Feed on

For a book cover artist to make a sufficiently good cover for your book, she has to know what the book is about. For example, many YWOD_Cover_3_0_Small.jpgdecades ago on another continent, a poet wrote a book of poems about knitting and other household activities. In the poem about knitting she used the words hooks and eyes, meaning the hooks and eyes of a knitting needle. The book cover artist designed a cover with eyes pierced by hooks (as in fishing hooks). Not a good match.

Many book cover artists want to know the genre of the book so they have a general idea about what the cover should look like. A mystery novel will probably have a man in the shadows; a romance will have a well-built barechested man on the cover. Swords and dragons appear on a different genre. In the 50s, a busty woman with a Martian adorned many a science fiction novel.

What kind of cover does a literary book require? Orwell’s 1984. Horror? Mystery? I believe the original cover had merely the author’s name and title. Occasionally an eye would appear. Speaking of eyes.

Here are two covers (with a church setting and minimalist) that I made for my novel The Year Without Days, an as-of-yet unfinished fifth novel in a pentology in Japan about:

  • A religious group sets out to cause panic and fear in Tokyo in order to reap the benefits of people seeking assurance from a church,
  • Two youngish people who meet and maybe or maybe not fall in love,
  • The relationships between the leader of the church, her rich lover, and her followers.

YWOD_Cover_Border_Small.jpgIt is not written in chronological order as in a Tom Clancy techno-adventure novel. It skips around between places, time, and people but they all lead to the climax which will be the result of the fake-terrorism plot by the church and whether or not the two youngish people get together.

Also, the youngish woman shows up in another as-of-now unfinished novel in the pentology ~ Botchan’s Bartender as Botchan’s bartender.

Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments and we can all be happy.


YWOD_Minimal.pngHere are two covers of two of my novels which may or may not be good. However, your project here is to determine if you like both, one, or neither and why. The first thing I noticed was the dimensions are not exact. Books need to be taller than they are wide and both appear to be too wide.

Here is something to consider. The purple V on The Year Without Days refers to the book being the fifth book in a pentology. The horizontal purple Roman 1 (one) on Botchan’s Bartender implies that it is the first book in the same pentology.

The little red dot is a reference to the fact that both books are part of my Japan Pentology: five books all some how related to Japan. Either the characters are Japanese (as in Botchan’s Bartender where all the characters are Japanese) or the location is in Japan (such as book two: The Nuns of Nañao. The characters in that book are Russians, mostly, but it takes place in the Soviet Union, the US, and Japan (Yokohama, mostly.)

Then there’s the added Japanese in Botchan’s Bartender which, translated, means The Murder of Botchan, or Botchan’s Murder. There are at least two murders in the novel and perhaps Botchan - a Japanese term now meaning a little spoiled rich kid or a kid who is trying to look grown up - a junior high school kid in a suit, for example. Originally it was from Natsume Soseki’s novel Botchan

Botchan_Minimal.pngThe point of the red dot from the Japanese flag and the Japanese on some of the novels including Giapan - ジパン is to show that the books are part of that Japan Pentology. Hopefully they might be easier to market. If I could figure out the genre. Later, I’ll give you all a synopsis and you can clue me into to the synposis. Although Botchan’s Bartender is part mystery/detective.

I also see that I need a black border to separate the whiteness of the book cover from the whiteness of the page. Or maybe a darker cover - off-white paper? But the point is to keep it as minimal as possible.

We shall see.




FrothyCoverWAVE_smaller_copy.jpgCovers are important. Both on beds and books. On books they are used to judge the entire content of the book. Imagine strolling through a bookstore where all the books have the same dull borwn and white covers. Only the titles and authors are different. How could we choose a book? The people who make book covers are talented creative people. Their talent and creativity, however, come at a price that first time self-publishers may not be able to afford. How do first time self-publishers (which used to be called vanity publishing) come up with covers?

Like me, they do it themselves. Like many self-creating book cover people, I have neither the creativity nor the talent to produce a good cover for my books. Nor the cash to pay a competent book cover designer. If I get the money to pay for a good designer (some designers get up to and maybe more than $2,000 a cover.), I will be more than willing to pay for a good cover.

