Your Feedback on my Cover, Please

Jason Riley cover drafts

*update:JRiled image remix

Also, I need to decide if I should write under a pen name or use my real name. This book is different than my kid-friendly series, and has some edgy language or ideas. If I were to pursue traditional publishing at any time, I don’t think they would have a good sense of humor about it. Here are two excerpts from the  book to prove my point (middle of book- which is why you won’t know the characters). Total for both excerpts is five pages.

“Jason Riley?”  A woman’s voice asked.

Jason looked up and saw a woman, no taller than Mom, with dyed blond hair which Jason could see covered jet-black hair. The woman had a small nose like Emily’s, but her face was covered in a lot of makeup, unlike Emily’s. She wore an expensive pantsuit and her heels were so shiny Jason thought he could see his reflection off of them. “Jessica Rose. How are you today?”

“I’m fine,” Jason said. “It’s been wicked insane in here with all the people trying to meet me and say hi.”

Jessica laughed and sat down next to Tomas. She muttered “hello” to him but didn’t pay him any attention. Next to her was a really cute girl, not much older than him, with dyed blond hair and a one-shoulder periwinkle blue dress and a matching handbag.

“This is Lindsay, one of our interns,” Jessica explained. Lindsay got up to shake Jason’s hand. She sat down next to Jessica and to PopPop’s right. Jason noticed PopPop’s eyes drawn to Lindsay’s chest, followed by the obligatory slap from MomMom when she saw where his eyes were. They all began helping themselves to the appetizers.

Jessica handed Jason a business card, reaching across Tomas. She apologized for this. Jason looked at her card; it had a red rose and her company’s name and contact information on it. “I was just looking forward to meeting you. It seems like you became quite the sensation just a short time ago.”


“You have a lot of new fans, and I have to say, you have a great channel. Clearly, you’re very talented.”

“Thanks,” Jason said. A thought entered his mind- why was she sitting at his table? He didn’t know her. Maybe she was trying to do what Dad warned about: get him to endorse something. He needed to find out. “Which of my videos is your favorite?”

“Honestly? I really like your Hipster Hamster videos. Your pet is very cute and watching her-“

“It’s a him.”

Jessica laughed silently. “It’s okay,” she said. “Anyway, you were gradually building a following and then- FWOOSH! What happened?”

“I got mad at Fat- I mean Thaddeus,” Jason replied. He gave Tomas a look, and he nodded back. “He’s this obnoxious kid at my school. He made some racist comments to a friend of mine and a fellow YouTuber. And he made her cry. So we called him out for his actions and then the deusche-“

“The what?”

“The dude, he retaliated, so Thaddeus came and damaged Tomas’s bike. And that’s what prompted me to make that video.”

“Wow,” Jessica muttered. She didn’t asked why Thaddeus had targeted Tomas.

“So that’s what happened,” Jason continued. The noise got even worse as the appetizer plates were taken away. “That video had over eleven million views but my dad made me take it down because Thaddeus asked me to.  But I still have a lot of followers.”

“And your numbers are really growing, aren’t they?”

“Yea.” Jessica didn’t seem like a hustler; she seemed genuinely interested in his life and his work. “I didn’t do the math, but I think if I can make one more decent video I can hit two hundred thousand YouTube subscribers by the end of the year.”

“Fantastic,” Jessica said happily, with an emphasis on the last syllable. She sounded a lot like Mr. Kraiter. “That’s exactly what we’re looking for, Jason, in an aspiring author.”


“Yes, Jason, I represent people who write books for a living.”

“I can’t write and I’m not an author. Don’t you guys, like, go to book conventions and stuff to find authors?”

“We still do sometimes. But we try to branch out more, you know, meet new potential authors.”

“At ReYouCon?” Jason read maybe one book a year outside of class; he wasn’t dumb, but he knew he was a bad writer. So even he was trying to figure out how his Hipster videos and funny faces would make someone think he wanted to write.

Especially a place like this,” Jessica said. “We’re always looking for people with established, well-developed platforms who might be interested in writing.”


“Hey Jessica, can I ask for a favor?”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“Do you remember some time ago I mentioned that my dad wrote some books?”

“What about it?” Her voiced tensed, like she knew what Jason was about to ask.

