Memoir Cover: The Winner!

I approved the final ebook cover design for my Viet Nam memoir, HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos.

Damon Freeman and the designers at are now working on the print cover (with binder and back cover). I expect they will present something early next week.

The final ebook design is a variant of the Chopper concept.


I invited feedback, and about 20 readers responded. Most favored the Chopper concept with the Window idea a distant second. Almost no one (except me) liked the Bullet design.

I liked the bullet design because, with the three war photos, it said war, death and destruction to me. A larger number than I would have expected said it made the book look like a work of fiction. Live and learn.

On the Chopper design, I requested four changes: Different chopper and people photos, larger subtitle and bolder line drawing of the border. The first two were for authenticity; the other two were to increase legibility of the thumbnail version.

True to my inability to perform good design work, three of the changes actually detracted from the overall design, so I asked to go back to the original and made one final change – I got rid of the people with the conical hats.

Overall, I think the final version says “Viet Nam war”, “secrecy” and “Laos.” I can only hope the buying public will be intrigued.





Cover Design: Decisions, Decisions


The book designer for my Viet Nam memoir, HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos, nailed it with three cover concepts.

Now I have to nitpick them apart, find reasons not to like them … and choose ONE to move forward with.

Any thoughts? Input welcome.


Hotel B





Great job, You’ll be hearing from me.


Next Step: Interior Book Design

I’ve written the book — my Viet Nam memoir, HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos.

I’ve rewritten the book  (several times). A dozen friends and fellow writers have critiqued the manuscript (over and over). Two professional editors have gone through it line by line, then word for word.

What’s next? Design the cover and interior layout or hire someone else to do it.

That decision is easy. I love to eat but I don’t cook. I love to read books and write, but I don’t do design.

Hire it done. And so I did.

After culling a long list of cover and interior designers from author and book midwife Joanna Penn, I narrowed it to several and finally chose Damon Freeman at, based on quality of design, number of books designed and cost (my allowance for the next two years).

Damon’s crew got the formatted interior pages of the book back to me in a matter of days. It looks better than I ever imagined it could, and I’m glad I didn’t try it myself.

Here are the opening pages.Laos Format Sample

I think it has a great professional look and feel, and I’m looking forward to seeing the design concepts for the cover.

Georges Simenon on the Awfulness of Writing

Writing is considered a profession, and I don’t think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness.

The Paris Review, Summer 1955