Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo: please give your feedback on my book cover

I’m reaching the final stages of writing and publishing my second book and follow up to Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest, and I’m keen to have your feedback about the book cover.

The book will be called Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo, and describes the build-up and journey that Edita and I took in 2017, when we reached the summit of Chimborazo in Ecuador after cycling from sea level, a journey that we believe may have been a world first.

The book includes my introduction to the country and earlier climbs of Ecuador’s volcanoes, as well as a training ride Edita and I did in Scotland when we cycled the North Coast 500. In keeping with my other writing, it includes a sprinkling of history.

I provided a thorough brief to my designer, Andrew Brown of Design for Writers, emphasising a number of key concepts.

Some of the more important ones were:

  • The book is intended to have popular appeal, and attract all readers who enjoy the genre of travel writing, not just fans of mountaineering and adventure travel
  • While some of the book is about trekking and climbing, it is also about cycling, and I’m keen to attract new readers who wouldn’t think of reading a mountaineering book but love reading books about cycling
  • In the style of my previous book Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest, although the book is about an endurance challenge, it is a light-hearted story of ordinary people doing something a bit special
  • This isn’t an epic tale of hardship and struggle against the odds in the style of any number of motivational speakers. Although exhaustion rears its head in several places, this is a humorous caper with plenty of jokes.
  • Although some of the story takes place in Scotland, its main focus is the volcanoes of Ecuador
  • The cover needs to fit the theme of my previous book, and feel like one of a series, so that readers might be tempted to read both books.

We’re at the first-draft stage and the cover is already looking pretty good, but I think there are some tweaks we can do to make it even better. This is where I would like your advice.

I have included the cover of Seven Steps below, so that you can see the kind of thing we are aiming for. The feedback I am looking for is very specific, and I would be grateful if you can answer the specific questions I have in the comments.

My previous book, Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest (left) and my new one Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo(right). But does the new cover measure up?
My previous book, Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest (left) and my new one Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo (right). But does the new cover measure up?

I’m pretty happy with the first draft that Andrew has created, but before I go down this route I need a quick sanity check from people who read my blog and are familiar with my writing, to ensure I will not be confusing potential readers about what sort of book they are buying.

My three questions are:

  1. If you were browsing for books on Amazon, would this cover (on the right) contain enough information to tell you what the book is about?
  2. If you’ve read one of the books and enjoyed it, would the similarity between the two covers tempt you to buy the other?
  3. If you were looking at the book cover on the right on Amazon, what other book(s) does it remind you of?

For question 3, feel free to suggest any book – it doesn’t have to be a book about mountaineering or cycling.

Thank you so much for your feedback. I plan to publish Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo as an ebook in the summer (if you’re in the northern hemisphere), and as a paperback soon after.

The ebook will be available to buy pre-launch for half price. You can subscribe to my email newsletter for updates.

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16 thoughts on “Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo: please give your feedback on my book cover

  • April 23, 2019 at 7:09 pm
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    1 – yes
    2 – yes
    3 – reminds me of a particular cover of The Ascent of Rum Doodle, and also puts me in mind of Round Ireland with a Fridge. Lastly, the cover of The Durrells of Corfu by Michael Haag

  • April 23, 2019 at 8:26 pm
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    1- yes
    2- yes
    3- I can’t think of any book cover that it reminds me other. However, you’re smart to maintain a consistent art style/cover layout as you are creating a brand which will serve you well as you continue publishing new works (but of course you realize that!)

    I wish the book was out sooner – my friends and I are climbing Chimborazo (and Cotopaxi) in June; would have enjoyed reading about your experiences beforehand.
    I’ve read all your ebooks and have benefited greatly!

  • April 24, 2019 at 2:15 am
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    1-Sort of-my decision to read a book is based more on the title than the illustration. The word “wheels” suggests cars to me. I do see the bicycle in the picture but I would initially think cars. Also if I wasn’t familiar with mountains and your blog I might not know what Chimborazo was.
    2-Yes, it looks whimsical and fun
    3-I can’t think of any specific book other than Snowden that it resembles.

  • April 24, 2019 at 8:20 am
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    1; yes
    2; yes
    3; no specific title but consistency is of utmost importance.

  • April 24, 2019 at 2:36 pm
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    1. Not sure about this. It gives me the impression that it’s primarily about cycling rather than climbing (given the images of cyclists and the road up the mountain); I’d guess that the walking bit comes first (from the title and the foreground image of a person off a bike) and then that you cycled up the mountain; that it would be written by a proficient cyclist (from the images of the cyclists and the ‘pioneering adventure’); that it would be about getting up the mountain rather than their being a significant journey to the mountain (as they look close by); that it would be about an individual’s journey (although there are two images of people, they aren’t travelling together). I’d also presume it was about a single journey up Chimborazo – rather than there being substantial elements of the narrative about your adventures elsewhere.
    2. Yes – the tone is similar, so I’d expect the same style in the writing. The images of the people are perhaps a tad more serious looking than the previous title.
    3. I’m not a huge reader of travelling/climbing books in general – so no associations other than your previous book; on the cycling side, it’s got a touch of the Tim Moore, but nothing else comes to mind.

    As an aside and it might well just be me, but ‘FEET’ is a bizarre looking word when in capitals.

