Choosing a book cover

This was the original HC cover. Admittedly this was issued almost 15 years ago, but even then it had a retro feel.

OK, folks, now I really, really need your help. I’m planning on launching my back catalogue in the US market, via the Kindle and all that. I’ll talk at some point about how I find that whole experience, but for now – covers.

Obviously, a strong cover is fantastically important. Some of my books have had stellar covers. (Take a bow, Orion.) Some of my books have had, erp, covers. And never, not in 15 years of publishing, have I ever, as an author, had a meaningful say in what cover goes in my book.

Say what you like about self-pub, but the sense of being in control is just lovely.

Now, I’m OK with photoshop, but I’m no design wizard. I also didn’t just want to commission a single design from a pro, because that way you end up with something competent but maybe not inspired. So I threw the mighty sum of £339 at a site called 99designs, which encourages designers round the world to compete for the contract on offer. And overall, I have to say, I’m very impressed. A lot of the designs, maybe most, looked quite self-pub, but some are really strong. Different interpretations of the same brief, but nevertheless real contenders.

And I need YOU to pick a winner.

The book: My first novel, The Money Makers. It’s a fun romp that pits three brothers against each other in the race to make a million pounds. It’s like Jeffrey Archer, essentially, except that my prose won’t make your gums hurt. Full description on the book on here.

The feel: it’s a family saga, in essence, and old-fashioned in the sense that there’s no adventure-through-violence. People who like Archer or Sidney Sheldon or Ken Follett would like this stuff.

The designs. You can view the six leading design options right here right now – and rate what you see. You can leave comments on the polling site, or you can hit me with it below.

I will probably pick the winner based on the results of this poll, then commission that same designer to work up similar designs for the rest of my back catalogue, so this is quite a  big deal for me and your intelligence and help will be MUCH appreciated.

I might also ask, later on, whether you prefer the cover that my £339 came up with, or the one that HarperCollins, my original publisher, came up with. It’ll also be interesting to see how a novel which never found a US publisher fares in that market some 15 years after its first release. Interesting also to see if I know the first damn thing about e-selling books. (Clue: the correct answer involves two letters, and begins with N.)

These are interesting times, no question. I’d love to see what you think.

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  • Very tough. I can see why you left it to us to decide!

    38 is strong, like an update of your original. Screams blockbuster. 117 and 19 are also both contenders, with a hint of atmosphere and story that seem lacking in the three on the right. Possibly there’s too much going on in 19. Parchment yellow colouring to suggest a long-buried secret, the indifferent back of a be-suited mystery man, piles of coins and an American cityscape. So I’ll go for 117. Like the cold blue colouring but I’d probably lose the coins, which look a little slot machine, as well as the line dividing title and your name.

    Hope that’s useful.


  • Good idea….I might try them myself in due course.
    No. 99 does it for me, it’s clear, unambiguous. No. 19 would be second choice, and I agree with the comment above. Maybe lose the person and keep it to the city skyline and the coins.

  • Michael Richardson

    Number 140 does it for me as I think the others are all a bit to American.
    Now I know it’s the American market you’re aiming for, but if I bought a James Patterson book for example and it had a more European cover, but was set in America, I might feel a bit cheated.
    Well there it is.
    Oh. And I’m quite patriotic.
    Good Luck.

  • Number 99 and 165 look a bit self-pub to me. 38 a bit boring. Favourite is 19 though agree that maybe too much going on. Could lose the coins as the skyline of the City tells us enough. Second favourite is 140 – very straightforward but still find number 19 most intriguing.

    Let us know how you get on!

  • I’d go for 19 if it could be simplified a little – lose either the person or the coins. Also it looks like a design which could be adapted quite effectively to your other books. 140 and 165 don’t actually tell me that this book is a novel – it could just as easily be an economics textbook.

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