I think I’ve provided poor direction. Why? The proposals I’ve received pretty much convey the feeling of “horror movie”. Which is not at all the case. I didn’t write a horror novel. I’m not Stephen King writing Cujo or something like that :^)
So, I take blame for that.
I selected you as a finalist because I think you have the artistic talent to take the cover where I think it needs to go. And that’s this…
We need to dial down the “horror movie” effect from a 10 to a 2. Really, the story isn’t about fear. It’s about unpredictability. And anxiety, which is a form of fear, but not “oh my god there’s a shark in the water” or "there's a man with a huge knife behind the door" fear. It’s less immediate. It’s more, “supposedly the cancer is gone, but it may come back – odds are it will come back– and if it does, it’ll kill me.” It’s worry about that. That's the fear. Less "slasher movie" than it is "i am worried and cant' get it out of my mind."
And don’t forget that I survive (after seven years of the craziness). so the impression of the book via the cover can't be terrifying or overly dark. I beat the odds.
So… some key changes to the brief…
The title of the book is still “Through the Fun House”
The subtitle is “an unpredictable encounter with leukemia.” Whether or not that’s capitalized, I don’t know. But in the case of both the title and subtitle, I’m looking for clean, modern font. I want the font to look fresh. 2016. Crisp. How do you convey crisp and modern in a font?
I want to use the new photo I’ve attached to the brief: the photo of the antiquated roller coaster rails leading into oblivion. To me, that’s less “horror movie” than I provided before. It’s visually interesting (have you ever seen a roller coaster view like this???). It conveys anxiety yet at the same time the possibility of sun and eternity. It’s a reasonable level of anxiety plus chaos, which is the case with roller coasters and fun houses.
Let’s iterate a bit. Let’s do a little back and forth to get this right. My career is marketing, I’ve managed design teams, so I know how to be reasonable while at the same time holding the bar for what I think is needed.
Would love your involvement!!
AND... please feel free to suggest your own images based on the above. I love creative suggestions. I don't want to come across as prescriptive.
I need a professionally done book cover, including front, back, and spine. The book is a 280-ish page (76,000 word) true story of an eight-year battle with cancer, one that isn’t yet really over. Unlike other cancer stories, this one is told in first-person narrative, more of a suspense story than, say, a memoir.
Here's the description for the back of the book:
Through the Fun House takes the reader on a hair-raising, front-seat ride though the author's torturous, seven-year battle with acute, life-threatening Leukemia. Told in a gripping, first-person narrative, this mesmerizing account is both terrifying and tragic, heart-warming and humorous. Not for the timid, Through the Fun House makes no effort to minimize or sterilize the horrors of cancer, but also humanizes them. Leukemia, like most cancers, is fearsome--particularly when it repeatedly returns, and no more treatment options remain. The disease kills mercilessly--making no distinctions between mothers and fathers, spouses and children. It brutally hijacks and destroys lives without the slightest warning.
But despite difficult odds, many people make it, even when they’re told there’s no hope.
This is the story of one such survivor.
Here's an excerpt from the introduction I wrote:
What follows is a story. A true one, although I’ve changed most names and created dialogue that captures the reality of each moment, yet isn’t verbatim. It’s a story of cancer – and a story of survival – but also one that shares vignettes of death.
You might like reading this book if you or a loved one is suffering from leukemia (or any cancer, really), and you don’t want to feel alone. I know when I was first diagnosed with leukemia I found it comforting to read stories of others who had dealt with cancer, even if people died.
I should have died -- more than once. Yet I still live (at least for now), as can anyone with cancer, regardless of how dreadful the prognosis. People do beat the odds. It could just as easily be you or your spouse or your child as it could be anyone else.
If you recently lost a loved one to cancer, you may find this book won’t serve you well.
I treat several parts of the narrative with humor and lightness, and, honestly, if I recently watched cancer take one of my children or a parent or a spouse, I might find wryness in a cancer story off-putting, if not upsetting.
Cancer is not a laughing matter. It’s ruthless and terrible and the consequences are tragic and horrible. If you’ve recently lost someone to cancer, I truly wish you peace with all of my heart.
Here’s a blurb:
Through the Fun House is a powerful and important memoir about the author's sudden and unwelcome battle against cancer--a story that makes no effort to hide the indecencies of the disease, nor the physical and emotional tolls of treatment. Although the writer doesn't take himself too seriously (his self-deprecating humor is a crucial part of the story), his ability to chronicle the daily triumphs and tragedies of survival is both compelling and inspirational." -- John Shors, bestselling author of Beneath a Marble Sky
These are the attributes I’m hoping the cover will include:
1) Overall, the cover – front, back, and spine – need to “pop”, meaning I want the visual to catch someone’s eye and interest, albeit without being overly-jarring. Think “pop” as in a Time Magazine cover photo + edginess + cool visual design versus “jarring” like Times Square or a crowded, neon-lit night scene in Tokyo. At the end of the day, the cover needs to serve a marketing purpose. Needs to make someone want to check it out. Not something that’s bland and boring that they easily pass over.
2) At the same time, as does a carnival fun house, the cover needs to convey a combination of fear, suspense, deadliness, and weirdness (the journey through cancer results in some odd, goofy, surreal situations). But there has to be a touch of optimism. It’s not a horror show with a tragic ending. It’s a scary – and in some places tragic – story that also includes heart-warming moments with family and lots of wry humor. All that said, I think fear, suspense, deadliness, weirdness (as in fun house weirdness) are primary the key attributes to pivot on. The cover shouldn’t convey humor or the warmth of family and love. But it also shouldn’t be the DVD cover for a Friday the 13th movie showing a mad man with a bloody hatchet.
I’m attaching a few files for considerations:
1) Several of the initial chapters in case you want to glance through them to get a flavor of the story-telling. Please ignore errors / markings. Not 100% final.
2) Book description for back-cover.
3) Two stock photos I’ve licensed you can choose to use or not (I am open to abstract art – doesn’t have to be a photo).
4) Photo of me with my family night snorkeling for manta rays off of Kona, Hawaii. I’d like to use this photo as the author photo rather than just a picture of myself.
Of course, feel free to crop any of the photos – or use other ones or not use them at all.
It’s possible I’ll want to change or add wording before final print, so would like to have editable production files as well as print-ready files.
My preference would be to have submissions by end of May. I’ll likely make a decision by then if not sooner.