RANDOM NVDT – Writerly Concerns #34

Curb Appeal

I am recusing myself from this talking to cover designers issue. When I need an artist, I can find one. Talking, communicating with them is a whole other universe.

To stand out from the oatmeal we need to be different. These days that’s write better, think art.  Read on if you wish.

I have read a number of Indie books. They all have the same glossy covers from Harlequin shirtless underwear models to photo collages to prop staging you dee on the shelves. I gave a friend of mine a copy of  Elmore Leonard’s Touch I picked up at Half Price Books. The cover not all that dissimilar from the stacks of “new” books by authors I never heard of. I was in the Dollar Store picking up ‘grandkids build a diorama day’ stuff. There was a hardback, with a decent, watercolory cover about murder in the Bahamas or somewhere. I did the same thing in those places that I did when I picked up a Baldacci, all red dust-cover hardbound at Barnes and Noble for under $5. I opened them. Anywhere in the middle third. And I got treated to the same thing. Abysmal call and response dialogue, oatmeal style blonde curls bouncing like tulips in the wind hair tossing tags paragraphs in circles. I put them down.

Not unlike popping open a preview on Amazon. All the same four or five motifs only in thumbnails. What’s inside is what matters. And there’s a lot of oatmeal out there.

The indie community is all part of that. And why there are so many shiny covers in the cut-out bins, complaints about this is my 37th novel and nobody cares. Has anyone considered, and I’m talking to people in this blog hop as well, being more concerned with our content than a shiny cover? Spending a little money and a lot of time on Richard Lanham’s Revising Prose instead of the perfect cover to wrap our amateurism in? Or spend money once or twice on an editor who will bust our chops, show us our shortcomings and bad habits, whether we agree or not, instead of a great cover?

Am I a grumpy old fart? Probably. But I spent my life in creative for $. Art directors, videographers, photographers, graphic artists, dancers, musicians. What I learned dealing with everyone from Van Halen to Herbie Hancock, Bob Moog to Kurt Vonnegut – half-assed doesn’t cut it. Professional content creators pretty much leave the covers to someone else and spend their time on content.

Before any of us spend any more time on covers we should all spend two more weeks editing out all the elliptical sentences, winding road paragraphs, lengthy useless descriptions and out of tune “clams” we can find in our work. And then find a cover that is different.

The only way to stand out in a crowded field of oatmeal is not to be the same ol’ same ol’. Until we are the modern Vonnegut or Leonard or even Baldacci that people buy by name, not cover we need not just be pretty, but good.


1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Published by

Phil Huston


10 thoughts on “RANDOM NVDT – Writerly Concerns #34”

    1. I have commentary about ANY model, photographed or painted but I benched it in the interest of peace keeping lest anyone were to take it personally because that would not be the intent. Thanks!


    1. Unicorns and dinosaurs, segregated. I saved the little plastic boats from the little kid bath times toy toss and will join in with a serene waterway scene. Unless there are spare dinosaurs.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I try to make my books a little different to what everyone else is doing, both in terms of the cover and the first few pages. I might save by doing my own covers but I DO spend money on the important things, like editing.


  2. What’s inside is much more important to me than the cover. I don’t have an editor, but it’s on my to do list. I may turtle my way there, but I have direction and goals.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I automatically skip over books with covers featuring shirtless male models, and ladies in skimpy clothing kissing aforesaid shirtless male models. I agree with you Phil – it’s the content that’s most important.


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