Monday, August 31, 2015

Peeking Under the Covers of High Hill Press

It's true. People really do judge books by their covers, and appealing covers can make or break book sales. But don't just take my word for it.

In a May 30, 2013 online article in the Huffington Post titled “Yes, We Really Do Judge Books by Their Covers,” Terri Giuliano writes, “A book’s cover is the first thing a potential reader sees and it can make a lasting impression.”

Later in the article, Giuliano states, “If a great cover has gut-level emotional appeal and the power to entice readers, a poorly designed cover can be a real turn-off.”

Designing eye-catching covers at High Hill Press is takes hard work, imagination, and a touch of magic to create images that capture the author’s vision while enticing readers to turn the pages.

Here is a sampling of some of our notable book covers, along with a peek behind the curtain at the wizardry that goes into our cover designs.  

Ring of Fire by Cotton Smith

In creating the cover for Ring of Fire, I included a stark landscape, smoke-tinged storm clouds, and a looming mountain in the distance to convey the hardships ahead for protagonist Ring McCollum, a former captain in the Union Army.  

With his cherished three-legged dog at his side and his heirloom family ring in his possession, battle-weary McCollum travels across desolate terrain searching for meaning after the Civil War. To enhance the cover’s impact, I inserted a small ring of fire in the sky and reworked the photo of a four-legged dog to appear that the animal on the cover had only three legs.

Baker Mountain by Doyle Suit

Baker Mountain is a young adult novel set in the heart of the Ozarks area called Baker Mountain during America’s Great Depression. Thereisa Housely did the art work as an oil painting of a simple homestead in the shadow of a mountain. To create the cover, the image of the mountain peak was moved to the background to dovetail with the story. The cover depicts an era where courageous people relied on grit and the bare necessities to scrape by. The images of light shining from the windows, woodsmoke coming out of the chimney, and flowers decorating the garden portray an impression of welcome, comfort, and hope.

Brackeen's Law by Dusty Richards

Thereisa Housley also created the cover for the western novel, Brackeen’s Law. This novel is book three of the Frank Brother series, and it is the story of a man starting a ranch with a heard of longhorn cattle. The images of hardy longhorns and uneven landscape, along with the Texas flag imbedded behind the title, create an impression of strength and rugged individualism and give a hint of a dangerous cattle drive, which is a major scene in the novel.

Cactus Country Anthology Volume III

This is one of my favorite covers. The anthology is a collection of western stories, and like western writers, their visions of cowboys differ from story to story. The graceful cover wraps around to the back in one continuous picture, with the lively cowboys creating a captivating scene. I designed the cover image so readers would wonder what each cowboy is doing while hinting at the variety of stories within the anthology.

Echoes of the Ozarks, Volume IX
For the cover of Echoes of the Ozarks Volume IX, celebrated Ozark photographer and journalist, Brenda Brinkley, shot a photo that ultimately captured a realistic representation of the Ozarks. Out of nine anthologies in this popular western-themed series, Brinkley shot seven covers with photos capturing images of Missouri Mules, brilliant red Cardinals, and picturesque Ozark landscapes.

House on Prytania by Pat Carr
This is a splendid collection of southern gothic short stories, with a cover depicting the mood, feeling, and atmosphere of the Deep South. Moss-draped majestic trees, dappled sidewalks, and stately old mansions are complemented by a dark green background. These images mirror the dark theme of the stories in this impressive collection by renowned writer Pat Carr.


  1. Great post, Lou. Thanks for the insight on what goes into creating your covers.

  2. I agree. I always choose a book first by the cover and title, before author or genre. Great post, thanks.


  3. Wonderful article about covers and how important they are to the sale of a book. Especially in today's world of Amazon and online sales where sometimes just a small thumbnail picture is all you have.