The Daily Journal, Monday, August 19

In today’s Journal

* Slow start today
* Topic: Some Basic Tenets of Cover Design
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers

Slow start today as I’m still worn out from the wonderful trek Dan and I had around southeast Arizona yesterday. Weird. We didn’t do a lot. Mostly we were driving, stopping now and then to take photos. But I could easily spend today doing nothing at all.

I had hoped to find some new cover-pics, but no luck there. However, I did find a whole town full of cover-pic opportunities (Douglas, Arizona). I will revisit that town before too long, probably in a day trip. Or two. Or three.

I’ll research the town online first (saves gasoline) to identify places I want to visit. Then, to both save weekdays for writing and to include Mona in the trip(s) south (if she wants to go) I’ll plan my photo trips for the weekends.

Topic: Some Basic Tenets of Cover Design

I find cover design another entertaining creative outlet. It’s fun, and desiging a great cover isn’t all that difficult. (See my own covers at

But even if you know you will never design your own covers, this stuff is good to know. Not all alleged cover designers know it all either. And most of them don’t know your story, genre, etc.

First and foremost, use a background (usually a cover photo is a good idea) that reflects the sense or tone or theme of the genre.

Covers for various genres change every few years, so my best advice re the background or “base” of your cover is to bring up a list of Amazon (or other) bestsellers and study the covers. Study the background (often a photo), the fonts and font sizes, and so on.

Are the colors of the covers dark in general? Bright in general? If they’re dark, is there a light source (focal point to draw the eye, like the end of a tunnel, etc.) on most of them? Is the light source centered or slightly off-centered?

Are there people (or a person) on the covers or not?

If your cover features a human from a side or three-quarter view, it’s better to have the human off-centered toward the spine of the book and facing the open side of the book. If the character is gesturing, it’s a good idea to have the character gesturing toward the open side of the book. (A subliminal invitation to open the book.)

Are the covers “busy” with a lot of elements or not too busy? (Some more “cutesy” genres have busy covers. Most novels in most genres do not.)

You aren’t studying the covers because they’re bestsellers. You’re studying them because they were enticing enough to cause enough readers to buy the books that they became bestsellers.

Study the fonts too.

Are the fonts “stressed” in any way? Italicized? Outlined (even very faintly to make them “pop” off the cover)? Serif or sans-serif? What is the color of the font in relation to the cover photo?

In general, the fonts should be plain and clear to read even in thumbnail size. Being clear to read goes to both a clean font and a large font size.

Tip 1: Most often, the font will reflect a color that’s found elsewhere in the cover.

Tip 2: If you decide to go ALL CAPS with your title or author name, it’s usually a good idea to put two spaces instead of one between the capitalized words. (If the resulting space appears too wide, decrease the font size of the spaces while leaving the font size of the letters the same. Yes, you can do that.)

Study the title compared with the author name. Usually (not always) the author name will be in a slightly smaller font but the outer edges will be aligned with the outer edges of the title (or vice versa).

It’s a good idea to make the title and author name the same font and the same font style (all caps, small caps, or regular capitalization).

While you’re there, study the book description and the cover blurbs. The better ones are active, written in present tense with strong action verbs. They hint at the theme of the book but divulge nothing. They offer one or no plot points. (This happened, then this happened, then this happened… plot points make for weak and boring blurbs.)

The first thing the prospective reader sees is your cover and the title. The second, most often, is the blurb or blurbs. If all of that is enticing, the third is the author name. Then they’ll “see inside” or, if it’s a physical book, crack it open and read a few paragraphs.

Writing the story to the best of your ability is the most important thing. But secondary to that, if you want your book to attract readers, you have to put a good cover on it.

Rolled out at 3 this morning. Today I have some catching up to do with “Of Interest.” I’m anxious to get back to writing my novel, but I’ll probably put that off until tomorrow. If I do write any fiction later today, I’ll include in in tomorrow’s count.

I know I can’t get everything done at once, so I’m consciously taking my time and prioritizing what I need to do today. By tomorrow, barring any unforeseen occurrences, I should be back to normal.

I started working my way through my to-do list, reading and then posting articles for “Of Interest.” Then I wrote the stuff above.

The rest of the day I’m going to work on my camera to get it up to speed for taking high-quality cover pics. I might also drive to the store, things like that.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

Need a story prompt? See “Found: A Stash of Mystical Charms and Amulets in Pompeii” at

See “Is a ‘Personal Relationship’ with Authors What Readers Want?” at What a great post! I’ve never believed in bombarding readers with anything but good stories.

See also “Marketing has changed…” at

See “How to Create Characters” at

See “How to Sell eBooks at Cons and Book Festivals” at

See “The Four Bios Every Author Needs” at

See “Book Promotion as a Public Service” at

From Karen Riggs, “14 Neil Gaiman Quotes for Writers and About Writing” at

See “Why You Need to Make a ‘When I Die’ File—Before It’s Too Late” at This was from Kris’s latest Patreon post, but I don’t think she’d mind me sharing it.

If you’re a creative nonfiction type, see “15 Paying Creative Nonfiction Markets Now Seeking Submissions” at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1120 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 1120

Writing of Blackwell Ops 7: Glen Marco (novel)

Day 1…… 3222 words. Total words to date…… 3222
Day 2…… 1170 words. Total words to date…… 4392
Day 3…… 3191 words. Total words to date…… 7583
Day 4…… 1374 words. Total words to date…… 8957
Day 5…… 1952 words. Total words to date…… 10909
Day 6…… 1021 words. Total words to date…… 11930
Day 7…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 11930
Total fiction words for the year………… 370667
Total nonfiction words for the month… 19870
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 237940
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 608607

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 2
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 195
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31