, a very sorcerer’s apprentice of a book – there was no controlling it. Originally intended as a brief ebook of around 40,000 words, it tripled in size. An adjustment was clearly needed.Deception for Power and Profit Book 3

After much dithering, the obvious answer arrived like a bucket of cold water – split it into three ebooks. And that is what happened. As I write, Book 1 is coming up to its final edit and should be published in late November. Book 2 is scheduled for the end of this year, 2018 with the final one, Book 3 arriving in the first month or two of 2019.

At that point, all three ebooks will be combined into a door-stopper single book, in both paperback and hardback. After all, if we’re going to cut down the trees, it can at least be used as a door-stopper if nobody reads it. 🙂

In subsequent posts, I’ll be covering each book in more detail.

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