Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

If you have ever tried writing a book or maybe a long letter, or even a multi-page report; anything that takes many sessions, then you will understand when I say “I’m back!”  I go through these spells where I just can’t write.  I would like to, but it just isn’t happening.  The pattern is identifiable to me now.  It starts with anger.  This can be almost anything.  As little as my favorite team losing (which most of my favorite teams do a lot), or politics, or wet heavy snow that has to be shoveled—you can see the trend; it is life.

Something will get me out of my writing rhythm, and I can’t get back.  I try.  It’s not fun to be a writer and not be able to write.  What follows is a period of time where all ideas on the next chapter are absolutely stupid.  The effort becomes a farce.  Sentences are impossible.  A single word is like pulling teeth.

I have just lived through one of those spells.  It has been months since I have written anything on my book projects.  My latest book, Durango Two Step, is the fourth book in the Vincent Malone series.  I started that book during a high energy period and had the first few chapters in a very short amount of time.  I had also done an extensive outline and had the overall plot.  But then life struck.  Don’t remember the exact cause, but no doubt something silly.  No writing for months. 

Just as the blackout came on unexpectedly, so did the light.  I’m writing again.  Yippee!


Durango Two Step takes place in Durango (duh!) which is located in southwest Colorado.  It’s a touristy place with a narrow gauge railroad that travels from Durango through the mountains to Silverton.  The scenery is magnificent.  The train ride is okay, but still it is a ride on an old train.  The fascination is, of course, that it is an old train and with only a little imagination you could find yourself thinking about the same trip in the 1870s.  But comfort is not necessarily a main feature of the adventure.  If you are ever in that part of the world I would highly recommend a visit to Durango; a very interesting place with lots of great restaurants.


Also I have been spending time working with a designer to re-do the book covers for The Muckraker Series.  The first book Murder So Wrong originally had a red cover with a capitol building.  After the book was released I decided I didn’t like that cover and a new one was designed.  Both old covers are below and the new (improved?) cover the last one.

This discussion is not to try and get you to buy these books—you should wait until the new re-edited editions with the new covers come out—probably in a few weeks.  This is about the process of picking book covers.  Most indie authors sell their books on-line (Amazon, B-N, Kobo, Apple and others), so book covers are small images that potential buyers will only glance at, but the cover is a very important piece of the marketing puzzle.  Will a book sell better with a great cover—obviously the answer to that question is: Yes!  Do we know what makes a great cover—NO. 

Sure there are people who claim to have this knowledge about what is good and bad about these little images.  But I doubt you could prove one theory over another.  There are many elements that drive sales of on-line books; descriptions, reviews, advertising/marketing, price, author’s ranking and many more.  To isolate just the cover would be difficult.  Even with that said the cover obviously does have some impact; maybe a lot. 

There is a whole industry marketing services to indie authors.  One of those services is cover designs.  I have seen prices from $100 (the example of the covers on this web site showed some great looking covers for only $100? —looked too good to be true) to high-end services for thousands.  Typical prices are $350 to $650 for both an e-book and paperback cover.  I would not argue with the value of the “typical” prices, but trying to select the right designer is mostly guess work.  Because the covers are so small on-line, usually bold titles and limited detail is necessary.  But what’s a good, bad or great cover is just one person’s opinion.  The ultimate judge would be if you could isolate book sales based on the cover, but you can’t; so it just speculation.

I have redesigned the book covers (and re-edited the books) to improve the books generally, but to more importantly improve sales.  That would be the ultimate test did the new covers increase sales.  I will be testing that over the next few months as these new covers are released and promoted.  After a few months I will report back the results and maybe then determine if there was an impact or if it was just shuffling of the deck chairs.


Blog direction.  Since its inception this blog has been about writing, indie books and the process of producing/marketing those books—it will continue to be.  However, a new direction will focus on the locations of those stories.  My books take place in the southwest United States and the general region.  This includes New Mexico, Colorado and Oklahoma. 

The Bootlegger’s Legacy takes place in Oklahoma, El Paso, Texas, New Mexico and Juarez, Mexico.

Pacheco & Chino Series takes place in New Mexico and El Paso, Texas.

Muckraker Series takes place in Oklahoma.

Vincent Malone Series takes place in New Mexico and Colorado.

I will feature in future blogs specific places in these areas with special attention to food including favorites restaurants and places to stay if visiting.  Hope you occasionally enjoy reading about these places and their attractions.  (And, yes this may just be a way for me to deduct travel expenses as business costs but don’t tell anyone.)

Thanks for being a reader!

Published by

tedcliftonbooks

Ted Clifton, award winning author, is currently writing in three mystery series—Pacheco & Chino Mystery series, the Muckraker Mystery series and the Vincent Malone series. Clifton’s focus is on strong character development with unusual backdrops. His books take place in Southwest settings with some of his stories happening in the 1960s, 1980s and current times. The settings are places Clifton has lived and knows well, giving great authenticity to his narratives. Clifton has received the IBPA Benjamin Franklin award and the CIPA EVVY award--twice. Today Clifton and his wife reside in Denver, Colorado, with frequent visits to one of their favorite destinations, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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