Wednesday, April 20, 2016

David S. Atkinson Talks About Cover for 'Not Quite So Stories'

Authors often have a lot less control over cover design than many people think. I've gotten lucky with my three books in that my publishers have wanted my thoughts and input, and actually listened to them.

For my first book, Bones Buried in the Dirt, I had a concept of an image but not an exact image to use. I explained my idea to my publisher, what I was thinking and exactly what I wanted it to convey and how, and she went out and found the perfect image to license. I was very happy and she made sure of that before going forward.

My second book, The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes, was similar. I had less of a concept in mind already, but I talked with the publisher about what I wanted it to convey and we came up with an idea. Then he actually commissioned an artist to do an oil painting of it. The artist did several mock up pictures, letting my publisher and I make comments and suggestions before we finally approved. Only then did the artist do the oil painting. Again, my publisher made sure I was happy before we finalized.

For this book, Not Quite so Stories, I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do. A short story collection is a lot harder to capture in an image than a novel with a single story. I told my publisher I wanted something that conveyed the essential essence of the stories, the absurd 'something' that's off from normality in each and functions as the focus around which the stories operate to explore how the characters deal (and/or fail to deal) with the absurdity of the world. I thought perhaps of a chaotic scene involving a bunch of objects/characters from the stories (such as the killer teddy bear from "60% Rayon and 40% Evil," the cymbal monkey from "Monkey! Monkey! Monkey! Monkey! Monkey!," the orange from "Cents of Wonder Rhymes With Orange," and so on). Then she employed a cover designer named Ruth M'Gonigle to see what she came up with. Ruth's design was very different from what I'd been thinking, but it conveyed what I was going for in such an elegantly minimalistic way that I couldn't conceive of any other cover.

I mean, the simple title in alternating black and white text on a teal-ish background…it seems so normal. Then the quiet way that the "SO" is cut in half, sliding off on the top, it perfectly captures that 'something off' in each of the stories. I loved it, and she only needed to show me one draft idea before we both jumped at it. Ruth M'Gonigle is a star at cover design.

About the Author

David S. Atkinson is the author of "Not Quite so Stories" ("Literary Wanderlust" 2016), "The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes" (2015 National Indie Excellence Awards finalist in humor), and "Bones Buried in the Dirt" (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, First Novel <80K). His writing appears in "Bartleby Snopes," "Grey Sparrow Journal," "Atticus Review," and others. His writing website is and he spends his non-literary time working as a patent attorney in Denver.
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