Tony Cordoza, Boy Genius!

My friend, Tony Cordoza, is a genius! Here’s how I know.

A few weeks ago, I announced the completion of two books I had started to write while in Hainan, China. As a result of the email to a few subscribers, I made a few advanced sales of the The Coffeepot Cookbook, as well as Living True To Your Self.  However, I hadn’t yet gone forward with the actual printing of Living True because I still wasn’t 100% happy with the cover image for the book.

Over the years, as a result of (1) being a “control freak,” (2) working under impractical, self-imposed deadlines (“I need it yesterday!”), (3) being prone to making many last-minute changes, (4) being convinced of my own artistic superiority, and (5) congenital frugality (read: cheapness), I’ve always found it easier to design my own covers.

For Living True, I had gone through about 5 different ideas for the cover (each having been posted on the site). So, after my 5th attempt, I sought the input of my photographer friend, Tony Cordoza.

Now, Tony and I go a long way back. He’s taken all of the headshots I’ve used on my websites, books, columns and for my media kits. He took the photos for the covers of the records for the groups I marketed during my record label days, and I have, in fact, used his still shots and conceptual designs for a few of my previous books.Image: The God Squad: Blow ’em Out Like Candles…back in the day!

He’s an artist who goes to great lengths to get things perfect. I remember going shopping late at night at a construction supplies outlet a few years back to get a brick which Tony then painstakingly chiseled for hours by hand (while I watched, with pina colada in my hand), lit expertly in his studio, and then shot for the amazing cover of my book, The Tao of Wow. Now, there’s a true Wow Master!

So, Tony sent me a few conceptual images he had laying around, and I picked the one that “spoke” to me and created a cover. I liked it, but, couldn’t decide whether to use it, or stick to something a little more literal. Even until just 2 days ago, based on some feedback I had gotten from a few friends, I had decided to go with a “rocks on the beach” shot of me I took recently. I wrote to Tony and told him of my decision even though I really liked his concept. He replied:

“I get what you are saying, but remember you started the conversation with the words you want people to think outside the box. The shot of the rocks, sea and sky is very pedestrian, expected, uninspired, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, mundane, vanilla, should I go-on.:-)  I am not just saying that because it is my image.  Forget what other people say and make the decision based on what the image does for you and what you see in it. The image with the boxes is very conceptual and thought provoking. If I saw that beach scene cover on a bookstore shelf, I would never give it a second look.” [that’s the sort of valuable, professional advice you pay thousands for!]

So, taking the advice of an internationally famous photographer whose work has appeared on magazine covers, books, ad campaigns, etc. I went with it.  So…

At 9:30am, I uploaded the files to my createspace account.

At 10:00am I uploaded the new image to the website,

At 4:00pm, createspace responded that the  files were ready for proofing.

By 5:00pm I approved the files for publication.

12 hours later, at 5:00am, the next day, I woke to find that a sale had come through the website!

In other words, in less than 24 hours from the moment I chose Tony’s image, it generated income.

As I wrote in an email to Tony a few minutes later:

The book wasn’t being actively promoted as yet, so the visits to the site have been “onesies and twosies” with no sales. However, I uploaded the graphic just a few hours ago, and the very next person who visited the site made a purchase. Since the various previous (my own) cover images were up on the site for many weeks without a sale, I myself attribute this “out of the blue” sale to the new cover! THANKS, boy Genius!! –W

Now, perhaps there’s no way to really know if that particular sale would have come through with the beach scene cover instead of Tony’s image. Perhaps my sales copy on the site would have been compelling enough to do it, but Tony’s statement about not giving the cover a second look if it were on a shelf is what pushed me over the edge. I realized he was right! I had been too focused on creating a cover that Walt Goodridge liked, rather than one that was compelling. When I looked at it from the point of view of a neutral observer, I found myself wanting to get in closer to see what the cover and the book was all about.

So, my point is this: when I tell you that I know a great photographer you should use, it’s not just because he’s my friend. Visit

What’s that? Oh, you want to see Tony’s image that I’m using for the book? Well, you’ll have to visit to see for yourself!
And while you’re there, please share your opinions and take the Living True Survey Before (and after) ordering (Also available on Amazon!)

Also, check out Tony’s new coffeetable book:
Contemporary Tribal Markings