My first published novel bore the title Secret of the Scroll. I had suggested "The Secret of the Scroll," but the publisher said we should drop "The" as it didn't add anything and took up more space on the cover. When asked for a cover suggestion, I proposed using a picture of an ancient scroll, which is what the book is all about.
I couldn't have asked for a better illustration than what the artist came up with. As you'll see from the picture here, it has a strip of what appears to be a weathered document in Hebrew stretched across a black background. The document is colored a smudged orange, which gives it an ancient look. The title and my name appear in solid orange with a type style that has an old shaky hand look.
I've always gotten great comments on the cover at book signings. It still sells well since it became the first book in my Greg McKenzie Mysteries series. That wasn't my original intention, but after finishing the novel, I realized I liked the characters too much to push them off into the oblivion of a fictional trash pile.
So what went wrong? The plot concerns retired Air Force OSI Agent Greg McKenzie's problems resulting from a vacation visit to the Holy Land. He's sold a souvenir Dead Sea Scroll, all nicely packed to ship. But when he gets home, he finds he has unwittingly smuggled an ancient Hebrew parchment into the States. While he is gone to a friend's house, members of a radical Palestinian group coming looking for it. When they fail to find the scroll, they take his wife hostage. The story deals with his own black operation to get her back, including a return to Israel. The secret in the scroll is worth millions.
Though the cover looks great, it lacks two words that would have made all the difference: A Mystery. Without that simple addition, it is often mistaken for another book about the Dead Sea Scrolls. A new book came out last year with the title The Secret Scroll, using a similar cover with a yelowish-orange scroll on a black background. Its publisher incorporated the words A Novel at the bottom. The next edition of my book will have some new words as well.
Causes Chester Campbell Supports
American Cancer Society, Multiple Sclerosis Society, City Road Chapel United Methodist Church, William Henry Oliver Scholarship Fund