Covers That Speak to the Heart

SIMON SAYS_mckup04


I can see the cover now: a blinding storm—a blizzard, perhaps—commuters trapped in an avalanche of snow—waiting to be rescued by—a team of sled dogs and a handsome forrest ranger…

(Sounds so good,  I just may write it!!)

But, wait—we are talking about the COVER of the book.

The question is: Should the cover tell the story…or only allude to it?

Since I just finished the cover for my newest fiction book, Simon Says, I can only share my insights from the process.

I thought, I knew what I wanted. I even conveyed it to the design team at 99Designs.

However, when I made a poll of my favorite designs, it turns out that responders had something else in mind.

They wanted a somewhat vague, emotionally-driven cover.

This shouldn’t really surprise me, because when I shop for a book to read, covers that evoke emotion are at the top of my list. They speak to the heart.

The cover should be a little vague. It should allude to–but not tell the whole story. It should make the shopper curious...pick it up…turn it over…read the back copy…hunger for more…

My new cover shows a boy watching a neighborhood baseball game from afar. The reader doesn’t know it is about bullying until they read the back cover copy…but THEY SENSE THE ISOLATION and that is how they connect with Marcus, the main character.

So, when it came down to it, I had to trust my audience because

the customer is always right.


Can Fiction Deliver A Powerful Message?


32838577662_02d6f6f35dLet’s talk about writing goals.

I’m not referring to how many words you’ll write in a day or how many months you’ll allow yourself for writing that next great literary masterpiece.

Let’s consider the question: “Why do you write?” in the first place.

Some say it frees inner anxieties and helps work out problems, in much the same way as journaling.

Others may see it as a future money maker. Hum…

Still others view writing as a way of sharing information or the story of their journey through difficult times in an effort to help others facing similar circumstances.

Let’s go with the idea of helping others.

The next decision would be whether that would be best accomplished through fiction or non-fiction.

If one can share from real life experience, that would be the most powerful.

If not, can the same message be conveyed via fiction?

I believe it can—and I believe, if well-written, it can be just as powerful.

That means doing a little research on the subject at hand, and perhaps reading a couple of non-fiction books on the subject. You can then use the facts to weave a meaningful story with realistic characters.

I am currently writing a fiction book about bullying. As a former counselor, I know some of the facts. I can even recall situations that were shared with me. But, I still found it necessary to do some further research on the internet and interview a few people so that I could create characters and circumstances that would be believable—and that readers will connect with.

Finally, each time I write, I need to get in what I call the “emotional zone” so that I can write from the perspective of the person being bullied.

My writing goal?

To use my character’s emotional journey to help others vicariously experience the pain bullying causes and then join the effort to erase it from our culture.