Reading Time: 2 minutes

(Cheated on this post — five min a day for three days.)

When it came to designing the cover of Atheism for Dummies, the publisher did something unusual — they asked for my opinion.

This is not normal. Usually a marketing committee chooses the title and a design committee creates the cover. I was so nervous about the hundreds of bad possibilities for the title of Parenting Beyond Belief that I brainstormed and offered a title unasked. To my relief, they accepted it. I didn’t see the cover until it appeared on Amazon. After enjoying a mild coronary, I realized it was flippin’ brilliant.

This time, though, I was asked for input. Once my wife scraped me off the floor with a squeegee, I got to work thinking about it.

In a way, the only thing that matters about a Dummies book cover is the yellow and black color scheme. You can spot that sucker through fog. But it also has a single image.

I scanned the covers of the top 100 atheism books on Amazon for ideas. The most common is a solid color with text. Also popular are question marks, Earth/space, sciencey atoms, some kind of religious negation (a cross with an X, etc) , a Promethean torch, or a variation on Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam that I call “Adam Reaches for Bupkes.”

I thought about it for days, gradually making a list of ideal attributes:

– Embodies natural worldview
– Represents desire to understand world
– No religious negation
– Directly accessible/relatable (no galaxies or atoms)
– Wonder-inducing
– Aesthetically pleasing
– Not typical. Provokes thought/question. OK if connection not obvious
– Owns the illusion of design

I’d just finished researching the section on the illusion of design in nature, so that last one was floating at the noggin top. And that clinched it — I knew what the image had to be. It fits every requirement on the list.

GUESS FIRST if you want, then click to view the draft cover. Spoilers in the comments are OK, just don’t look there before you click.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.