Does Your Book Cover Appeal to Readers?
by Virginia Williams
The cover of this book appears to offer a deeply whimsical view of an older west coast rural existence, and the book delivers on the promise. Perhaps you buy books based on the cover – obviously I did. If you receive daily offerings from BookBub, you may have noticed (and/or downloaded) this title yourself. The cover 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 quirky eyes that makes you want to see and read more!*
That old adage “Never judge a book by its cover” has a multitude of meanings – but it is generally interpreted that we shouldn’t let first appearances seal our judgment. That’s true! But I notice the cover before reading the title – don’t you? According to author Nick Thacker, 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 publishing business suggest hiring a professional to design your cover – it leads to attention, credibility, and begs further exploration.
The First Impression
The cover creates that instant first impression – and it’s critical to maintaining interest. It offers a visual impression of your writing. Does it demonstrate quality? Companies spend millions on packaging. How is your packaging working? Does it project the image that you went to all lengths for your book, or the feeling that you just wanted to finish the book and get it published?
Covers Promote the Genre
The best cover communicates a book’s genre before the title does. The cover of the Mornings in Two Pan spoke volumes, and I had a good idea what it would be about before I read the description. If you think about the genre of the book you are currently reading, is the cover:
- Bloody, violent, or dark, suggesting a thriller, mystery, super-natural, or vampire story?
- Muted tones of blue or pink with two people embracing, suggesting a romance?
- Full of futuristic depictions of buildings and vehicles, suggesting sci-fi, YA, or fantasy?
- An authority figure standing next to a desk pointing at you, suggesting a nonfiction business book?
Rereleasing the Classics
Many publishing houses are dusting off old favorites with expired copyrights and designing eye-capturing new covers. Penguin Classics is having a great time with their successful reprints of the Jane Austen classics. The lofty and venerable Barnes & Noble began this practice more than 20 years ago with its “Collectibles Editions.” AH! A fresh new cover – show me the money!
Authentic Paintings from the Author
In an effort to stay authentic with my own covers, I finally used my grandfather’s own pasteboard paintings for several of the covers of his manuscripts, which were both painted and written last century. While my grandfather wasn’t a professional book cover artist, it somehow seemed appropriate to use those little paintings as they were originally intended. I have, however, also included some professional contribution for the others.
To quote another of those famous old sayings, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” How does the cover of your book appeal to your readers?
*WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT: This is a folksy, down home bit of western Americana. (But you already 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 privy to. Jiggs, however, is determined to discover to whom the skull belongs.
Virginia Williams inherited a steamer trunk full of her grandfather’s 90-year-old manuscripts, poems, short stories, and paintings. She is fulfilling a promise to publish his works. Look for Stanley McShane on Amazon.com and in your favorite eBook format, or contact Virginia directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virginia, what a great look at what we look at, in terms of encountering a book for the first time. Some advise looking across your field for the book cover designs of the best sellers. Couldn’t hurt. Now what, who, or where is Two Pan?
I also judge a book by its cover when searching for something new to read 🙂 To discover new authors I even used to go to this website where an excerpt of a book was given without a cover, title or genre, so one would decide if he likes what he is reading or not based on the actual text of the book. And then there is the title. I always read the title, after the cover it’s the secondary factor for me if I will even bother to pick up the book and read what’s written on the back cover.