A Book Cover Must Make a Promise, and the story must Deliver it

FOURTH ROUND on 1-25-15

This may be the final cover. There were two more suggestions after I posted the choices for the third round. One suggestion was for a compromise between A & B, and the second suggestion was to take the kissing couple and make them partially opaque/transparent. I used the burn tool on Adobe Elements to take away some of the brightness in the stars and scanned the couple with the Eraser set at 5% Opacity. I started at 20% Opacity and worked down to 5% in several stages, and discovered that anything more than 5% and the lovers started to vanish into the starry sky. This cover revision is still open for suggestions until February 1, 2015, and I thank everyone who is taking part in the process.

Low Res Final  Cover on Jan 25


These two choices are based on the majority of comments from both Twitter and this post.

Jan 24 Low Def Final two choices of New Cover


Thanks to comments and suggestions the choice has narrowed down to two covers. They look similar but both have different images on the top third of each cover—which one works best?

Low Res January 22 - two choices

> the original post starts with the next paragraph <

How important is a book’s cover? Well, for an answer, The Midwest Book Review rejects books submitted for review if the cover doesn’t measure up to traditional industry standards. Midwest reviewers do not bother to open those books. They go in the recycle bin.

On Saturday, January 10, 2015, I attended the January meeting of the Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club to hear a presentation by Jim Azevedo, the Marketing Director of Smashwords. The title of his presentation was “The Secrets to Ebook Self-Publishing Success”. With a Power Point Presentation that had 72 screen shots, he focused on ten secrets, and the one that grabbed my attention was #2, Creating a SUPBERB cover image.

It was soon obvious to me that a book’s cover was probably one of the most important steps to publishing success after writing a riveting story that is professionally edited, because more than 26% of the presentation focused on the importance of an attention grabbing book cover that makes promises about the story.

Azevedo provided a case study of one cover that went through four changes. During the metamorphosis of this book’s cover from dull to boring, then interesting to sexy and hot, it was barely selling.

It wasn’t until the sexy and hot fourth cover in the sixth month that the novel took off and became an Apple iBoostore #5 bestseller, and today the book has been a New York Times Best Seller and is still selling well on Amazon—when I checked while writing this post, it was ranked #466 in competition with more than 12-million titles on Amazon.

The book I’m talking about is Playing for Keeps by R. L. Mathewson, and on Amazon it currently has a 4.5 average from 1,128 customer reviews. If you check out the paperback, you’ll discover cover number three (there were two clovers before #3 that are not worth seeing).

What does that #466 rank mean? The one-time “My Splendid Concubine” hit #56 on Amazon, it sold more than 2,000 copies in 24 hours. On January 13, Tuesday, the same novel sold three copies and was ranked #114,722.

Anyway, Smashwords’ Jim Azevedo got me thinking. The cover of my second novel, Running with the Enemy, wasn’t promising what readers would find in the story compared to the winning book covers that I saw in the presentation.

Now I have generated several choices to replace the current second e-book cover of “Running with the Enemy” (the paperback still has the first cover), and anyone who leaves a comment and votes helping me select the best cover will be entered in a drawing for a free e-book copy of the novel (or a paperback if the winner prefers one and lives in the United States). If the winner already read it, that’s okay. I’ll send the winner of the drawing a copy of my next novel when it comes out in a few months—“The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova”. It’s with the copy editor as I’m writing this Blog post and the cover is pretty much a done deal—I hope. And if the winner doesn’t want to read these two novels because they offer the theme or genre the winner prefers to read, then I will offer an Amazon “Give as a Gift” equal to the full price of the e-book.

If you decide to take part in helping me select a better cover for “Running with the Enemy”, there are four choices. Please indicate your choice in a comment. Thank you. To help you make a choice, I’ve copied after the five new cover choices the most helpful review on Amazon in addition to what a Writer’s Digest Judge said about the novel. In addition, if none of them work better than the current e-book cover, then I will return to the Adobe Elements editor and get back to work. The drawing for the winner will be held on February 1, 2015.


