Below is an interview I conducted with Jessica Levin, entrepreneur, marketer, president of Seven Degrees Communications, people connector and author of Everyone Has Sh*t: Unsolicited Advice for Being Human. A copy can be purchased on Amazon. Jessica is a long-time friend and continues to be a guiding light as I develop my skills in marketing (and struggle to find the best gin & tonic in Washington, DC).
So a decent amount of reader feedback has come back for the three cover designs proposed for my novel, Billy Maddox Takes His Shot, and two cover designs ran almost neck and neck: #2 and #3. Thirteen readers thought Cover #2 was the strongest choice while 12 readers preferred Cover #3. Four readers also weighed in as advocates for #1 with some compelling arguments for why that cover was the strongest. Let’s break down the feedback to determine how to move forward with the final book cover design.
Readers browsing Amazon’s online book store (the Kindle store) for their next read will make their purchasing decisions based on several factors. The cover has to be attractive. The book description should be compelling. And then there are reader reviews. A book with seven reviews is likely going to be perceived as less interesting than a book with seven HUNDRED reviews. The latter will be perceived as one where readers are heading in droves in pursuit of a great and wonderful story, whereas the former–the book with seven reviews–will be perceived as one read only by the author’s mother and a handful of friends.
Back at the State University of Binghamton, where I was a creative writing student in the mid-1990s, I wrote a short story called “Shakespeare’s Night on the Town”. It wasn’t a very good story–overly moralistic (hey, I was raised Catholic!) and slightly naive. It was also a very long story. I told my professor, Liz Rosenberg, that I struggled to write short stories. “Maybe you’re a novelist,” she responded. I have never forgotten she said that. It resonated at the time, and it continues to resonate now.
I’m a huge Star Wars fan and it was a big deal when Disney, which owns the rights to Lucasfilm, released Rogue One last December–the first Star Wars film that wasn’t part of one of the trilogies. I thought Rogue One was pretty fantastic for two reasons: one, because the characters had distinct lives and identities of their own, and secondly, because the story ties in closely with the original Star Wars film, “A New Hope”, that came out in 1977. In that film, of course, the Rebel Alliance destroys a planet-killing space station known as the Death Star. Luke Skywalker, the Rebel pilot and Jedi Knight in training, pulls the trigger that does the deed.
One wonders how the evil Empire could have constructed an engineering marvel such as the Death Star while leaving such an absurd flaw that leaves the entire station exposed to the devastating impact of a single shot. That story is the one told in “Rogue One”. My novel, Green Bay Outsiders, has something in common with the relationship between those two movies.
A huge thanks to everyone who contributed feedback on the three proposed cover design options for Green Bay Outsiders. In all, more than 30 people offered really great and insightful perspectives. Admittedly, the favorite book cover design among my readers was almost neck-and-neck between two of the three proposals. With that said, the final choice is the result of suggestions made concerning ALL three covers. So with that said, here’s a list of choices I made based on reader feedback: