Hey Space Cadets, today I wanted to bring you a guest post by my friend. Author MLS Weech is running a contest to judge book covers, and you could vote too! He’ll share the origins of this contest and tell you more about what goes into it. All you book nerds out there will love it, so pop on over and look! Without further ado, here’s Matt!
Before I get started, I’d like to thank J.R. for letting me do a guest post. I hoped my book cover of the month brackets would be well received, but I had no idea that it’d be so widely viewed. I’m really thrilled, and I’m glad J.R. was so interested he asked me to do a guest post on his blog. It’s always an honor when someone asks me to share some thoughts.
I took some time thinking about how to approach this, and I decided I wanted to go a little more in depth with how this started, and how I find the entries for the brackets.
In 2012, I started my last tour of duty in the Navy as an instructor at the Defense Information School. In the Navy, it’s not enough for us to have one skill. Instead, we work to master all the major communications skill sets. When I arrived there as an instructor, I had to brush up on all my abilities. One thing I’ve always loved was design. Now, before anyone who’s met me blasts this post, I am speaking about my affection for the art, not my ability or desire to do it. I found out that my skills in photography gave me a LOT of talent in the field of editing design. I’ve also been able to work with award winning artists for the last few years, and I picked up a thing or two. I’ve been an instructor there ever since. I’ve been called on to judge contests for the school and the Navy as a whole.
Since I’ve been teaching, I’ve developed a habit. You see, it’s weird, but I have this strange reputation at the school. I’m uncompromising and a bit crass. Even I can admit that. I want the best from my students. That makes me feel bad some times, and I wanted an opportunity to simply give credit to work I thought stood out for some reason. So what I started doing was going to Navy.mil to look at the work my students do. If you have the time, please stop by. There are some amazing images and stories there. It’s essentially like an associated press for the world, but only for Navy information. Anyway, I go there when I have a few minutes or I need a break. I view 10 pages of images, and I share the images I like on my FB page (my alter ego’s page, not my author one). When I share it, I talk about why the image stood out. I’ve even noticed a few others following my example. The idea is I want my students (and the world) to know how proud I am of them. As a teacher, it’s my job to push them to where they can be. Once they leave the school, I’m free to be every bit as proud of them as I want to be.
One day, I was on Amazon. Believe it or not, I was checking to see how J.R.’s book, The Legion Awakes was doing in terms of its ranking. I was just tooling around and saw a cover that I thought was awesome. So, I threw the image on my author page and called it my Book Cover of the Day. (That was The Gender Secret in case you’re curious.)
I kept it going and I wondered, What should I do when I finish all these images? I’ve been aware of Brackify for a while, so I sent them an email, and they were wonderful!
I spend a good portion of my day looking at visual products and critiquing them. I like providing examples of covers that stand out for one reason or another. So my goal is to highlight great covers for great books. I even took it one step further by buying the book that won so I can do a review on it. This way, readers know that sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, and THEN see if the content of the story holds up.
To top that off, if I can, I try to get a hold of the artist and interview them. So this has organically become a fascinating tool to talk about great art and where it comes from. Maybe it can even help authors connect with outstanding designers for future products.
So that’s the story on how a whim turned into a project. I’m thrilled with how December went, and I look forward to January’s Bracket, which goes live Feb. 1. I’m already halfway through the month of February. This probably means my scheme to do a book cover of the year bracket is sure to happen.
Thanks again J.R. for the chance to post on your blog. If anyone has any questions about what I look for or how I set up the bracket, just let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading,
Thank you for reading my good friend MLS Weech’s post, and please check him out here. Also, mark your calendars for February 1st, 2017 so you can vote in this awesome contest. An idea so epic — I wish I thought of it!
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.