Perhaps you buy a book based on the cover–I bought this one because I loved the cover. It is compelling, isn’t it? You HAVE to look at it. Is it the face, the expression, or just because it’s a cow? There is something in those whimsical eyes that makes you want to see/read more. And that’s what I’m talking about!
That old sage “don’t judge a book by its cover,” has a multitude of meanings–generally considered that we shouldn’t let first appearances seal our judgment. That’s true! But I see the cover before even reading the title–do you? According to Nick Thacker of The Book Designer, you do as well!
Covers Get You Noticed!
How heavily does a book cover get you noticed (or ignored)? There is a reason so many experts in the business point to obtaining a professional to design your cover–it leads to attention and credibility.
The First Impression
The cover represents that instant first impression–critical to maintaining interest. It creates a visual impression regarding your writing. Does it exhibit quality? Millions are spent on packaging. How is your packaging? Does it project the feeling that you didn’t care or just wanted to finish the book and get it published?
Covers Promote the Genre
The best covers communicate the genre of the book before the title does. The cover of this book spoke volumes and I knew what it would be about before I read the description. But if you think about the genre of the book you are currently reading, is the cover:
- Bloody, violent, or dark? Is it a thriller, mystery, super-natural, vampire?
- Muted tones of blue or pink with two people embracing–romance?
- Ultra-future depictions of buildings, vehicles–sci-fi, fantasy?
- An authority figure standing next to a desk pointing at you–non-fiction?
Many publishing houses are dusting off the old favorites now with expired copyrights and designing new eye-pleasing covers. Penguin Classics is having a great time with their successful reprints of the Jane Austen classics. The venerable Barnes & Noble began more than 20 years ago with its “Collectibles Editions.” Fresh New Cover! Show me the money!
I enjoyed the blog written by Liz Stinson almost a year ago regarding the book whose cover judges you before you can open it. The subject of book covers, however, is one I’ve scrutinized before on this forum. I finally used my grandfather’s own paintings for the covers of his manuscripts written and painted over a half-century ago.
Incidentally, how did you perceive the book I introduced above? This was a folksy, down home bit of western Americana. (But you knew that, didn’t you!) The book examines three generations of a family living in a gritty, small town in rural eastern Oregon. Ox (Gramps) has increasing age-related health problems as he is met by his son with the startling discovery of a skull on their five generation ranch property that quickly has his son questioning all he’d believed about their family origins. Jiggs’ son, Nap, is caught between the warring factions and is too young to have sufficient experience in dealing with family issues he isn’t privvy to. Jiggs, however, is determined to discover to whom the skull belongs.
While my grandfather wasn’t a professional book cover artist, it somehow seemed appropriate to use those little pasteboard paintings as they were originally intended. To quote another of those famous old sayings, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
© 2016 Virginia Williams