Book Cover Contest ‘The Mandolin Case’

        As the book draws closer, we have begun to think about a cover for ‘The Mandolin Case.’  I have ideas, and my agent and editor also have theirs.  I’m certain the publisher will have yet another vision in mind.  Before all that gets too far, I thought it would be fun to get your input, too. 

        I guess it isn’t fair to call it a contest per se,  ’cause I have been around editors and agents enough to know it is unlikely anyone will take a concept and apply it without some revision.  Still, if someone goes up with an idea that dominates the theme for the cover I’ll credit that on the jacket.  If there is more than one we will acknowledge that, too.

        Of all you who’ve read my blog a while are pretty far inside my head, but I thought it might be a good idea to stimulate your imagination.  To do so, I need to let you in on the major symbols in the story.  First off, the cover design obviously has to involve mandolins.  The instrument is credited in the title because the mandolin stands for the truth.  Also, my editor wanted to include some roses, as they are important in the story.

        There are other symbols with significant meaning, too.  The river is a major one.  While the novel is not strictly a religious book, that symbolism runs through it.  The river is quite redemptive.  Indie loved the river. 

        Native American themes are prominent too.  Like Marty Stuart and Tony Williamson, I have a deep respect for our Native Americans.  I never thought they were done right, and part of the symbolism speaks to those injustices.  Besides, Indie was part Choctaw, and he was the best friend I ever had in the doctor world.  And of course there was the Navajo, and…well…. uh, …I guess you’ll have to read the book for that part.

        You remember the mandolin case I had Marty Stuart sign?  It now has the signatures not only of Marty Stuart, but my old pal and mandolin young’un Darin Aldridge, my mandolin brother Wayne Benson, and Rebecca Lovell.  I don’t know Rebecca near as well as Darin and Wayne, but I’m as proud of her as if she was my mandolin granddaughter; the young woman is already a very fine professional.

        Folks like Alan Bibey (Cuz), Tony Williamson, and Mike Marshall know about the book, and I’m sure they will sign the case next time I see them.  I plan to secure the signatures of as many great players as I can.  There are some, like Norman Blake, who I have heard play but never met, and I hope to get them to sign it someday. That way as I travel around I can tell my readers why our music is so important; it is about our people who play it. 

        Anyway, I’ve saved one spot on the ‘Mandolin Case’ case where my friends know not to sign.  Whatever we come up for a book cover with will grace the headstock area as a decal right above the IBMA logo.   Wherever I go it will not only represent the book, but all my friends who have contributed in some way. 

        After all, not only is Ranger Dog is still in the mix, but there’s a beauty operator named after a Missouri bluegrass girl, a lawyer who goes by Ted Davidson, and a number of other characters who were inspired by my electronic friends. I hope the publisher will see fit to leave ’em all in, ’cause they are all important.  Someday I’m gonna see all of y’all in my book store travels and thank you in person.

        So let me know what you think.  The greatest pleasure of this journey has been all the friends I have made, so I might as well continue to involve you in each step of the process. 

        If by chance the publisher decided to use a cover design exactly as submitted, my agent said he would insist on compensation in line with industry standards.  If I believe any submission was influential in the thought process but not used exactly as submitted, I’ll at least be sure the artist is credited.

        I know this:  I appreciate all of you.  It takes a community to raise a doctor and my art friends in the bluegrass and writer worlds deserve a lot of credit.  After all, my wife couldn’t be expected to do it all alone, and this overgrown boy was quite a project.  

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: Book Characters, Mandolin Case, book preview, Mandolin Players I Know, Writing

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10 Comments on “Book Cover Contest ‘The Mandolin Case’”

  1. danny fulks Says:

    Your editor will have the best idea.

    • drtombibey Says:


      It is interesting you say that because her first impression sounded very good to me, and did capture much of the symbolism. We’ll sse how close to her first thoughts we stay.

      Dr. B

  2. newt221 Says:

    Dr. B. First thing that popped in my mind…The Mandolin Case kind of beaten up and time worn laying open. The mandolin is out of the case and leaning on it. This is by a tree (underneath it) that is by the river….on the ground are roses and eagle feathers(Native Indian reference) Maybe a cross on a chain hanging over the lid of the open case or a rosary hanging with a cross…

    Maybe a rose is painted on the side of the case or on the mandolin itself.

    • drtombibey Says:


      I agree the old case got pretty beat up and should be on there. There will have to be mandolins for sure. You will be surprised to find out just how important the Eagle is. (or maybe you won’t. You have proved to be quite perceptive) My editor also went for the roses. All this is gonna be fun.

      Dr. B

  3. Carmen Says:

    Well, that’s quite a mixture. I don’t have any design in mind for you, but you did whet my appetite for the book! I am getting excited about the publishing, and you and your wife MUST make your way to the midwest for some smoked ribs and pick for us awhile. 🙂

    • drtombibey Says:


      We’re gonna do it. I’m the tall gray-haired fellow and she’s the slight one. I’ll be carrying her bass.

      Bluegrass, the mandolin, and for that matter old Doc B are all-time underdogs. I hope the project speaks for those folks the way they would want.

      Dr. B

  4. Smitty Neuse River President Mississippi Says:

    Naniah Waiya-Dancing Rabbit Creek-Choctaws-open mando case at the river bank with picks,tuners, roses and polishing cloth in an open case.Please look up the unknown on the net.

    • drtombibey Says:


      I’m some kind of kindred spirit with Mississippi. I’ve got a notion folks in that part of the country are gonna know more about parts of Indie’s heritage than I do.

      Dr. B

  5. DR. B……as always enjoy the latest ramblings from a NC Music Man and one who loves it so much… Keep On Keepin’ On !!!!!

    THE REV Kill Nashville Pop !!!!!

    • drtombibey Says:


      Thank you so much. You are so right; old Doc does love the music so. I want to also see some of the talent you are grooming show up in North Carolina.

      The junior officers have assimilated the troops, and we will follow our leaders.

      Dr. B

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