“I wanted to know if now’s a better time for you to, like, look at them, and if they’re any good, get it published.”

There was a moment of silence. “It’s not so easy,” Jessica finally said. “Many books don’t get sold. Most of my clients are already famous, so it’s a little easier.”

“What about the first chapter at least?” Here goes. “I mean, he had a hundred fourteen rejections, I think he deserves like a break-“

“It’s not the same. I’d have to sell his books, and a publisher is unlikely to pay for a manuscript, let along four, from someone whose books have clearly been rejected so many times that he’s asking his teenage son to ask on his behalf.”

“He didn’t tell me to do that.” Bitch, he thought. What’s her problem?  “I asked on my own.”

“Even you can’t help him. We have lots of books and clients to deal with. You may be a celebrity, but you’re not special in the book publishing world.”

“But this is the twenty-first century.” Jason was starting to think less of Jessica. “Apple makes a new phone every three months. Why can’t you guys be like that?”

“Books are not tweets. And just because you kids-“


“-you kids think everything should be done right now, doesn’t mean the book publishing world’s gonna change. It’s had three major changes in the last six hundred years; and your impatience is not the fourth.”

Jason sighed. “Sorry, forget that I asked.”

“Besides, your father lacks a suitable platform to publish his novel. It’s a tough marketplace, Jason. Between all the books, games, apps, movies, and whatnot, your father needs a built-in fanbase.”

“What about mine? I’ve got millions of fans. I’ll ask them to buy the book.”

“Jason, that won’t work.”

“Why not?” He scratched his forehead. “I can get people to buy it…”

“No you won’t. Think about it. Your fans are mostly what?”

“Teens and young adults.”

“Okay. And what kind of books did your dad write?”

“Horror, contemporary fiction, and a science fiction book.”

“And are his books for teens or older adults?”

“Older adults, I think.”

“Okay. So your fans are not going to buy your dad’s book, because it won’t interest them. Plus they’ll get annoyed if you go overboard to sell something that’s not yours. Selling your cat shirts and ninja book is one thing, this is another. Plus, these kid’s parents have no idea who you are, and if they did, they’d probably avoid your dad’s book like Charlie Sheen avoids rehab (Jason laughed quietly). So you could end up hurting your father, and yourself. He will have to develop his own platform.”

“That just seems dumb. How bad can his books be?”

“You tell me.” There was an awkward pause. Jason hadn’t considered this might happen. “Okay, so I’ve never read it, but my Mom thinks it was pretty dec-“

“So what? Most people’s spouses and friends say that, so they don’t hurt any feelings. The point is, if I go to the publisher with the book, they’ll ask how he’s going to sell it. Jason, there’s not much budget for advertising anymore. It’s all on your own, unless you’re rich and famous, like Stephen King.”

“So then, why promote him?” Jessica wasn’t making sense. Jason wasn’t even sure why he was defending Dorky Dad- with his ugly Station Wagon, old-fashioned work clothes, flabby body, and his penchant for yelling at the TV when the news was on. But after all the things Dad had done for him, this seemed like the least Jason could do. “He’s gotta be worth a billion at least. Why give money to him instead of my dad?”

“Jason, I’m sorry.” Jessica sounded exasperated. “I admire your desire to help your father. I really do. But getting a book published is difficult, and rejected books from an unknown author just isn’t going to interest that many people. Now, if you don’t have any more questions, I’d like to focus on your book and your upcoming tour.”

“Yes, ma’am.”


4 thoughts on “Your Feedback on my Cover, Please

  1. What’s the genre of the book, Sam? That would help me opine on the cover. Right now it hints at Romance.

    In re a pen name, there have been other authors who have used pen names and their own names for their books. If you’re worried that your publisher will hesitate to risk a fan base because of a genre change, by all means write the edgier book in another name – and you could keep the same publisher, most likely. For what it’s worth.

    BTW, I think you meant to write “douche” rather than “deutsch,” but I could be wrong. 🙂


    • The genre is Young Adult satire, maybe satire romance. My concern with the cover is that the reader will expect something they will not see. Let’s just say this is not a typical romance novel…a lot of life lessons learned and a very unconventional writing style. You can see what I’m using in my sample. And yes on the spelling of douche- I misspelled it and the editor didn’t catch it.


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