Michael J. Kerrigan

Among the lessons I tried to learn in publishing three books on character is the importance of the book’s cover. Research supports the adage that, “You Can Tell a Book By Its Cover.” In the first two books, I followed the advice of my publisher who offered five suggestions:

Placing the photos of those profiled in each book.

Making sure a large number was also on the cover. For example, 10 Characters with Character and 7 Warriors with Character.

Including the word “Character” in each title.

Carrying on the red, white and blue patriotic color scheme.

Including one of the better testimonials on the book’s cover.

After reading a 2008 article in Psychology Today… “Why You Really Can Judge a Book by Its Cover,” I felt prompted to go beyond psychology research in order to consult with other authors. Their common reaction was…”Of course you can judge a book by its cover, that is why books have covers. Books are designed to catch people’s attention and draw them toward the work of the author and away from all the other works that stand equal on the shelf.”

In publishing Restoring Character in America (RCIA) I felt more confident in getting the book’s positioning and cover just right, the way I wanted, yet incorporating much of the advice of my publisher. I also sought the advice of character scholar Rich Lerner, one of the four character exemplars featured in RCIA. Also this book did not profile the stories of 10 Politicians or 7 Wounded Warriors but rather featured the essays reflecting the life’s work of the four exemplars. I did carry on three of the themes the publisher suggested in my previous book, namely

Prominently featured the word character in the title.

Continued the patriotic theme of having the American flag draped around  a young man.

Included one of the better testimonials on the book’s cover.

With the help my friend Rich Lerner and my lovely wife Donna, we ventured less literally than the previous books and chose a more metaphorical approach, having the young man draped in our country’s flag looking out over the wheat fields of America. The young man was subtly depicted to be a boy scout reflecting my hope in an organization that is restoring character in America. Donna chose the deeper color blue.

The initial reaction to the cover seems positive and hopefully positions the book’s mission (the decline and restoration of character) what it is about (character building, teaching virtue) and whom it is for (parents, teachers and coaches).

The next posts will address lessons learned in seeking book reviews, especially, on Amazon.




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Restoring Character in AmericaRestoring Character in America identifies the decline in character in our country, but then gives the reader hope for the future by showcasing leaders whose careers are successfully turning around this trend in our schools, communities, businesses, and the military.

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