Guest Post: Jeff Bond – THE WINNER MAKER

The Winner Maker by Jeff Bond

Hello, my bookish peeps. I’ve often wondered how much thought and planning goes into designing the cover art for a book. Some cover art can be, let’s just say off-putting, and other cover art can be eye-catching. Today, Jeff Bond, author of The Winner Maker, stops by for a visit and discusses with us the all-important issue of cover art from the author’s perspective. Thank you, Mr. Bond for taking time out of your schedule for today’s visit. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on cover art. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jeff Bond.

I have a love-hate relationship with cover art. I love being involved in the process. I can’t draw to save my life and having the opportunity to oversee a professional artist capturing my story’s essence in visual form is humbling, wonderful, and just plain fun. When you see a standout book cover — the demon-man in American Psycho, that disembodied blue face of The Great Gatsby — you just feel the story bubbling up through your bones. You’re not only excited about the book. You’re excited about the whole idea of the book, everything it has the potential to say. You can’t wait to dive in between those flaps and discover how this author went about delivering on the promise of that image.

What if your book cover could make a reader feel all that?

Here’s the problem: what if it doesn’t?

When you involve yourself intricately in the cover design process, as I did with The Winner Maker, you’re taking a risk. The stakes are high. The task is daunting. You know the sort of cover art you like, but you also know (or should know) that the genre you’re publishing in carries certain cover expectations — if not requirements. If you commission a cover that’s deep and intellectually bold, you’d better be selling a book of that description too. At the same time, you don’t want generic—something that looks like it got stamped out from comparable titles, the text swapped in with your name and title. Or do you?

For The Winner Maker, I absolutely did not want the thriller-tastic silhouette-running-into-dangerous-skyline cover, though I had people advise me that I needed exactly that. “Readers need to know they’re getting a thriller.” Drama. Danger. Tension. The color red. I decided to put my head down against this headwind and chart a different course. I felt—still feel—my book was aiming to be more than a straight thriller. It featured complex characters and explored my themes in fresh ways. I wanted an image that suggested this.

Andrea Orlic, my amazing designer, came up with a piece of art I absolutely loved. It differed from the final cover in a few ways, the most significant being that the sun was yellow, and the “I” in WINNER MAKER wasn’t smeared. I thought—still think—it told the entire story at a glance. The teacher at the center, both light and dark, commanding a sun, keeping certain people in the light while leaving others out. The one set of eyes watching hauntingly. I thought it had just the right vibe—dangerous, but stylishly so, with plenty of unanswered questions.

Then somebody I trusted, with plenty of experience in the industry, told me it looked like a seventies sci-fi cover. I should just hand the blurb off to an experienced cover shop and have them make me something.

Self-doubt roared through me. Was I making a terrible mistake? Was I sabotaging my book by involving myself in a realm I had no business in? A realm I knew next to nothing about?

I went back to Andrea, who thankfully does have experience in the field. She talked me off the cliff. We agreed to make a couple tweaks to her original design — smearing the “I”, turning the sun that thriller-tastic red — to more clearly communicate the genre for potential readers.

As the book makes its way out into the world, I’ve come to believe that for all the trials and tribulations, we did end up with the perfect cover. Many love it. A few don’t. Some think it looks like a hard book to get into.

How can the cover be perfect, you ask, if some don’t like it?

Because this reaction tracks uncannily to reactions early readers have had to the book itself. Professional reviews and the vast majority of reader reviews have been extremely positive, but a couple have found the character development burdensome in the early going. They were looking for a more straight-ahead thriller.

When what’s outside the flaps evokes so accurately what’s inside them — the totality of the book, not just a genre label — then you’re in the right place.

What do you like or dislike in book covers? Are you intrigued by an image outside genre norms, or does it make you think the author/publisher just fired an airball?

The Winner Maker

by Jeff Bond

on Tour December 1-31, 2018


The Winner Maker by Jeff Bond

Bob Fiske — the 74-year-old dinosaur who’s taught Honors English and coached varsity football for five decades — is missing.

To his Winners, class favorites Fiske designated over the years for their potential to “Live Big,” it’s heartbreaking. Fiske did more than inspire with soaring oratory; he supported their ambitions into adulthood. Four of his brightest former stars reunite to find him, putting high-octane careers on hold, slipping police barricades, racing into the wilds of Northern Michigan for clues about the fate of their legendary mentor.

Others don’t see a legend. They see an elitist whose time has passed.

When a current student — female — disappears just hours into the Winners’ search amid rumors of inappropriate meetings, the Great Man’s reputation is a shambles.

Feints, betrayal, explosive secrets from their own pasts: as facts emerge, each Winner must decide how far they’ll go for Fiske. Can the truth redeem him? Or has this cult of hyper-achievement spawned a thing so vile none of their lives will survive intact?

“An exhilarating and emotionally astute mystery.” ~ Kirkus

Book Details:

Genre: Upmarket Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date:  December 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 332
ISBN: 1732255202 (ISBN13: 9781732255203)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Jeff Bond

Author Bio:

Jeff Bond is a Kansas native and graduate of Yale University. He lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters, and belongs to the International Thriller Writers Association.

Catch Up With Jeff Bond On


Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jeff Bond. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2018, and runs through January 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Author: thebookdivasreads

I'm a reader, an avid reader, or perhaps a rabid reader (at least according to my family). I enjoy reading from a variety of different genres but particularly enjoy fiction, mystery, suspense, thrillers, ChickLit, romance and classics. I also enjoy reading about numerous non-fiction subjects including aromatherapy, comparative religions, herbalism, naturopathic medicine, and tea.

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