Discussion of books and book related topics, personal philosophy, and any other topic that happens to cross my mind.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
What does a cover say about a Book?
The first book I had published was Run Away Home. It did well and my publisher released it again a few years later with a new cover, one that went well with the other two books I had since published using some of the same characters. Recently I released it again, this time on an electronic reader (Kindle) with a third cover. That's three different covers for one story and I began to wonder which is really the most effective cover. Which one would someone who had never read any of the formats be drawn to the most?
Covers give the first impression a potential buyer/reader has of a book. That cover gives a broad hint concerning the book's contents. We can tell at a glance if the book is meant to be suspenseful, a romance, or science fiction. Over on LDS Publisher there was a recent contest to pick the most eye-catching or appealing cover for 2010. The contest made no claim to being scientific, but revealed only the opinions of those who voted. Sun Tunnels and Secrets was the winner. In the same contest last year my Shudder was a finalist. These are two very different covers, yet they both ignited a sense of intrigue that drew readers.
Unfortunately sometimes the cover is misleading and we miss a great book because the cover suggests the book would have limited appeal to most readers or that it is targeting a specific limited group. I found this to be the case with Meg's Melody, an excellent, insightful book that I believe would appeal to a much larger group than the limited numer who read OB books.
I'm glad to see the popularity of cartoonish covers is fading. There's just something about that style that shouts "kids' book", fluff, not to be taken seriously, when the book may be a serious love story, general fiction, or represent almost any genre.
One recent book suffered difficulty finding shelf placement in LDS bookstores because the cover seemed to imply an acceptance of gambling, which couldn't be farther from the truth. There are also books that lose sales in spite of a top author's name because the cover looks homemade and thus looks self-published. Though there are some excellent self-published books, the stigma still exists that suggests if a book wasn't good enough to attract a real publisher, it must not be very good.
So what makes a good cover? Graphic artists will talk about balance, white space, font, etc. I don't know a great deal about those things; I only know what appeals to me, what draws me to a book enough to make me want to pick it up to read the cover blurb. I know Annette Lyon's Chocolate Never Faileth makes me want to find a chocolate stash. It isn't even fiction and I rarely read cookbooks.
I guess if I were to name my favorite covers for this past year my choices would be The Rogue Shop by Michael Knudsen and The Silence of God by Gale Sears.
I'd love to hear which covers have caught your attention this past year and why.