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The Evolution of the Cover of My New Book

My new book, What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know, will be published on April 19, 2013.

Intended for entrepreneurs and founders of startups, the subtitle of the book is: An Insider Reveals How to Get Smart Funding for Your Billion Dollar Idea. I wrote it with my good friend Brian S. Cohen, the Chairman of the New York Angels.

Book cover design is an endlessly fascinating topic in which publishers and authors invest enormous resources and angst. Many books go through many iterations of covers before some level of agreement is achieved. Some publishers generate up to a dozen covers and do mini-surveys to get feedback. Authors sometimes try to drive the process, usually with suboptimal results. More typically we are content to be reactive.

The evolution of our book’s cover is a typical example of what I mean. So before I go through the cover designs culminating with the final selection, take a minute to think about how you would illustrate an investing book about angel investors meant for an entrepreneur audience.

This is the cover that McGraw-Hill first proposed.

McGraw-Hill's first cover design featured the type with a subtle background.

But the background was too subtle. Some people thought the lines were mean to connote rays from the sun. To others, the lines reminded them of a baseball.

If You Want to Live Your Dream, Wake Up

Meanwhile, I got an idea for a cover. The idea came to me in a dream and I grabbed the first piece of paper I could find–the back of a receipt–to quickly sketch the idea. In my concept, a smiling Brian is holding an oversized  presentation check of the kind that charities use to communicate receipt of a large gift.

Author John Kador's original sketch for book cover

I was very excited about this concept. The thing that readers of this book really want (or think they do) is to have angel investors write them big checks.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a cover that actually represented the thing that readers most wanted and embed on the check all the information about the book (the title, subtitle, author names, etc.)?

Brian was skeptical but–bless him–very patient with me. He agreed to pose for a number of photographs when we went to the studio of photographer Ed Lederman.  We used a large posterboard cut in the dimensions of a check as a prop.

Outtake from author photo session with Brian Cohen and his wife Carol holding an oversized check which would be filled in during post-production.

But I quickly abandoned my idea when I realized that the area of the check was too small for all the type required, especially for a wordy title like ours. There was just not enough real estate on the heck:

Outtake of Brian Cohen holding oversized check for tentative cover design

Eventually, the final cover emerged:

Final cover for What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know.

This version uses the metaphor of gold coins falling from the sky, as if angel investors are favoring the startup founders of Earth with unlimited riches, connoting the transmission of value our book promises to deliver.

Brian and I are happy with this design. We know we had a very wordy cover and this design combines an excellent use of type with a compelling metaphor.


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