Resized and Low Res 4  Covers for Voting on 1-17

“Lloyd Lofthouse describes his book Running with the Enemy as a memoir that evolved into fiction. As a Vietnam veteran who had seen and experienced enough to leave him with post-traumatic stress disorder, he wrote this book it seems to come to terms with all he experienced in Vietnam. The book became fiction, an action novel with a strong romance component.

“Overall it rings true of war and what it was like to serve in Vietnam. Much of the book details the fighting, the casualties and the heartbreak and the trauma experienced by the soldiers. The book also takes you on a dizzying journey when the lovers Tuyen and Ethan flee to other countries in Southeast Asia – Laos, Cambodia, Bangkok, Thailand ,and Burma (Myanmar).

“For those who would like to get a sense of what combat was really like, this is an excellent book, which began as a memoir of Vietnam.” - A Novel of Combat by Harvee L.

“Obviously drawn from the author’s first-hand experiences as a Marine serving in Vietnam, Running with the Enemy is a rough but occasionally heartfelt war story. … The book is sometimes too obviously drawn from his experience. But ultimately that’s a small complaint about a book that, on the whole, is quite good and has a lot to say about the nature of the conflict .”  - 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards commentary from an anonymous judge

Note: This novel—awarded Honorable Mentions in four literary contests and a genre Runner-Up in a fifth literary contest—was targeted by a flock of Goodreads trolls at the time of its publication. Here is the review from one of the Trolls, that I linked to the group of Goodreads bullies, who  never bought or read the novel and gave it one-star on Amazon in an attempt to sabotage its sales and my reputation.

“Lofthouse’s attempt at a 60’s-era thriller is cliched, trite and rather boring. If you’re looking for a good read, check out Graham Greene’s Quiet American instead.” - Miss M


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

We owe it to our children to combat Poverty and Racism in the United States

Lloyd Lofthouse:

Looking at that chart, I have to ask this question: With the obvious racism and discrimination that Asian Americans faced and still face in the United States, how did they achieve those numbers beating out even the Whites in every column? In addition, the Asian-American unemployment rate is the lowest of all racial groups. The Asian American divorce rate by race is also the lowest at 8% while Whites are the highest at 27%, African Americans are 22% and Hispanics are 20%. There’s more I could add to this list, but that’s in another post.

Originally posted on Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé:

An older friend of mine who is in his 80’s once told me that he’d rather be wealthy and unhappy than poor and hungry. Then there is the old curse of racism.

Racism exists when one ethnic group dominates, excludes, or seeks to eliminate another ethnic group on the basis that it believes are hereditary and unalterable, and in history there is no end to examples of racism. To this day, examples of racism may be found in Europe, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, North American, etc.

For instance, the persecution and murder of millions of Jews by Hitler’s Nazis during World War II, and the list of ethnic cleansings can be traced back to 350 AD in ancient China when 200,000 people with racial characteristics such as high-bridged noses and bushy beards were slaughtered. The history of racism through ethnic cleansings is so long and brutal, it might…

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Campbell Brown’s Selective Indignation with Sexual Misconduct in Schools

Lloyd Lofthouse:

Corporate Education reformer Campbell Brown ignores cover up of sexual misconduct in corporate Charters while lying about the alleged sexual misconduct in NY public schools. I suggest you click on the link and read the entire post at deutsch29.

Originally posted on deutsch29:

In April 2014, anti-union “activist” Campbell Brown was honored at anti-union, New York charter queen Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy Spring Benefit. Her 12-minute talk can be viewed here:

At the event, Brown spoke about “the issue that took her from being a supporter of this [charter school] cause to an activist in the fight.” She then states that it was her reading an article in the New York Daily News “a couple of years ago” involving “fourteen teachers who had been found guilty of sexual misconduct with kids, and they had kept their jobs.” Brown says the she “was so horrified by this.”

Brown says that the above is made possible “by this crazy law supported by the teachers union.”

Now, here is where Brown’s indignation hits a snag.

First of all, the “crazy law” is called Section 3020a. Section 3020a is referenced in the United Federation of Teachers…

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Suspensions and Expulsions in the US Public Schools—what does that 3.3 million really mean?

Originally posted on Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé:

(Scroll down for the Second and First updates followed by the actual post that started a Twitter storm)

This afternoon, I received an e-mail informing me that because of my racist tendencies I was being removed as a member of the TBATS. I can only assume that this is because I think poverty and single parent homes are more of a factor in the behavior of students who are suspended from school than racism.

