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:
Years ago, I joined the Peace Corps, a U.S.-government-funded volunteer organization that sends willing Americans overseas to participate in grassroots projects with the citizens of countries around the world. Some volunteers do community development, others lead health or sustainable agriculture projects. I ended up teaching English as a foreign language in Sri Lanka. I was supposed to live and teach there for two years but the country was in the middle of a civil war at the time, and my assignment ended up being cut in half.
A variation of the following short statement accompanies the novella, The Curse of Jaxx, and was written by the story’s author to explain its dedication to the early-20th century writer, H.P. Lovecraft.
I have been a fan of H.P. Lovecraft since my late teens. I first came across the word “Lovecraftian” in Stephen King’s novel, The Stand, when I was about 13 and had no idea what it meant at the time. But a few years later, my friend Dale showed up in front of my parents’ house on his Harley and pulled out a collection of Lovecraft’s collection of short stories. “You’ve got to check this out,” he said. “It’s amazing.”