Thursday, April 3, 2014

An Outskirts Press author wants help with a book cover. OK, I'll help.

There's a growing trend to involve prospective book purchasers in the production of the book.
  • Friends and relatives evaluate possible titles.
  • Beta readers suggest dropping or moving paragraphs or chapters.
  • Complete strangers with no experience in publishing or design vote on possible covers.
Roy Albert Andrade (above) is a new novelist. His debut work, Cultivating the DNA of Crime, may be worthy of a Pulitzer or a Nobel prize. I don't know because there are apparently no samples of his novel on either of his two websites or on his Facebook page or blog. He is missing a big opportunity to attract book buyers. This is like having a store window that shows no merchandise.

Roy is a customer of Outskirts Press and is using the Outskirts Press blog to conduct a poll. The blog says,
"he wants your help [in] deciding his book cover." Sadly (and not unexpectedly), Roy did not get appropriate and needed help from Outskirts.

I voted -- and I learned that more than 2/3rds of voters disagreed with me. The total numbers were not revealed, only percentages.

However, I think that both designs are bad and the title is terrible.
  1. "Cultivating" is probably one of the three least-exciting words in the English language. It does not belong in the title of a crime novel. Genetic researchers cultivate DNA, but their work is not part of this book. The title would be more exciting without "Cultivating."
  2. The back cover says, "Killer is his name. Crime is his game." That would make a much more powerful title, especially along with "He's 13 years old."
  3. The front cover has a complimentary blurb from someone identified as "Boxer Alex Garcia." The book is not about boxing. I don't follow boxing but could probably name ten boxers and Alex Garcia is not one of them. He is no Mohammed Ali or Mike Tyson. If we've never heard of him, why should we assume he knows anything about books? Would Garcia recognize a "literary masterpiece" if it hit him in the jaw? If you can't get a meaningful blurb, do without a blurb.
  4. The blurb needs a comma between "Tarantino" and "part."
  5. Unless the blurber is really famous or good-looking keep the blurber's portrait off the book. The author is trying to borrow fame from someone with little fame to lend. (Garcia is in Wikipedia, however.)
  6. The subtitle on the reddish cover is set in all uppercase type. That's a no-no, especially for lots of words and also especially in a serif typeface. The title on the yellowish cover is particularly hard to read.
  7. Even though I disapprove of the word "cultivating," if it has to be used, the cover designer should have kerned the "V," "A" and "T." Sloppy, sloppy.
  8. "Thirteen Year Old" on the front cover should be hyphenated. Even if the author and designer did not know this, an editor at Outskirts should have noticed. Of course, since Outskirts is notoriously sloppy (and sleazy), I would not expect any of the staff to notice the error or care to fix it. Strangely, the back cover has the same phrase, properly hyphenated.
  9. The bottoms of the spines and bottoms of the back covers have the word "K1LLER" spelled with a one instead of an "i." Is this deliberate or an error? If it's deliberate, why? 
  10. (left-click to enlarge)

  11. Oh -- now I know why. With a bit of detective work I determined that Roy's website address is -- a terribly confusing designation. The website is incomplete, has irrelevant images and has suspiciously high numbers of Facebook likes and visitors.
  12. A site visitor counter, by the way, is amateurish and has been out of fashion for about 20 years.The two useless videos showed me ads for iUniverse -- a competitor of Roy's publisher. Sloppy.
  13. Roy tells us that "Roy Albert Andrade's published novels will be sold in three continents through online and brick-and-mortar book stores." Why won't they be sold online on all of the continents? The Internet functions worldwide.
  15. Roy has a linked website that's similarly confusing and incomplete. Its home page carries the designation "homes," which made me think that Roy is in the real estate business (or maybe he likes to be addressed as "homes"). He identifies himself as a "Book Publisher," but there is nothing on the site to reinforce that claim.
  17. Roy's Facebook page has a disturbing and poorly made video. Comments include "
    What in the world did i just watch" and "apa an tuh ?? wahh ?? ZZzz tapi asik hehe :d"
  18. It's strange to have that word "K1LLER" at the bottom the book's spine. That's normally where a publisher's logo goes. If it's an effort to identify the author's website, the "one" should be in a contrasting color and there should be a "dot com" after the word.
  19. On the back cover we learn that "Killer" lives in a two-story house. So what? Does the height of a house have anything to do with the book's plot? I've lived in several two-story houses and did not become a killer (at least not yet).
  20. In the second paragraph on the back, "analysis" would be a better term than "point of view."
  21. The author's bio on the back cover provides absolutely no reason to buy the book. Should we care where Roy was born or that he has an associates degree with concentrations [sic] in business. Does the year of his graduation imply anything important? His degree is from the University of Phoenix, a for-profit institution with a poor reputation. Roy may have learned a lot at Phoenix, but it's not Yale and should not be mentioned as part of an effort to get potential readers to spend money.
  22. The bio mentions the book's title, which should be in italics.
  23. The author's photo shows him looking out of the cockpit of a helicopter. Roy has a very distracting cranial tattoo and a big, brightly colored headset. He is not identified as a pilot and apparently the helicopter is apparently not part of the book's plot. A simpler portrait would be much better.
  24. The book is classified as "FICTION/sagas." We are told the book is "humorous." Wouldn't "Fiction/Humor" be more effective?
(left-click to enlarge)

(left-click to enlarge)
So, what's the big lesson to be derived from this blog post?
  • Author's should not expect the help they need from perpetually pathetic Outskirts Press. Outskirts frequently produces books of embarrassingly poor quality. Stay away.

1 comment:

  1. This is cringeworthy and probably much more humorous than CULTIVATING THE DNA OF CRIME. I feel embarrassed for Roy.