Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Importance Of Book Covers

What's the first thing to draw you to a book? Why the book cover of course. Then you
probably turn the book over and read the blurb. You might even open the book and read
the excerpt. The reason you pick the book up in the first place is probably the cover.

There's a lot involved in a good cover. If the story is about a murder, a depiction of
blood or some kind of weapon is a draw. Angels, wispy creatures might indicate a
fantasy, soldiers, or military equipment would let you assume the book was a war
story. A man and a woman together, especially in an embrace, says this is probably
a romance.

Over the years, I've had eighteen book covers. Some have been wonderful, and some,
tragically, were next to useless.

Why? A lot of reasons. The first is probably the cover tells you nothing about the
book. Or the artist didn't do a good job. But other factors play into what people see
when they look at a cover, especially a romance. The age of the characters, the scene,
even the models' clothing.

I learned a lot about covers with my fourth book for another  publisher. My third
book had been well received, but number four was a dud. I didn't understand why.
I had a friend who was well acquainted with a local book distributor. I ask if she
would approach him with a list my questions.

What I found out blew me away. The distributor said the cover of the book didn't fit
the kind of stories I wrote with the hero and heroine in what looked like modern
clothing. I didn't write contemporary romance nor did the book cover fit the series
of which it was a part. On top of that, my cover was a sunset scene, and another
author had a cover with a sunset, same color, so the distributors picked that book
over mine. It seemed the color of the cover was important too.

This friend told me the gentleman in question said the two big reasons my book
didn't get distributed (so, of course people couldn't buy it) was the cover was too
modern for the series and there was another sunset book cover which looked more
historical than mine and therefore would sell better. So, my book didn't make it to
the book shelves.
Today with the internet, that second reason doesn't apply like it did with print books, but the first reason really is important. For a book to draw a reader's attention, in print or in digital, the depiction on that cover must draw the reader. And that's why my latest cover for Champagne Books is absolutely wonderful.

There are five men on the cover and my book is part of a series about the lives of the five Brynn Ffrydd brothers. My heroine is shy, my hero a 'take no prisoners' kind of guy. And weather effects the story so the blues are significant. Just another perfect cover from Champagne Books. Thanks Champagne artists for all the wonderful book covers you've done that bear my name! You'll never know how grateful I am.


AstonWest said...

Covers definitely help. That's why Heroes Die Young gets as much attention as it does, for certain...and why I think The Cure will as well.

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I agree. The cover is the clue to the theme of the book. When I'm reading a book, I look at the cover to see if the protagonists look at all as I'm envisioning them -- sometimes they don't.

Cover art, and it is art, is a make or break deal. I miss being able to quickly see it on my Kindle, and will sometimes go to the online store to see it larger, and in color. Otherwise, the Kindle is my "best friend."

Big Mike said...

Insightful post, rep g. I did some research for a DVD entitled, "so you want to write a novel" (I'll have a trailer on my site shortly), and the intro surveys the publishing market. Guess the top two reasons people are swayed to purchase a book? No. 1 is a recommendation from a friend. Number 2 is the cover/blurb, so yes it is critical. My number 1 best selling novel in the novelty/gift shop stores is the same one that has my favorite cover. Its also the one that ladies pick up first at signings/shows.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year, (2008 and 2009)

Ellis Vidler said...

Terrific post. I agree with all you said. The Windsong cover is great--makes me want to read it.
I have a question: what can you do if the cover doesn't tell you anything about the book?