Therefore, this update includes a new chart with more information. Using the information in this chart, we will attempt to compare the ratio of White children living in poverty and single parent homes to see if the suspensions of Blacks, Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islander students was equal or close to the ratio of White students who were suspended.

Third Update and Exanded Chart

  • Using 22.3% of total white students living in poverty and 5.1% of total white students who…

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The Insane and criminal demands of President Obama, Arne Duncan and Bill Gates on our public schools and children

Originally posted on Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé:

President Obama visited the University of Chicago in January 2014, and said, “We know that not enough low-income students are taking the steps required to prepare for college.”  He said this because No Child Left Behind, his Race To The Top program, and Bill Gates Common Core agenda demands that 100% of all U.S. children grow up to be college and career ready when they leave high school.

Why do I think this is an insane goal and why do I allege that Obama, Arne Duncan and Bill Gates are liars and criminals.

The first part of my answer is simple. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013–2014 school year was $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

Presidents G. W. Bush and Obama are selling parents and children a fantasy that everyone can go…

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More than a novel—an education about what will happen to the U.S. without labor unions and justice

Grisham’s “Gray Mountain” offers an education of what the United States will become without labor unions and justice.

I’ve read most if not all of John Grisham’s work, and I was not disappointed by Gray Mountain. What I really appreciated was the door he opened into a world I had no idea still existed in the United States.

If you think that working people are safe from corporate greed, you should read this book and pay attention.

While the characters and the plot carry the story along, the actual history of Appalachia and Big Coal threads its way through the novel like blood flowing through the Carotid Artery from the heart to our brain but in this case, the blood is coal and it is clogging the artery contributing to brutal poverty and causing much suffering and early deaths. I think Grisham is evolving into a muckraking author-journalist in the best tradition of the golden age of journalism.

The coal industry is plundering Appalachia. It is a tragedy what the greedy, cold blooded corporate industry is doing to both the environment and the people who live there.  The results are hundreds of mountains decapitated, forests obliterated, water polluted, wildlife displaced and people made sick with cancer, lung and heart disease, and Grisham doesn’t  spare us from any of these inhuman corporate crimes.

What has the coal industry done and what is it still doing? Let me summarize—Appalachia, a region of extraordinary beauty and natural diversity, is under attack. Mountaintop removal is strip mining on steroids—a radically destructive form of surface mining whereby coal companies bulldoze the forest, decapitate the peaks with explosives, push the shattered rubble into adjacent valleys, and destroy the ecologically crucial headwater streams that had been there before.

If you read this book—or listen to it like I did—Grisham will take you on a dangerous and dramatic ride with Samantha Kofer, a 29-year-old graduate of Georgetown and Columbia Law who was earning $180,000 a year before the story takes her from the world of big law to a non-profit, legal aid clinic in the heart of coal country.

The story Grisham paints makes clear that the labor unions that once offered some protection for the workers in this industry were broken years earlier by the crooked, brutal, greedy coal companies, and what makes this story even more tragic is that in the real world where we live, corporations and billionaire oligarchs are waging endless war against labor unions all across America to do the same thing that the coal industry did several decades ago. If you want to discover what the U.S. will look like for workers without labor unions, learn with Samantha Kofer.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Runner Up
2015 Florida Book Festival


Honorable Mentions
2014 Southern California Book Festival
2014 New England Book Festival
2014 London Book Festival

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Honorable Mention in Biography/Autobiography at 2014 Southern California Book Festival

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The broken tooth, the coming crown, the 2014 Florida Book Festival and Writers Digest

Originally posted on Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé:

I broke a tooth over the weekend and visited the dentist this afternoon spending a few hours in THE chair. I hate those shots that numb your jaw making it feel swollen like a puffy blimp. In a few days I will return for the fitting of the crown.

But when I returned home with that numb jaw, there was a surprise—a double dose of what I think was good news.

“”2014 Florida Book Festial and Comment by Writers Digest Judge“Crazy is Normal, a classroom expose” didn’t earn any awards from Writer’s Digest, but the judge’s comments were appreciated. :o)

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a…

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