An Apology and Some Pointed Questions

Yes, as my mom would say, I’m here again with the excuses of “someone who pays late.”

But there are reasons.  The most material one is that I’ve been very ill (more than I thought. Why do I only realize these things in retrospect?) for two weeks. So I’m late on things that have deadlines, and things that simply must be finished.

Also, I really don’t know whether to continue with the cover workshop, mostly because it’s too long and it’s hard to keep focus. So beneath, there are a series of questions for you, gentle readers.Do you want me to continue with the cover series?

If so, what genres/subgenres should I cover? Or do you have questions about covers that I can answer? (Or that I can’t answer, but can point you in the right direction to find the answer.)

Whatever the answer above:
What do you want me to cover next? Any topic suggestions?

If for seminars/related posts, let’s make them topics that can be covered in three weeks at most, because due to the format after that, I or you guys lose focus.

In what other way can this blog help you? What would you like to see us cover/talk about/explain?

Let me know.  Now that the virus is gone, I should be able to accommodate things you really want to see.


  1. Honestly, one of the best things you could do on the cover front (and this could go for ANY Mad Genius contributor) is to collect all of the posts on covers, yours and other folk, and make a link for it somewhere. I know you already have some of it in the Navigating From Writing to Publication, but a comprehensive link would be nice too.

  2. Why not ask readers to contribute two cover images, one that they really liked, and one that they really disliked? Ask them to give reasons for liking/disliking it. That could develop into a kind of crowd-sourced workshop about “covers that work” versus “covers that don’t work”.

    Just a thought.

  3. I like the idea of creating a covers link similar to the Navigating from Writing to Publishing. In terms of things other than covers, maybe a bit more on the business side of things (again, there’s some of that in the Navigating links, but perhaps another, separate round-up of links. Those are more nit-picky things (well, you did ask…) and I know that I can search around and find most of the answers I need. This blog has been supremely helpful. Now, I just need to finish editing and send the stupid thing out to my beta readers….

  4. Fonts for genre – the good, the bad, and the “for the love of Ghu, don’t do this.” (Keeping in mind the thumbnail and black-and-white screen problems.)

    1. This. So very much this.

      Especially since the permitted commercial use of fonts is often opaque, and a potential legal minefield.

  5. I am writing a series that is centered on the story of a particular family . Novel the First is a framing tale, a tale in which the varying story arcs, one for each family member, is begun. Each of those arcs will vary quite a bit; one will be romance, one a detective story, a political intrigue story, a military adventure.another cutting edge sci-fi, etc. The entire series will be at least seven, maybe ten, books. How do design the cover for the first book, the framing tale?

    1. What sort of world does the family live in? Is it a SF world? If not, how does the cutting edge SF story happen? I’m no expert, but probably that’s where I’d start.

      1. Incredibly, the threads and story arcs DO intertwine, and the things in one arc do affect the events in the other arcs. At first, I was concerned that, say, a lover of detective stories wouldn’t give a wombat’s aa55 about a military or sci-fi novel, but my beta readers have assured me they characters are so entertaining that they would follow them through disparate tales. Still leaves me with the cover issue. i’m thinking that the later novels in the series could carry the imprimatur of its particular genre, but how do I signal readers of that framing tale that follow-on novels will vary widely in style? Allene, the main story is set in the present. The sci-fi story will be about technical innovations on the very near horizons.(Like before you or I are pushing up daisies.)

        1. So, no time-travel or portals to other worlds. On the one hand, no need to worry about signalling SF or F right away. OTOH, the only stories I can think of that do that sort of thing are by Allende or Steinbeck, and I’ve yet to see an interesting cover on a Steinbeck. 😅

          1. Yet he somehow maned to sell books. Any number of internet purveyors of advice, (cover design subdivision) will have no idea how that happened. :-0

    2. As a reader I find the idea promising. Don’t know how you should market the covers, but I like mixing genres and read in multiple genres: Fantasy, SF (mostly Space Opera), Urban Fantasy, Romance, Mistery, Noir, Romantic Suspense… so I suppose you’ll potential readers would be primary my kind of profile.

      1. Others (not here) have have advised me that such a polyglot mixture of genres is not the wisest of ideas, but I have the opinion that voracious readers are not so hidebound as regards their reading. If the stories are entertaining, I personally don’t much care if the genre is my favorite. Iacknowledge I may be in the minority here. We shall see.

        1. I think genres are largely for the people who make the schematics for chain bookstores. They want a catalog with X number of new titles for each section, and so that’s what the traditional publishers deliver.

          Readers, though, don’t tend to stick to one shelf. Someone who reads Jerry Pournelle is more likely to also read Tom Clancy than Ursula Le Guin. A fan of Ray Bradbury is probably going to enjoy A Hundred Years Of Solitude more than a Dragonlance novel. A Maze Of Death features interstellar travel, so does Star Trek, but they are hardly the same thing.

          A series of novels that are all in different genres but take place in the same shared universe strikes me as a fine idea.

          1. “A series of novels that are all in different genres but take place in the same shared universe strikes me as a fine idea.”

            Misha. I’m going to write it, no matter what, as the characters, won’t let me not. write it. My beta readers (albeit too few) are going gaga over it, and want me to write faster.

            I’ve read too many places about the importance of covers in marketing. I’m just at a loss on how to market this all-important first book. the framing tale. I don’t believe people will be reluctant to buy subsequent books if they’ll just read the first.

            Reply Comments

  6. Ad copy, the blurb to sell the book to the audience, kicks my ass. Cover grabs attention, the stuff on the back made take a peek in to see if I liked the style.

  7. font choice, sources for fonts, whether that title is really too long to be legible on an amazon product image…

    1. Save it as a jpg, and look at it as a Large Icon and as an Extra-Large icon both. It can be — eye-opening.

  8. I’m still interested to read your take on YA covers. I’ve noticed that the different genres of YA covers look more similar to other YA than they do to the regular books in that genre. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what the signifiers are. Especially for illustrated covers.

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