Don’t Judge a Book… “BUY” It’s Cover

So here’s a fun wrinkle about publishing that they don’t teach you in school…

Most people judge books by their covers.

Crazy, I know.

In spite of countless warnings from parents, teachers, librarians, and well-meaning literature nerds around the world, it turns out that the cover image of a book can make a really big difference in whether or not the title ends up selling by the boatload or collecting dust on a shelf. Even in the era of Amazon-based book sales, turns out many folks make snap decisions on which products to pick up based on little more information than the title of a publication and how visually appealing the tiny thumbnail images appear when users slide down their display screens with a vertical scroll past them at like a hundred pictures a minute.

Long story short: the cover art matters. Like, a lot.

Ultimately, the front of any book will be handled by a graphic designer (or a team of them). Thankfully, some companies like my publisher, Dave Burgess Consulting, are super “author friendly” in allowing authors some direct input regarding their likes and preferences for cover art. And so today, I wanted to share some ideas I’d been geeking out over in communications back and forth with the design team as we enter the final stages of cover art design for EDRENALINE RUSH!

Here’s a few cover ideas that I *LOVE*:

Image result for the art cure

The Art Cure – Bridgette Mayer
Absolutely love the sharp, crisp pop of these bold, block letters against the explosion of color. Gives such an incredible feeling of excitement! The splatter onto the spine is an excellent touch to create a sense of boundless energy that can’t even be contained on a single page. I think that the overall visual of this exploding color is captivating.

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

The Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe – WWE
It’s been more than a quarter century since the heyday of on one of professional wrestling’s most colorful heroes, The Ultimate Warrior. But thanks to pop culture’s perpetual fascination with all things “retro,” it feels like the 80’s and 90’s are suddenly super cool all over again. And so I love the idea of channeling my inner “Warrior” with a cover design that channels the same excitement and intensity of this DVD box set. Check out that color explosion! Lightning and neon colors blasting feel like limitless blasts of unbridled energy. Fun!

Image result for making the climb book

Making the Climb: What a Novice Climber Learned About Life on Mount Kilimanjaro – John C. Bowling
Totally different direction: but I how even though this design is super minimal, it still shouts “attitude.” Check out the splatters of mud, which leave a powerful “WHAM” of an imprint in a book that gives you everything you need to know with a simple and striking image. In the blink of an idea, I know I’m in for a story of mud, sweat, and tackling all sorts of fears. Very cool visual way to tell the story of an action packed adventure.


Edrenaline BookHere’s a muddy, messy, mashup, mock-up of some concept cover art that will in no way be hitting the shelves of bookstores near you. It’s the earliest stages of a design idea I slapped together in Google Slides. And I offer it here not as a final product (still waaaay too busy, and the subtitle is almost impossible to read) — but rather as a sneak peek into the general feeling I’m trying to convey. Love the idea of mud flying up everywhere. I think the splatter and flecks all over the place shout “excitement.”

Pops of bold orange and neon green feel energetic to me without coming across as too “brutal.” Basically, I’m trying to avoid making the mud run elements and escape room stuff feel like a torturous prison or military boot camp, if that makes any sense.

The general theme that’s emerging from all of these ideas? Action, adventure, splatters, excitement. Like a good classroom! Because real learning should be MESSY.

Very much looking forward to seeing what the design professionals come up with over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Author: John

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project, after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader, and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. He is a past presenter and regular attendee at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower19, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports summer conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races. John lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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