Judging My Book By Its Cover?

TFAGPRFSo there I was on the beach at Fire Island this weekend, catching up on Runner’s World magazine (Motto: Running is much more fun to read about than to, you know, actually do), when I noticed a name on the contributor page: Tim O’Brien.

Hey, I says to myself, that’s the name of the guy who did the cover of my book. What a coincidence! What’s he doing writing for Runner’s World?

But upon closer look, the Tim O’Brien guy didn’t write for Runners World, he did a portrait of American miler phenom Andrew Wheating.

Now that’s a really crazy coincidence, I thought. This guy who’s doing portraits for Runner’s World has the same name … Ohhhhh. Yes. I’m a bit slow.


So today, just to double check, I spent some time on the old Google machine looking up Tim O’Brien. It’s something I’d been meaning to do. After all, the guy had delivered a hell of a cover for The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival and I’d never thanked him, never looked him up.

I’ve noted before that authors — well, first-timers at any rate — have little to no say-so in the covers of their books. Considering the name of the book and sometimes overbearing pressure to go after the women’s market, I was having night sweats about pastel pinks, little white bunnies and, horror of horrors, a face full of comic sans font work.

But back in July when I received an envelope opened it to find my cover, my first reaction was “Holy Shit!” Seriously. To say it exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. That dark rich blue. The lights of the carnival. It was just so striking. And subsequent research has shown the book powerful enough to stop people on subways and in bookstores in their very tracks.

And what did I find when I was Googling Tim O’Brien. Wild and wonderfully weird things. Here’s his official website.

I’d be lying if I said I was surprised to find out he lives in Brooklyn. I think 70% of the cool things in life spend some time in Brooklyn.

chuckbrownAnd then, as I followed the trail to his blog, I discovered Chuck Brown. Or, I should say, I rediscovered Chuck Brown. Why do I say rediscovered? Because probably the same week I first laid eyed on the cover of The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival and was scanning it in and showing it off to everyone, I’d stumbled upon Chuck Brown on a blog and followed it back to Tim O’Brien’s blog and forwarded it all over the place. (Not to get all fan-boy on you, but you HAVE to click over to see the bigger version and original sketches.)

You might be asking, “Hey, Ken, didn’t you make the connection between Tim O’Brien’s blog and, you know, the Tim O’Brien what made your book cover?”

To which I answer, “Shut up!”

My only excuse — other than being slow — is that maybe the timing was off by a week and I just never made the connection. And I’m a little slow.

Whatever the case, I figured I’d share and conduct a little lovefest for Tim O’Brien and the cover of my book. If you’re in publishing and need an illustrator, hook him up. And, if anyone wants to judge my book by its cover, I say go right ahead. I only hope what’s inside the book can live up to the outside.

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One response to “Judging My Book By Its Cover?

  1. There are no coincidences. Wow, O’Brien’s a huge talent in a very introspective way. Curious how much someone like him demands to do a book like yours? I mean, it’s a really nice cover – and this is your first novel, right?

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