Ya ever wonder what goes into a book cover for self-published books? Me neither. But this is a chance for me to write up a nothing post to tell you that my new book, Aliens: The First and Final Disclosure launches in softcover and on Kindle on September 3rd–and you can preorder the Kindle version right frikken now.
Also, this is kinda interesting in a psychic way.
In the past, when I need a book cover done that I was incapable of creating myself, I would turn to graphic artist extraordinaire, Jeff Ritzmann. Jeff is no longer with us, and so, although his influence is all over this book, I no longer have the luxury of begging him for artwork. Stay calm, I thought. I can handle this one on my own.
I took to Canva.com and scoured it for free images. I whipped up a cover that I thought captured what I was going for with the writing: an alien ripping out of the book as if entering the universe from another dimension. But it was a little too tropey and bland for my taste. I dunno, you tell me. Here it is:
Wait, the alien can’t be ripping out of the cover if the cover is green and the page s/he’s ripping out of is white, right? So, that’s a problem. Regarding it now, it looks like a child just unwrapped the worst birthday gift ever. The gift of the nagging gray alien who pops over uninvited.
I showed it to me ol’ pal Tyler Kokjohn–a book cover expert if ever there was one. He didn’t like it. Not enough pizazz. His recommendation? Splash an intriguing alien face on the cover like Whitley Strieber did with Communion, because look how successful that book was. People need a mascot to stare at to be enticed to buy it.
Okay, okay, I’ll try. It’s going to be difficult using free images from Canva–but surely something will fit the bill and give me that Communion cover push no other book in the history of publishing has ever achieved. Something ancient and futuristic and alien at the same time, but with a spark of emotion that grounds it in the human and the present. I can do this!
Here’s what I conjured:
Like Charlie Brown realizing he has a fear of everything, Tyler exclaimed, “That’s it!” I’m paraphrasing, but I remember his excitement that I had, indeed, captured the magic of the Communion cover.
Personally, I thought it was a bit cheesy. It reminded me of Poochie, the rapping dog from that episode of The Simpsons where the producers of The Itchy & Scratchy show thought they needed to add a contemporary character to appeal to the kids. Tyler’s glee was infectious, though, and I think he swayed me into believing that no, this actually captured the defiant nature of the book. Plus, it was an alien mascot, like on the cover of Communion. It really checked all the boxes for him and the more I stared at it, the more I saw what Tyler saw. Or what he wanted me to see. He’s a bit of a skeptic and was likely sabotaging my book.
For a while the sabotage worked. I was hooked on this cover. It may not have screamed, Magical/Mystical Book of Wonder, but it did scream, I Dare You To Read This In Public and that was good enough. But then a funny thing happened on my way to self-publishing. Friend and artist (or “fartist,” as he does not at all prefer to be called) John Randall contacted me after I teased the existence of the book on Facebook. He offered to create a cover for it if I needed.
John and I had created a children’s book together, The Story of Toe: A Love Story For Everyone, which was originally featured in I Am To Tell You This And I Am To Tell You It Is Fiction. His work was so compelling, I decided to release it as a standalone. And alone it still stands as practically no one has purchased it. Still, John’s a great artist and so I asked him to take a look at my cover and give me his honest feedback. His honest feedback was something along the lines of, “What the fuck are you, crazy?! This is insulting to my artistic eye. Did you rewrite Howard Stern’s Private Parts or is this an alien book? For fuck’s sake, did Tyler put you up to this?!”
Only John was a hair more subdued than that.
Before I could even ask, John had whipped up another cover. A better cover. The best cover. Greatness.
Now here come the psychic parts. Knowing nothing about the book except that I’d written one and Tyler tried to sabotage it, John told me what he had in mind. This is a real quote from his email to me:
Hi Jeremy, having not read the book will make it difficult for me to know what direction/tone you would like. Can you give me a few salient points from the book, so I may know where to start. My first impression [was] the idea of a broken mirror or even reflecting back ourselves/the other in said mirror. Do you remember The Marx Brother’s “Duck Soup” and the Mirror routine?
I don’t know , that’s just off the top of my head.
The broken mirror motif and our refusal to look and see ourselves as we are–to see what we want to see when we do bother to look–is exactly the heart of this book. When I asked him why he thought of that he said it’s kinda what my work has been about, no?
I mean, yes.
Him, I mean, not me.
But also me.
When we agreed on aliens in the shards, I was expecting the typical nordic blond, gray, reptilian, and mantis beings. We hadn’t talked about that, I just assumed because, duh. The first three are present and accounted for. But where’s the mantis? No mantis. Instead, there’s that dude wearing radio headgear. Who is that?
John explained that that’s his rendition of the alien from the 1967 encounter of Ashland, Nebraska patrolman Herbert Schirmer. This was a simple UFO encounter that expanded into quite the story later, under hypnosis. Under hypnosis he claimed he asked the alien with the headgear what his people wanted and he famously replied, “We want you to believe in us, but not that much.”
This is a very specific alien type from a single case–not at all the general, nondescript gray or mantis or reptile or Kardashian. Odd that John would include this, except… as it turns out… Chapter 18 of my book is framed in the context of that very case. This reveal might not be so odd for other UFO/alien abduction authors who tediously cite old encounters, but I’m not an author who talks about other cases so much. I talk about me. Tediously.
I love the mirror.
And so it was born. The greatest book cover I could have ever asked for encapsulating what may just be my final ufological book. If you like what you see here, check out more of John’s and his wife Elaine’s work at:
And if you aren’t already, you need to be following Tyler’s blog here:
Finally, oh right. The reason I wrote this post in the first place. (Secretly, second place. For the sake of full disclosure, humiliating Tyler is often my number one priority.) If you’re gonna buy my new book on Kindle, you can preorder it here:
Aliens: The First and Final Disclosure Amazon Link
Or pick up the softcover on September 3rd. That’s my birthday. Give me the gift of buying yourself this book and tear into it like an alien escaping its dimension trope.