On Decision-Making and Book Covers

On Decision-Making and Book Covers

This week’s inspiration comes from my sister, Rachel, whose wise words are helping me through my latest challenge in the publishing process: my book cover.

Sometimes I’m not very good at making decisions. Why? Many reasons, but here are three:

I am slow.

I am slow.
It takes me a long time to gather my resources and consider the facts. I often get tangled up in the mental gymnastics of analysis.

I take others’ opinions into consideration.
I push the rewind and play buttons in my own mind as I listen to the tapes of special people in my life who have guided me well in the past.

I see too many possibilities.

I see too many possibilities.
I tend to be an optimist, and as for planning, well that’s in my DNA. But sometimes I see so many options that I cannot find a clear choice. And the perfectionist in me wants to choose THE right one.

Thankfully, Rachel knows how to help me when I get stuck in a decision loop.

“First of all, Sissy, how important is it?” she asked after I’d briefed her on the status of my cover.

“Huge, far bigger than I thought,” I told her. “In fact, that statement, ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ should be changed. After all, we ALWAYS judge a book by its cover. Readers spend an average of two seconds or less on making a decision whether or not to pick up a book to learn more about it, my publisher tells me.”

“So,” she pressed, “what do you need to do to be comfortable making a decision?”

“Well, to be honest, I’m in a fog about this. Nothing is clear. Right now I think I need to take a break from it.”

“Then do that, if you can. I’m here when you’re ready to pick it up again.”

I exhaled with relief. So many book covers samples are swirling in my mind. Which ones represent a memoir about resilience? Or my lifelong pursuit of “rethinking possible”?

I want to think like an author and have a cover that perfectly represents my book. But, the truth is, I needed to think like a reader.

The strange thing about this is that as readers we may not even know what appeals to us, especially when it comes to cover design. Apparently there’s a cottage industry that studies what draws people to a book—from its font size to its colors to its graphic representation. Thank heavens there are professionals who do this analysis and design work for a living.

So, after checking with my publisher, we agreed I could regroup and give the decision-making part of my brain a rest on this topic. With my son here for a few days, it’s been easy to escape. We binge-watched a television series, sat on the deck to watch the sun set with hors d’oeuvres and a refreshing drink, and went out to dinner and to a movie before he headed back to school.

With my son here

But now it’s time to buckle down and focus. Once again, I called Rachel. “Do you remember when Dad was choosing the cover for his book? All I can remember is that it got contentious.”

“Yes,” she said. A long pause followed. I could almost hear her searching her memory. It’s been nearly twenty years since our father’s book was first published. “I know he wanted the black chair on the cover.”

“But there is a chair on the cover, right?”

“Yes, but I think he wanted his actual black lounge chair, though, not a rendering of it.”

“Wait, so, Dad compromised?”


We didn’t have to say what we both knew, that besides our father’s masterful command of the spoken word and his persuasive ways that earned debate team honors as well as pastorates that swelled after his arrival, his heart was in that book. That black chair concept, a safe place to talk without fear of punishment, was the cornerstone of his book and its message. To wrap his words with anything less than the passion about his story must have been an extraordinarily difficult decision.

Yet, he compromised. The original book was published in 1997.

Sit Down God I'm Angry

And its latest version, still selling strong, has a new cover updated by his publisher after his death.

Sit Down God... I'm Angry

When I thought about it, at its core, decision-making comes down to trust. Trusting others. Trusting ourselves. And as my father used to say, sometimes it’s best to just trust the process.

So that’s what I’m doing now. I have my thoughts and favorites gathered. But I am going to trust the professionals, be willing to compromise, and let them guide me through their process.

How about you? Do you struggle with decisions? When you have an important choice to make, what steps do you take? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

And, thanks, Sissy! You are the best sounding board ever. Love you so much!

Sissy and Me

My best–always,

Becky  (Nana B)

P. S. Want to be the first to see the cover selection? Join me here for updates and special offers for my upcoming book, Rethinking Possible: A Memoir of Resilience.

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