I admit it. My recently completed three-part interview with Norman Mailer (#1, #2, #3) in the INTERVIEWS WITH THE DEAD series damn near killed me! The man can drink and he can talk. So, since I’m working hard to publish TIES THAT BLIND, the fourth book in my MATT JACOB MYSTERY NOVELS this coming fall, I chose to rerun JUDGING A BOOK By ITS COVER because Michael Paul Smith is not only a dear friend but an amazing artist who will create the cover for TIES. If you enjoyed the first three covers, there’s no doubt how you’ll feel about his fourth.        


cover1On 08/22/2011, I wrote a post titled “PHOTO SHOT” where I described the process of shooting the cover for STILL AMONG THE LIVING (which is available for downloading along with TWO WAY TOLL, and NO SAVING GRACE). What I didn’t write about was the process of choosing among a number of different possible covers and how the choice was made to go with the one I did.

The artist, Michael Paul Smith, was kind enough to give me permission to post those that we didn’t use along with the one we did. So I thought it might be fun to let people see the ones we decided not to use and why those decisions were made. The first two we, (Sue, Michael, and me), were easily able to lay aside.

Although we rejected both of these, one thing I really liked was the angle of the picture primarily because it showed Mark Harris’s book THE SOUTHPAW. On the other hand there was general agreement that in these versions the colors didn’t “pop,” my name and “A Matt Jacob Novel” were too washed out.  And no one really liked the lettering.




The next two engendered more debate:

This one’s lettering took too much of the picture of the table, plus the lettering itself didn’t cut it for any of us.







I really liked the font on the second of these two—given my deco predilections—but Sue and Michael felt the picture wasn’t what they were looking for since there was too much of the table itself showing, especially the brown pattern, which took the focus off the other elements of the picture and again, my name and “A Matt Jacob Novel” were too washed out—though I argued if we lettered them white on this one, I’d be good with it.  Sue and Michael countered that once we cropped the picture the proportions of the whole cover would change.

Alas, these were also put aside though they left the one I liked in its own lonely pile.

Here were two were serious contenders.  No hour and out with these. In fact, both of them made it to the final pick. The fonts worked, the lines on the bottom of this one worked, though again we were going to have to pop my name and “A Matt Jacob Novel,” something that Michael indicated would be no problem.





I, however, had an issue with this one. The left side shading on the picture seemed cool, and I liked the two-tone idea much more than the lines on the cover directly above. Yet I felt the shading seemed too washed out. By this time, however, I was feeling uncomfortable about sending Michael back to the boards.  He assured me that he was enjoying the project and would certainly be willing to give it another go.



Which he did and created the cover we all agreed upon:

Although THE SOUTHPAW doesn’t really show, everything else about this cover was appealing.  And so, when the book does go online, this is what you’ll be seeing.

Given that this entire process is pretty damn subjective, I’d be interested to know what choices any of you might have made.

6 thoughts on “DO OVER

  1. Definitely the one you chose. It pops and all the elements work together. Thanks for letting us see the process…

    • Georgia–Thank you for continuing to follow the posts. Next week I’m going to announce that the column will go dark until September. Want to use the time to really bear down on the 4th Matt Jacob and virtually no one is reading it now anyway–pesent company excluded. And it will be fun to create the 4th cover.

  2. Fascinating… definitely the one you all agreed on. Graphic design is full of psychology, which is just fun to play with. Until the final copy I didn’t notice the two little blue pills and it looks like numbers maybe in the same shade of blue that make a gorgeous pattern coming down from the gun barrel to the ‘l’ in Still. Kind of art deco itself. And the lettering in the final choice trumps it… That made me go back and look at the whole design more carefully. Thank you so much for showing this process.

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