The (Cover’s) the Thing . . .

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

It’s an expression so common, so overused, many of us may turn a deaf ear to it.  Perhaps we even roll our eyes and think, Can they spew out more cliches while they’re at it?

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But for authors who have worked countless hours on a novel, experiencing the high, soaring peaks and muddy, shallow bottomlands of the creative journey, and who stuck through the process, even on those dark days when all seemed lost and the literary well seemed as dry and barren as the surface of a dead world floating endlessly in orbit, the notion that the story, their story, which they have finally completed, needs the window-dressing of a sensational cover may at first blush seem rather insulting.  After all, isn’t it the story that counts?  The prose?  The characters that populate the pages?  Shouldn’t the novel stand alone, on its own merit?

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Of course it should, and, to a large degree, it does.  But readers can only enjoy your story if they know it exists.  They can’t become entranced by the literary world you’ve created unless they first choose to purchase the book.  And, apart from family, friends, friends of friends, what can an author who is anything but a household name do to attract a broader readership?  Social media, paid advertising, marketing, and of course joining the wonderful WordPress community are all potential ways of discovering a wider audience.

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But creating a can’t-miss, spectacular cover for your book is essential, and its something comic book publishers have known, and practiced, since the first issues hit the newsstands nearly a century ago.

As a lifelong comic book collector, I am not ashamed to admit–there are some vintage issues I have acquired over the years simply on the basis of the cover alone.  I can well imagine the comics buyer from decades ago, the ten-year-old with the freckles, the teenager in pigtails, spinning the squeaky rack, deciding which issues they should plunk their dimes and nickels and pennies on.  In an era before cable television, before VHS cassettes and DVDs, and long before the Internet and smartphones, comic books were wildly popular.  Hundreds of issues graced the stands every month.

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A great cover was not just an option.  It was a necessity.

Classic comic book covers came in all genres, all styles, all moods . . .

From the bombastic . . .

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to the fun . . .

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to the spooky . . .

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to the startling . . .

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to the adventurous . . .

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to the ironic . . .

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to the larger-than-life . . .

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When it came to The Eye-Dancers, I knew from the outset who I wanted to design the cover.  One of the earliest posts on this website covered (pun intended!) this topic.  Matt Gaston, artist, graphic designer, and all-around talented and creative guy, is a lifelong friend of mine.  I was very fortunate that he agreed to do the cover for the novel when I asked him.

Like me, Matt is a longtime comic book collector, and we agreed that the look and feel of The Eye-Dancers cover should pay homage to our hobby.  So whenever anyone tells me, as some have, that the cover of The Eye-Dancers reminds them of a graphic novel or a vintage comic from yesteryear, I smile.  I’m sure Matt does, too.  We wouldn’t want it any other way.

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When we were kids, Matt and I used to talk about the future.  Maybe we’d team up and do a comic book strip.  I’d be the writer, he the artist.  We never quite made it to collaborating on a comic strip.  But I like to think that The Eye-Dancers represents a little slice, a miniature helping of that long-ago dream.

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When that last sentence is written, when you shed a tear at “The End,” thinking of the long journey, the obstacles overcome, when you hope that your characters will move readers, that your words, your similes and metaphors, your twists and turns, your story will carry them away to another world, far, far away, beyond some distant, star-speckled horizon, consider those classic old comic books that wowed the young, and young at heart, of bygone eras . . .

No book should be judged by its cover.  But it just might be purchased because of it.

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Facebook Feedback

These are exciting days in The Eye-Dancers universe (or, considering the locales in the story, maybe I should say multiverse)!

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The Eye-Dancers has been available for purchase for a couple of months, and a sequel is now in the works.  I plan to begin writing it within the next week or two, and am looking forward to delving back in to the characters’ worlds, and starting a new adventure.

A couple of months ago, I created the Eye-Dancers Facebook page.  But, quite honestly, other than writing a few announcement-style posts early on, that site has remained mostly dormant.  I’d like that to change, and would love to hear your thoughts.

What kinds of things do you like to see on a Facebook fan page?  My aim is for the Eye-Dancer Facebook page to be its own unique place–a fun and interactive site, worthy to be “Liked”!  Thanks to everyone who has visited and Liked the page so far!  And thanks for your patience over these past few weeks while the site has just kind of sat there, without being updated with fresh content.  It’s time to change that.  And your feedback would be most appreciated.

It’s interesting to think of the “old days” before the Internet and the ability to interact so readily with so many people.  Back then, as an author, you could receive postal mail and hear from readers that way (assuming you even had a wide enough audience for this to happen).  But by and large, you existed in something of a bubble.  You wrote what you wrote, hoped people would enjoy it, but rarely received very much feedback from readers, and then you moved on to your next project.  Whereas in 2013, we can all exchange ideas, give each other feedback, and carry on engaging conversations.  It’s a new world, really, and an exciting one.

I’m grateful to be a part of it, and as always I thank you so much for reading!

–Mike

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