There’s a site that I’ve talked about before on Facebook called LousyBookCovers.com. Their stated goal is to prevent bad book covers and to prove that just because you can do your own cover doesn’t mean that you should. They have a sister site to “help prevent bad book covers BEFORE they become an embarrassment” – CoverCritics.com. In regards to the first, I got some interesting news from one of my Twitter followers yesterday. Not just one, but two of my covers were chosen for appearance on their site. (If you want to find the covers you’ll have to go digging.)
I’m of two minds about this. First of all, I think that they provide a useful service. The idea of a place you can go to as a small/independent publisher before you publish and have your cover critiqued (gently for the most part) is interesting. Crowdsourcing anything comes with its own problems, but even if you just paid attention to some of the comments/suggestions made by the original poster, I think there’s good advice to be had. The idea of having a site you can go to that displays covers who haven’t paid heed to the basics of cover design so that you can learn what not to do is also a good idea. I’m not even surprised or disappointed that they picked some of my covers. I have made some doozies. The one in the upper left hand corner likely breaks all kinds of rules. Then there’s this one.
The second mind I have is this. The covers that they did choose were done by very capable artists, and I signed off on both of them. I stand by their quality and the design choices made by the people involved. So it’s not just a matter of “not doing it yourself” or even a matter of being careful about the artists you choose to work with. I would choose both of these people again in a heartbeat. My gut reaction yesterday was to get defensive. That’s the last thing I want to do. I’ve grown a thick skin (I hope) over the last couple of years, and I recognize that not everything that I’m involved with is going to be deep fried gold. I expect that some of my books will get a one or two star review. The challenge here is, the work that’s getting reviewed wasn’t done by me. As the publisher it’s still my responsibility, but there’s a remove there. It’s made more more complicated by the fact that both artists are friends of mine.
Ultimately, some of this comes down to a matter of taste and perspective. I’m not going to go back and change either cover they picked. One of them is for a short story/serial episode and I envision releasing the other stories with very similar covers. When I release the paperback/omnibus version then I’ll make some thing that looks a bit more “traditional” perhaps while retaining the feel of the individual entries. The other I’m simply happy enough with as it is. Having said that, I do take a lot of the advice they offer on that site, both when it comes to my works and other’s. When it comes to a critique of any work, no matter how “lousy”, as long as it is offered and accepted in terms that include a desire to continue to improve or cause others to improve I think there’s value.