There are millions of authors out there writing billions of books.
There are likewise thousands of advisors, consultants, and design specialists out there who pound into our groggy brains the absolute necessity of having "just-the-right" cover to entice a prospective buyer to snatch your book from the shelf and rush to the nearest cash register (or card scanner, if you're not of my generation).
In looking over the hundreds of flashy paperback covers lining the shelves of my favorite book seller, I'm struck by the seemingly infinite variations in designs and imagery available to authors and publishers. And most seem to embody as least some of the seductive powers that their designers seek. Closer examination, however, often fails to reveal any close connection between the cover and the subject matter or plot enclosed therein.
Yes, shocking, blazing, or exploding cover imagery will quickly attract the eye, but I always feel a bit let-down when a page riffle reveals a plot centered around an overdue library book. And there's no doubt that every straight man in the world is instantly interested in the unclothed female body, but one expects the contents under such a cover to be more than a description of life in an iron foundry.
I was determined that my covers should depict some direct symbol of the plot of the story, and, if possible, of memorable scenes from the story. Since I had a lot of trouble finding stock images to fit my ideas, I was forced to try photographing some subjects myself. Let's just say, I'm a better writer than a photographer. In any case, all four of my books are in covers with imagery which is directly tailored to the plot of the novel. The assembly and formatting I gladly left to the professionals, and am very happy that I did so.
In my next blog, I plan to discuss the covers used in my Ben Hunnicutt series of novels, why I chose the imagery, how it connects, and the fun and frustrations involved.
Well, seems appropriate to celebrate the release of my latest book by announcing it on my new blog. The Last Kill is my favorite of the four-- I was able to pull in some of the characters I met in the three previous novels, and to introduce several more that will probably pop up in the next one. One of the dangers inherent in bringing in interesting side characters is the probability that the author will like them too much, and may give them too much play. In LK, I paired a leathery old mountain recluse with a perky California-bred lady artist; now I have to decide which will change the other, and how it may fit into the next Ben Hunnicutt novel.
I also brought in a young college professor who lived and worked on a remote mining claim during his summers. I'm sure Ben will find a use for him during his next adventure.
I'm still casting around for a plot for the next novel, but with only the shadow of an idea. I generally first figure out how I'm going to get rid of the bad guys in the end, then map out the plot so it leads to the desired result. So I reckon I need to do some research and find a new and unique means of achieving justice.
Hi, I am Don Neal, author of the series Ben Hunnicutt. Here on my blog you will find excerpts of my books, as well as beautiful and interesting pictures of Alaska. I will also be including short non-fiction stories of Alaska adventures and happenings! Hope to hear from you - enjoy!
Ben Hunnicutt encounters a bit of war, a bit of peace, a little time in a Japanese Geisha house, a week at an exclusive Alaska fishing lodge, a bit of stumbling around in the mountains, and a very interesting bear.
The fourth book in the Ben Hunnicutt series, “The Last Kill”, Ben has left Alaska and “Operation Washtub” to continue his interrupted journey to the battlefields of Korea. It is 1953; both sides have emerged from a frigid winter of slugging it out on a line near the 38th parallel while endless peace negotiations drone on at a small camp at Panmunjom. Ben sees his fair share of battle, broken by a brief interlude in Japan which plays an important part in his later life.
A wound sends him back to the States just as the war ends in July 1953, and he serves out the remainder of his twenty years never having the good fortune to be again assigned to Alaska. Upon retirement in 1967 he keeps a promise to himself and moves to Anchorage, at last able to explore the state which so fascinated him on his first visit.
In 1972, retired and at leisure, he is mysteriously contacted by an intelligence officer that he befriended while on R & R in Japan during the Korean war. The Vietnam War is in full swing, and the stability of the South Vietnamese government is being threatened by a large-scale sacking of the nation’s treasury. The stolen gold is apparently being smuggled to mining operations in Alaska where it is “laundered” and converted to cash. Ben is asked to ferret out the rogue miners so the government can move in and return the looted gold to the treasury of South Vietnam. As usual, the task is more complex and more dangerous than it seems. Ben must call on some of his offbeat friends to see him through.