  • April 24, 2019 at 6:09 pm
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    1. Not really, looks like a book about a cycling trip. You also mention that it’s about a journey from sea level to the summit . Where’s the sea, or some representation of sea level ?
    2. I think you should use exactly the same artwork for the climber (you ?) on both book covers to form the link. There are many books with similar artwork and the although both are fun and colourful , I think that’s as far as the similarity goes.
    Also, the image of the mountain on the first book cover clearly depicts a tough climb and Everest obviously jumps to mind. The second cover definitely understates the size of the climbing challenge – to be honest, despite the the minute Ecuador flag, it looks a bit like three circus tents somewhere in rural Ireland.
    3. The cover reminds me of an Enid Blyton book. “5 go cycling in Dorset (and 3 get lost)” or something like that. Sorry, showing my age !

    Sorry to be so negative – loved the first book and it has inspired me to do so much more than I would have done in terms of mountaineering. Really enjoy the blogs too.

  • April 24, 2019 at 7:29 pm
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    1. Not really. The illustration to me is rather misleading. Way too much green and not enough mountain. Rather than a person sitting in the foreground dominating the picture, I would expect to see larger pictures of a cyclist and a mountain climber/walker.
    Rather than ‘Feet ad Wheels’ I would expect to see the words ‘ Climbing and Cycling’.
    2. No, because although the style is the same, for the reasons I give in 1. above the cover does not adequately convey the content.
    3. None

  • April 24, 2019 at 8:58 pm
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    Hi Mark – loved your first book – inspired me to have a crack at Mera Peak.

    1. Not sure about the title. Need to ‘big up’ the achievement and emphasise the sea-to-summit aspect.
    2. Yes
    3. Only “Seven Steps”. Echoing a previous comment, would be good to see the same character.

    Good luck!

  • April 25, 2019 at 12:17 am
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    1) Yes
    2) Yes
    3) It is actually surprising how few books that I read has an art cover rather than a photo cover. I never really thought about this before, but it seem like a good idea to follow such a theme. It reminds me a little of a book called “Denali Curriculum” written by Mary Palmer, and illustrated by Shannon Cartwright (produced for school children to learn how to put planning and logistics together to plan an expedition on Denali–an excellent read by the way and should be read by any modern climbers that are contemplating their own trip).

  • April 25, 2019 at 4:27 am
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    What about From Sea to Summit: Bike and Hike to Chimbarazo?
    I also think Feet and Wheels is clumsy.
    Sorry I think the cover looks a bit like a children’s book….your adventures seem more serious than that to me, even when they’re light hearted. I’d rather see an exciting photo with you and Edita cycling toward the mountain. It wouldn’t matter to me if the two books have different covers.
    See what happens when you ask strangers for comments? I mean well. 🙂

  • April 25, 2019 at 12:11 pm
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    Q.1 It looks more mountaineering orientated as a keen cyclist myself who buys cycling books it would not attract me.

    Q.2 Yes the simillarity as a reader of your Snowden would attract me but if your trying to attract new readers is the simillarity a good thing.

    Q.3 As a parent the covers reminds me of an adventure book aimed at children.

  • April 27, 2019 at 9:19 am
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    Hi Mark – I’m a big fan of your writing (blog and books). Cool to provide reader input in your process.

    Answers:
    1. Cool cover. Ok as is, but if you are targeting more cyclists then perhaps the word cycling or biking in the subtitle is important (especially if not viewing the cover art… in which the bike is small but that’s ok). I think you also any a cycling-related work for search purposes. I also am a mountain geek, so I’d suggest making the cartoon Chimborazo a little bigger, which might mean off center to the left to preserve the green cycling in the foreground representing the long journey to get to the climb! You could also make the bike/biking figure a bit bigger per above comment. Again, just suggestions as the current version is quite good!

    2. Yes. I like the parallels in author name placement, font, clouds, and general tone. Going to buy this one regardless (aving climbed Chimbo a few years ago).

    3. Don’t know!

    4. (Unsolicited, forgive me…) I like the title a lot but what about “Wheels and Feet…” I think it rolls (no pun intended) off tre tongue a bit more and sounds like you cycled first and climbed second.

    Congrats on the upcoming book.

    Looking forward to reading it,

    James

  • April 27, 2019 at 9:24 am
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    PS – Maybe add an ice axe to the pack of the figure in the foreground. Chimborazo ain’t no easy walking trail! You could also reference 20,000 + feet and/or “farthest point from the center of the earth” in your subtitle to make sure people realize the scale of your achievement. Non-climbing geeks and even armchair climbers likely don’t know Chimborazo. I didn’t until I planned my trip there but that was before I got really into climbing.

  • April 27, 2019 at 7:39 pm
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    1 yes
    2 yes
    3 looks not dissimilar to the Snowdon cover in approach.
    I like it.

  • April 28, 2019 at 8:05 pm
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    Thanks everyone for all the really helpful feedback. I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response, and although not all of you read the brief ( 😉 ), I’m reassured by those of you who did that we’re on the right lines with the design. There have also been some useful suggestions for tweaks that I will take on board.

    Thanks once again. The final cover will be revealed very soon!

    P.S. I had plenty of feedback about the title as part of my beta reading process and I’m very happy with this one!

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