On the Authority Self Publishing podcast they mention that authors should find a book cover designer who is familiar with the author’s genre. I realize you don’t want a romance novel cover on a murder mystery novel or a fantasy cover on a technical manual. But what if your genre is less specific. I’m talking about Literary Fiction, whatever that means. From Nanowrimo discussions, I can assume that Literary Fiction means not being in a specific genre that is easily identifiable such as fantasy or romance, mystery, thriller, or western. Or even historical fiction. The Great Gatsby? What’s the genre for that little tome? What about Moby Dick or Infinite Jest or House of Leaves?

FrothyCover_ALLEY.jpgI’m definitely not comparing myself to any of those authors but I do worry about what genre I belong to, if I belong to one. And if I don’t belong to a genre or sub-genre, how can I explain to the book cover designer what I need? Does the designer have to read the book? What if the designer doesn’t like my style? Or can’t read English?

Despite reading in all the book cover designer websites, such as The Book Designer, all of which say the first and biggest mistake any self-publishing author can make is to make their own covers, I did. Here are two.

The name of the novel is

This Giant Frothy Thing: Love and Terror in Tokyo.

I have two questions for you.

  • Which cover do you prefer, even if you don’t know the content?
  • What does each cover say about the content of the novel




This is the small green blank notebook with 80 pages in A6 size, suitable for carrying around to take notes, doodle, draw portraits and cityscapes or whatever you usually do with blank paper. The interior pages, which includes page numbers and a title page, have been sitting on my desk for the last year or so. I finally forced myself to make it, with cheap endpapers but exciting and tactile cover paper.

As for fiction, I wrote a short novel of about 115 pages comprised of seven short stories. The main character in one story will see, or bump into, or be aware of another character in, possibly, a non-speaking role. The second character then becomes the main character in the next story. Or a subsequent story, at least. Two chapters are horror stories, four chapters are love stories, and one chapter is both a horror story and a love story. All of the characters either order, make, or think about drinking a Giant Frothy Thing (frappuccino) so the title of the piece is Giant Frothy Thing: Terror and Love in Tokyo with each story ending with the phrase: And so their adventure of life begins. Implying their life continues and may or may not be connected to the story we are allowed to read. No cover yet, but when one becomes apparent, you’ll see it first here. Well, first after me.





After not doing much for the last few months Except write a Lot. I mean, a Lot! Two or three novels, two or
three other things mostly Not fiction; starting a new novel made up of short stories of related characters, I decided to bind a book. A beige book. For drawing. A blank notebook with a beige cover that I, or anyone, can use as a drawing exercise book.

The book has many pages that I didn’t count and it is almost square but a bit taller than wide. It has colorful endpapers and an outdent similar to the Japanese method of titling a book i.e. Vertical title on the upper right-hand side of the cover. Related to how scrolls were titled back when everyone was using scrolls.

It does, however, have a nice endpaper made up mostly of colorful flowers on a black background. Not so much used but the paper was not so expensive, either. 

The next book I bind will be soon. A novel. The Tokyo Tunnel Girl If I ever get the cover printed. Criminals, murderers, and manga artists running around the imaginary tunnels of Tokyo trying to find the Real bad guys. And selling the movie rights to the manga at the same time. Fun and games for the whole imaginary and perhaps fictious family.

You can buy a copy of The Tokyo Tunnel Girl if you wish. Email me and I’ll work out a deal. 
















I have been busy. Not binding books. Not printing out books to bind. Not even cutting book cloth and book boards into the proper shape to bind a book. I have been doing my utmost to procrastinate. By writing. I am currently writing three novels.

  • Giapan - Japanese man in Inquisition Spain, part of my Japan Pentology
  • Botchan’s Bartender - a murder mystery, also part of my Japan Pentology

  • The Giant Frothy Thing - a stand-alone sort-of novel made up of many characters who meet one another in coincindental incidents. Person A casually sees or hears Person B while A is looking for Person C. Person D then meets Person B during or after Person A casually sees or hears them. Not that complicated but fun. Also, the subtitle is Tales of Terror and Love in Tokyo but until I looked at the cover, it had no terror in it. Now it has Psychological Terror! Fun?

I must, must, I say, get back into bookbinding. And soon.



Podcasts about bookbinding and related arts. All available on iTunes

Susan Mills hosts Bookbinding Now

Steve Miller hosts Book Artists and Poets

Keri Schroeder hosts Books in the Wild
Me, Tedorigawa in Japanese 手取川製本 which is Tedorigawa Bookmakers or Tedorigawa Seihon.


