Picking a book cover.

I've chosen the book cover to The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders.

This isn't as easy as it looks. Generally, a cover artist will give you several options. I try to trust my first instinct. The "Blink" moment. But the more you think about it, the harder it gets.

Years ago, I watched a documentary about a book cover artist (sadly, I don't remember who) and it showed the process of a publisher telling the artist what they wanted and then messing with it.

Almost always, the original cover by the artist was the artistic highpoint, after which the publisher mucks it up. Makes it too cluttered, throws off the design, just generally dumbs it down.

I swore if I was ever in the same position that I would listen to the artist.

Of course, it isn't that easy. First of all, the artist will throw it back at you, "Which do YOU like?" But they will generally give off signals of which ones they like.

I'm more sympathetic about the publishers now. What's happening is that you are often presented with an artistic vision that may not be as utilitarian as something else that isn't quite as artistic.

I read somewhere that sometimes the worse commercials are the best at selling product and the most artistic commercials are the worst. Heh.

The cover artist for several of my books is Mike Corley, who is a well-established and respected cover artist who happens to live in Bend and is a customer of mine. When I apologized for making him make so many small changes, he told the story of how he often spends months with a publisher mucking about, only to have the publisher come to him at the last moment and say, "You know that first cover you showed us? Let's do that."

Ironically, that's pretty much what I did this time around. The choice came down to the original two choices, with very few changes. The first choice was probably more utilitarian -- easily read title, etc -- but as Mike pointed out, the title is right there in print alongside the thumbnail picture.  The second cover was probably more elegant and that's the one I ended up choosing.

Anyway, the choice has been made. I'm hoping to have this out in mid-January.