Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Evolution of a Book Cover

“It's getting very near the end.” -- Lennon/McCartney

Writing my first novel, The Tourist Killer, took longer that expected. When the end of the actual writing task became clearly visible on the horizon, the thoughts of a book cover design moved up the priority rankings in my mind.

I went to and began to study book covers in the appropriate genre -- political thrillers.

In short order, it became clear that repetition exists.  Several authors chose the same stock images. My publisher confirmed that situation is common in the business.  It was anathema to me.  I’ve been a photographer for years and the transition to author brings the baggage of a preference for originality, creativity and a desire to be unique.

What to do?

The solution came from an unexpected source.  The principal character in my book is Claudia Barry.  She said, “Use one of my paintings!”

As the book opens, we meet Claudia as she completes an assignment. This professional woman is in her early sixties and contemplating retirement.  Her favorite hobby is oil painting.  However, there is a scene in the book where she decides to experiment with another medium. [The reasons for this change would be a plot spoiler.] The result is a watercolor painting of the Manhattan Skyline as seen from Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken, New Jersey.

David Ammons of Sylva, North Carolina has been painting in both oil and watercolor mediums for about ten years. Recently his work has sold quite well at his page on Art-3000. David agreed to produce a painting and sign it as “Claudia Barry.” He worked from one of my photographs. Readers of The Tourist Killer will find a special note of thanks on the “Acknowledgements” page.

My publishers, Venture Galleries, art critics and other publishing contacts of mine, all were enthusiastic about David, er, Claudia’s work.  Not to leave a stone unturned, we consulted professional book cover designer, Jeff Bennington, for his thoughts. Jeff liked the watercolor piece as well and using it as a starting point, created a dynamite cover.  

If readers enjoy the content of The Tourist Killer as much as those of us involved like the cover, we should have a best seller.

Special thanks again to both David Ammons and Jeff Bennington.


  1. The secret that authors have to endure is this: Don't choose a cover that you like. Choose one that grabs readers by the shoulders and demands them to buy the book. Your cover is exceptional. The city looks a little out of kilter, just like the assassin's life.

  2. Yes, exactly what I thought, so many covers are identical. That's why I take my time with mine.