Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

No accountin’ for taste …

Front cover small

Go ahead … make my day.

I completely forgot that I had submitted the cover of Town Father to a popular website on all-things self-publishing, featuring an arbiter of cover design excellence who is apparently making a living as such. This was back in March. Well, I recently stumbled upon the comments said arbiter of design made about each submission that month.

I introduced the cover like this:

“My designer, Max Scratchmann of Edinburgh, Scotland, did a remarkable job here in making the cover look like an old, well-worn vintage book. Paper folds are visible, along with a taped-over tear in the dust jacket.”

Said arbiter of design excellence:

“Yes, that’s all lovely, but the cover lacks the kind of impact it would need to sell in today’s world.”

Hey, thanks.

You should see the cover that won the contest that month. Oy. And the covers that do have “the kind of impact needed to sell in today’s world”?

Three words: NMT.

(Naked male torsos.)

Sorry. I love the cover of Town Father, and I stand by it and by Max Scratchmann, my main Scratchmann.

14 comments on “No accountin’ for taste …

  1. John W. Howell
    August 30, 2016

    I do too.

  2. 1WriteWay
    August 30, 2016

    Oh, please, what kind of comment is “the cover lacks the kind of impact it would need to sell in today’s world.”????? If the “arbiter” is correct, then to h*ll with “today’s world.” As an arbiter of excellence in all things literary ( ;)), I prefer the imagination and beauty of a Max Scratchmann cover than one with naked male torsos any day! Seriously!

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 30, 2016

      Yeah, I found it mighty lame. Glad he didn’t see the hardback cover for Parts Unknown! (A world of brown …)

  3. pinklightsabre
    August 30, 2016

    I stand by Scratchmann too. Eff them. “Make it in today’s world.” Eff today’s world and the cover you rode in. I think it’s terribly cool as is Occasional Soulmates.

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 30, 2016

      Yeah. I’ll pass on today’s world if that’s the way it is …

  4. The Opening Sentence
    August 31, 2016

    I think the cover would stand out against the ones that ‘make an impact.’ Haven’t seen one like it anywhere else. Arbiter of Design Opinion is a household name is he?

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 31, 2016

      Thanks! That’s what I like about Max’s work. He does things you don’t see elsewhere, so they, by definition, “stand out.” Duh!

  5. Audrey Driscoll
    August 31, 2016

    I know the site, and often scroll through the monthly cover design submissions, especially since I’m designing my own covers for 3 short pieces I plan to publish soon. (No point in spending big or even small bucks on little projects). I don’t always agree with the comments, though. I love the antiqued look of your cover. It reminds me of a now superseded version of one of mine that had a sepia photograph with a rusty paperclip mark and some suspicious stains. BTW, apropos of those naked male torsos, have you noticed that at first glance they have an uneasy resemblance to scorpions or similar bugs? Off-putting, is my assessment.

    • Kevin Brennan
      August 31, 2016

      I don’t always agree with the comments either, and I do have to admit I’ve seen some nice covers there. It’s just that they don’t seem to win.

      I can’t abide the male torsos ever since I saw “Iggy Pop’s torso face is sad.” Look it up at your own risk …

      • Audrey Driscoll
        August 31, 2016

        Eww. The face thing is pretty gross, but the torso itself is real, unlike the over-pumped creations on so many book covers. Those ab muscles look like part of something segmented to me. Aliens from Planet Steroid?

      • Kevin Brennan
        August 31, 2016

        I’m with you. I don’t know what the appeal is. Looks more like furniture than part of a human.

  6. cinthiaritchie
    August 31, 2016

    I’m so damned sick of seeing covers with NMTs in my Facebook and Twitter feeds. WTF, eh? It’s mostly a way of hiding shoddy writing with a “look at me!” cover. And unfortunately, groves of horny young, and middle-aged, women bite and buy these damned books. I think they all have crappy sex lives and are trying to compensate. Sorry if I sound harsh but really, most of the torso models are young enough to be my son and that’s just kind of icky to me.
    P.S. I’ve always loved the “Town Father” cover.

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