Voting Results: THE SURFER eBook Jacket Selection Poll

First, thanks to all those who participated. The TMiK Board of Electors worked many late evenings to compile the results of the eBook Jacket Selection Poll.  And the winner is…#4, with 29% of the vote!

1. Jacket#4      29%
2. Jacket#5      24%
3. Jacket#2      20%
4. Jacket#1      18%
5. Jacket#3         7%
6. BonusJacket  2%

I dove into the cover project by unearthing some of my Hawaiian and Taiwanese photos (few things satisfy me more than watching big waves crash), then exploring the creative possibilities of Photoshop. I must report an intense love affair with this software.

Looking back, my approach to the covers was fairly cinematic. There is a lot of nature in the story — the ocean, lava, gravity — and I wanted the cover to reflect natural power, danger and beauty.  Strong nature, with hints of foreboding and the unhinged consciousness of Walter, the story’s protagonist.  A jacket represents a piece of writing, so there must be a balance between showing aspects of the story and leaving a sense of mystery. It’s an advertisement (in my mind Don Draper and Peggy Olson of Mad Men debated the merits of each cover: Peggy, to the consumer is a wave just a wave,?). My art normally gravitates toward big color and visual impact, and I muted this instinct somewhat. But I also wanted to flaunt certain rules and push artistic boundaries with the form.

The hushed chrome and simplicity of #4, the ultimate winner, won over many voters. It also received several tweet endorsements.  To me, there is something vaguely Scandinavian to its look. It has a definite “book covery” feel.

I was surprised #5 got as many votes as it did. It uses a posterizing effect and some freehand painting and fonting to achieve a psychedelic poster look. Seems like a cover done for Tom Wolfe in the 60’s. A jumbo jet veers crazily into the foreground from another dimension. A look I expect voters either found cool or garish, with nothing in between. In its favor it is a bold visual and on a shelf it would pull in eyes.

Jacket#2 is a grainy photo which captures the power of a wave, but from the perspective of shattering rocks. #2 received several personal endorsements as well. It’s simplicity seems suited to a book jacket. It has a 70’s paperback feel.

Jacket #1 has a dark symmetry, a kind of compositional purity I like.  The photo reminds me of Ansel Adams: the wave has a Yosemite Valley curve. The surfer up on the board contrasts with the head bobbing in the surf. It reflects both sides of Walter’s experience.

The pop art aesthetic of #3 and it’s literal nature seemed to fall flat with voters (purely as a stand alone piece it’s one of my favorites; imagine it twelve feet high on a gallery wall). I learned from the Poll that many people have rather strict expectations from book cover art. Defying these expectations one risks the rejection of readers.

The Bonus Jacket went for a subtle, abstract feel, which has been in vogue the last decade or so. It uses three illustrations torn from airline emergency cards. It wasn’t quite fair to the Bonus I introduced it late, but it has its supporters.

So, you will find #4 on the cover of the Amazon.com edition of The Surfer. Due to the significant support shown for other covers, I am considering using one or more of them on other sites. Thanks again people. Ciao.

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About robbskidmore88

Robb Skidmore writes upmarket fiction. He is the author of “The Pursuit of Cool”, a critically acclaimed coming-of-age novel about love, music, and the 80s, and the novella “The Surfer.” His short stories have appeared in many publications. When not writing, he enjoys traveling, finding music for his iPod, and staring at the sky with wonder and appreciation.
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