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  • By Victoria Mixon

    Okay, guys. I need your help.

    We’ve been tinkering with the cover. This is one of the beauties of indie publishing (although I’ve been advised today that that’s a misleading term. . .authors who publish themselves are, technically, self-publishers and small publishers who publish other people are indie—although unless you name your publishing company after yourself who’s going to know?). Not only do I get final say in the design of my cover, but because I have a background in design I can keep tinkering with it right up until the last minute. Not that I advise this. What I really advise is that you hire someone with a background in design and then don’t tinker with nothing. But anyway.

    Will you vote on the version you like best? You’ll notice one version actually uses a shorter title. I know, I lost the ampersand I loved, which was my reason for choosing this typeface in the first place. But—as you know—it’s all about the reader’s experience, never about the writer’s.


                

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    32 Comments

    “The freshest and most relevant
    advice you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Writing Fiction

    The Art & Craft of Writing Stories


    A. VICTORIA MIXON, FREELANCE INDEPENDENT EDITOR

    VICTORIA’S ADVICE COLUMN

    32 Comments

32 Responses to “Voting on my book cover”

  1. I like the third cover layout.

  2. In this order: 1st, 3rd, 2nd.

    Simplicity is key, and the first one looks the simplest. Though I generally don’t like how you cut off the picture to put your name… I think you should keep your name where it is, just take out the pure black background.

    Nice picture by the way. I like it a lot! =]

  3. I like the first and third because of the way the book splits. The one in the middle seems too top heavy with the dark bit at the top. My eye naturally gravitates toward the first though.

    Oh, and I don’t think the picture is cut out…I think that’s the shape of the desk!

  4. I like number three the best. I’m able to see the photo of the (lovely) workspace a bit more easily. The large type in numbers 1 and 2 make my eye fight with the picture and I’m not really sure which way to look first. With number three, I can settle into the image easily and then read the text. The text is another reason I like number three. From days as a graphic designer, I’m a firm believer in “the more you tell, the more you sell.” So, number three has “the art and craft” and it’s kept together with the rest of the title. I’m really enjoying the warmth of the photo but I’m wondering about the black band in the middle–although not wondering much (maybe I’d drop the text from a bright white to just a half-notch lower). I know the title needs to pop, but the band in the middle isn’t really flowing for me. I do, however, think the font is spot on, in terms of an arts and craft look. It’s a wonderful cover, in concept and execution. I’d buy any of them, seriously, although I like number three the best.

  5. I vote for #1. Short & sweet, and the title is very visible. I also like #3, but I think the first one is my favorite.

  6. Kathryn said on

    I love, and have always loved, this picture of your office. It’s lush, warm and I have a hard time believing anyone could walk into this room without being overcome by the desire to read a book – and I mean a whopper like Moby Dick or The Count of Monte Cristo! It’s a fabulous cover.

    My eye was also drawn to the first choice. But I have to say, just seeing Fiction in such large letters almost made me think this was a fiction novel about a woman editor who lives in a cozy cottage and edits mysteries lovingly until the day she realizes that the fiction in her latest editing job is intruding upon her real life.

    So, my eye goes to the third cover and the title makes much more sense in revealing the book’s contents and I’m almost happy with it, until I go back to the first cover and I’m so attracted to those large letters and I just want to smush those two things together – so I would almost like to see a fourth option – well really only three still because I don’t like choice number 2 very much at all. I don’t like the black at the top. Did your husband come up with that one?

    So I say: FICTION in bold letters with “Its art and craft” right below it
    and at the bottom – a practitioner’s manual/Victoria Mixon

    But, If I have to chose from the existing choices, I’d have to say one because, although 3 is by far the lovliest, FIRST we must catch the buyer’s eye.

    You could always put chocolate on the cover, too.

    I’m happy for you!

    K

  7. Victoria said on

    Wow, Kathryn—“its arts and crafts” is a pretty darn good idea.

    I came up with #2. My husband is a long-suffering saint who sits here moving words a fraction of an inch this way and a fraction of an inch that way at my direction, because he knows PhotoShop and I don’t. He liked #3 just fine the way it was. Either that he or was just tired of the folderal. I’m the one who said, “All other books have the titles bigger. You’re supposed to be able to read them from across the room at Barnes & Noble.”

    And, may I say, you guys are all champs for showing up and casting your votes the minute I threw it out there. Lindsey Edwards, Steve, Lindsey, Terisa Green, Jefro. Wow. I should have asked you a long time ago. I should be polling you every step of the way.

  8. Kathryn said on

    Yea, well that’s what you get for taking sides with my son and critiquing my work!

  9. I think I like #3 the best.

  10. I like the third one, but somehow that dark corner makes it seem as if the bottom margin is really large. It might look different printed, though.

  11. Victoria said on

    Actually, the bottom margin IS larger on the third. It needs to be enlarged on the other two. Good eye!

    I have to ask—you’re not the Ai who wrote “The Killing Floor,” are you?

  12. Anastasia said on

    The first two as #1 and #2….and not the third at all!!

    Great to meet you talking about Berkeley in the 60s-70s at SheWrites Victoria, and learn you have peer-edited Lucia Orth, one of my Twitter acquaintances.

  13. I like #1, but I like ‘The Art and Craft of” better than “A Practitioner’s Manual.” I don’t think you need both. I still love your desk.

  14. #3
    Just like how the title is compressed

  15. Jeffrey Russell said on

    I like #3 the best.