Ms Schroeder’s podcast is the newest while Book Artists and Poets is the oldest. Ms Mills and I are in the middle somewhere.

Still working on making ebooks but I got sidetracked recently into writing a series of related short-stories heavily dependent on the characters (not so much plot, lots of people stuff.) It will, of course, be made into an ebook and either sold off or offered as a free-give-away for some reason. It's called The Giant Frothy Thing: Tales of Tokyo Love and Horror.



Yes, I’ve been busy but that's not excuse to here's Episode 159 full of excuses. In the month since the last podcast I have managed to:

  • bind five books
  • set ten books on iBooks Author
  • write two novels
  • am writing two more novels.
  • wrote and put on iBooks Author a Zine called The Diary of a Dead Cat Quarterly.

And hoping to get everything uploaded to iBooks and Amazon in the near near near future.

I am also thinking of starting an email list and provide subscribers with free Dead Cats. Hmmm. Sounds a little bit less than appetizing. 

The Diary of a Dead Cat Quarterly

Too Much Curiosity for Nine Lives

  • The Art of Kanazawa ~ about the arts found in Kanazawa, Japan.

  • White Sticks & Blind Dogs ~ about the white sticks used by blind people.

  • Sandwich ~ about Sandwich: the food, the man, and the islands.

  • Soup ~ about, surprisingly, soup and David Bowie. Worry not, he’s related.

  • Terra Non Est Centra Mundi ~ about the evolution of Earth from the center of the Universe to the third rock from a mediocre star. (On iBooks now! Search for Terra Non Est Centra Mundi.)

  • Canals ~ about famous canals and their histories.

  • Caged! ~ About Xenia Cage, artist, bookbinder, box maker, lover.




A novel not easy to read quickly as it slips between three stories. The three stories are:

Teenage computer programmer who believes she’s being stalked,

High school math genius and her manga artist friend,

An alien who is her own reincarnated changeling self who crash lands on Earth.

Nothing is at it seems. Or it is really easy to read because it isn’t difficult at all. Abacus Longing, the novel I wrote while writing the previous two novels The Nuns of Nañao and The Tokyo Tunnel Girl.

Actually, all three novels are not exactly linear. The Tokyo Tunnel Girl skips between two stories, at least: the woman in the tunnel, the man trying to find her, and the conspiracy cover up story. Okay, three stories.

The Nuns of Nañao jumps between time (three pasts and one now), places (Stalingrad, Mongolia, Brooklyn, Yokohama, and the tunnels of Tokyo), and people (the now-Russian, the then-Russian, Death as a sunbather in New Jersey). 

AbacusCover.pngHowever, Abacus Longing careens between stories like an out-of-control UFO crash landing South of Seattle while a book about birds reveals intimate secrets about the reader to the reader as a manga-artist scribbles a story about a UFO!

This episode is the first chapter of Abacus Longing and a very short chapter it is, too, wherein we meet our first protagonist, the teenage computer genius

For more on this book, check out Episode 154, below.


Nuns_Cover_5.pngThis is The Nuns of Nañao: A Reincarnate Loved Story. It is not a reincarnated love story because the people are the same; they just flip between bodies. In the previous novel I wrote, The Tokyo Tunnel Girl, a character disappears - both from the plot and from the book. This is the follow-up for that character. He is called, in both books, The Russian.

First we have Otto who falls in love with Nina. Otto is a Russian tank commander in World War Two. First he is in Mongolia with Zhukov and then is transferred to Stalingrad, where he and his two comrades, Raul and The Saint, die. They also meet the Angel of Death, of course, because they die.

He then appears as a watchmaker in Brooklyn where he meets a young scam artist who he dubs The Russian. They age together and one day in the park, Otto sees the Angel of Death again. He slips into The Russian’s body just before the angel takes him away.

Otto, now going by the name The Russian, ends up in Japan. After a bit of confusion, he straightens out and starts exploring; always looking for Nina.

Cover is a detail from a Hiroshige woodblock print, Man on horseback crossing a bridge on the Kiso Highway or, in the lingua franca of Japan: 木曾街道六拾九次之内 長久保(広重).

While writing this book, I got stuck so I started writing another book sort of to get the cobwebs out of my head and get a fresh look on life. This other book turned into Abacus Longing which will be part of our dramatic adventure next time. More info about Abacus Longing can be found down below in Episode 154.



« Newer Posts - Older Posts »