Thursday, April 28, 2016

How Important is the Book Cover? (And Where do They Come From?)

I’ve often wondered how important the cover is to the sales of a book. I have to admit, while perusing bookshelves, that a cover can catch my attention and cause me to pick it up for a look. For me though, it is what is inside that will make me buy. The description of the story on the flyleaf or back cover might catch my interest, or it may turn out to be something I’ve seen reviewed in Locus magazine and decided it might be worthwhile. If it is from a favorite author, I ignore the cover completely.

Many readers may think the author is responsible for the cover design. While that may be possible for the self-published, unless you are J.K. Rowling or someone of that literary stature, the author is normally completely at the mercy of the publisher when it comes to the design. Fortunately, most publishers do a good job.

I’ve had my writings published by three different publishers. In the case of an anthology, I had no input and didn’t expect any. I’ve had the experience of working with my own writing group when we decided to put out a self-published collection. Getting eight writers to agree on anything was a bit of a chore.

With the two publishers of my novels, they follow a similar format. The author supplies the art department with a description of the main characters, and can suggest scenes that may be suitable for the cover. I provide a synopsis of the story. The artist and publisher take it from there. In most cases what I get to see is the finished product. If I’m lucky, I get to make a comment.

I think good covers should give some reflection of what is inside. Two of my novels are included in the cover shots on this page. The Dark Lady is a bit of a grim tale at times. I think the gloomy cover reflects that. The Queen’s Pawn is a lighter tale, and while you may not get that from the cover, it is brighter and more colorful and does hint at the type of story you might expect.

I can still remember meeting a famous author and listening to him wail about the differences in his covers from the English version to the American version. One of them was completely way off-base, but he had no say and could just complain bitterly publically about it after the fact.


The Dark Lady, Dark Days, Dark Knights (a trilogy)
The Queen’s Pawn, The Queen’s Man, The Queen’s Game – due out 2016 (a trilogy)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 7)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge


Keith Willis said...

People (including me, cause I'm a people too) absolutely judge a book by its cover. Yes, the blurb or the first few pages is what will seal the deal, but just seeing a cover is often what will catch a reader's interest, especially if it's a book by a writer they're not familiar with. Loud hosannas to those dedicated, talented, and underappreciated cover artists that make us look good as authors.