  16. Victoria said on

    You know, you guys are not narrowing this down AT ALL. This is what I get for asking a consensus from creative types.

    What about a fourth option? What if we moved the header “the Art & Craft of” down to the same block of black as Fiction? Would you like to see that?

    Chris, I take your point about the Practitioner’s Manual. The problem is that this could be a novel—as Kathryn has pointed out—and nonfiction typically uses subheaders to clarify exactly what you’re going to get (largely for that reason). Philosophy on the art & craft? An exploration of published fiction and fiction authors? Research data? Or just FICTION?

    I want readers to know this is an actual manual for people who actually practice this craft. It’s organized that way—partly because I have a lot of experience organizing manuals full of complex information for people who just need an answer to a specific question when their heads are about to explode, and partly because it helps readers organize the vast and complicated number of tasks involved in fiction in their own heads to see it simplified by structure.

    I was also happy with the compressed title when we first designed it. But I’ve been researching book covers, and the titles really are big. B.I.G. I was joking about being able to read them across the room at mega-stores like Barnes & Noble, but kind of not joking. It also has to be easily-readable in condensed form for marketing materials. Bummer about that.

    And thank you to everyone who complimented me on the desk. I love that thing. My husband built it for me for my office in our old house, and I had him dismantle it and move it to our new place, to the attic office that I designed around it. It’s oak, solid planks that he glued together so it looks like one single solid piece. He built the bookcases over it, too. There’s a whole wall of bookcases under the sloping roof on either side of the french doors, too, that you can’t see. Never enough bookcases in the world. . .

    So what do you think? A fourth option? A fifth? More?

  17. In this order: 1, 3, and 2.

  18. I love the 3rd cover design! Nice work!

    Editor, Lyrical Passion Poetry E-Zine

  19. The one with the smaller title–the third one, I think?–is not only the best design but also the most appropriate for the kind of book this is–a textbook–not some commercial memoir or pop psychology dependent on catchy wordplay to get attention.

  20. And isn’t “the art of fiction” kind of an already popular title on craft? Doesn’t using something similar to it for your own run the risk of drawing attention to the superfluity?

  21. Victoria said on

    Weirdly enough, Charles, nobody that I can find is using The Art & Craft of Fiction. Most writers go for something punchy and zippy, trying to be unusual. You’re right that there are a ton of books out there. I’ve read a ton of them. This one’s a bit different—you’ll be able to see that when we get it set up with a See Inside button that shows the TOC and the first chapter or so. But, yeah, you could spend your life trying to find and read everything that’s been written on the subject. And then when would you write?

  22. Kathryn said on

    It’s not like you are choosing between excellent and awful. Your choices are all terrific, so don’t worry too much about that slim margin of difference.

    (psst – #1 is best)

  23. 3, 1, 2

    I like the full title; it says what the book is about. Just “Fiction” doesn’t do it for me. The argument could be made that it might prompt someone to crack the book open to find out what it covers. But honestly, I don’t think curiosity is as widespread a characteristic these days as it once was.

    Number 2 doesn’t work. The separation of the two title lines is too great. The likelihood is that most people will read one line or the other but not both, sad to say.

    Concept and execution are lovely, though, overall. As others have said, there are no bad choice here, only good, better, best.

  24. I love #4. Lovely image, great placement of title, and nice arrangement of relevant information. Second choice would be #3. Then 1, then 2.

  25. Hey there.
    I have to say:
    1. I absolutely love the background image. LOVE it. I also love your webpage background & top image (i know that last bit was irrelevant but I have trouble staying in subject LMAO!)
    2. about the title. My perfect option would be a slightly altered version of your first option. Since you write “Fiction” with an “F” expanding over 2 lines, I’d do the same for the last letter “N”. Like “FictioN”. Having done that, I’d drop the “A” in “a practitioner’s manual” and make the letters smaller to fit “Practitioner’s Manual” in between “F”and”N” of the aforementioned “FictioN”. Mentally trying to visualise that, I’d probably move that last part (prectitioner’s manual) ABOVE the word FictioN (as opposed to right under it).

    That’s all 🙂 Now I know I’m yet again off subject but if I ABSOLUTELY had to choose one of the given 4 designs, I’d probably go with the 3rd one. Hope that helps more than it confuses you 🙂 All the best!

  26. I must definitely go for #4. Even as a thumbnail on someone else’s web site it’s going to work well. Very nice job!

  27. Yep, #4 is my favorite now! I’m very jealous of the workspace though. Mine is littered with books and empty glasses.

  28. Bill Jones said on

    I like #1 and #4 in that order. I would settle on #1, but mainly because I hate the word “craft” no matter how it’s used. If you don’t have irrational hatred for words, then I’d rate them even.

    (Frankly, I must confess that as a photographer, #4 is much better visually balanced than the others it seems.)

  29. Victoria, I’d go for the third cover. It’s enticing, bright, warm, and presents the title without labouring the point. Good imagery is always a plus on a book cover. Remember when Penguin reworked the covers of classics so they had slick, colourful images instead of the usual orange, white, and black? It made them so much more appealing. As an editor, myself, I know just how painstaking the whole process is – from gathering material to the final line edit. Good luck with the book!

  30. Sorry it took so long for me to get back! And no, I’m afraid I am not the same Ai. ^_^ I’m still unpublished (I haven’t even finished a novel yet).

  31. Oh–and I vote for #4.

  32. 2nd one.




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