So, I ask the question—What’s in a Cover?
Because I’m a very visual person, I look for an attractive, interesting, or quirky cover. It must have artistic merit, I like imagery that leads the eye from the title across the page to the author, or the other way around. I like space and a sense of movement. Imagery should address the content, but sometimes words and patterns are all I need. In that case, the fonts should be interesting and unique, and the placement of the title and authorship used to the same effect as imagery, to lead the eye.
Unless I’m looking for a specific author or title, then it’s the cover that determines whether I bother to pick a book up and look inside to see what it’s about (Yes, I’m describing my process with a physical book because that’s where my heart lies, but it equally applies to clicking on an ebook on a screen).
The cover is very important when I’m looking for a new read. If I don’t like the cover, I don’t pick up, or click on, the book. No sale!
The different will leap out at me, anything that is unusual or unexpected will grab my attention.
So, in my recent discussions, I was surprised to learn of the belief that people won’t buy a book if the cover doesn’t match their expectations for the genre. The perception was that the reading audience did not seek uniqueness, but sought sameness in design. This revelation hurt my heart. It also made me wonder whether the approach of uniformity limited sales to a portion of the potential market. Maybe it doesn’t matter, because those that want their books to look the same form the most lucrative corner of the market? I have no idea.
I, of course, understand that a cover for a physical book won’t always work in an online environment—where the size of the thumbnail images results in the loss of fine detail and finesse. The sheer quantity of books available in electronic format exacerbates this. Anyone can self-publish, some of it is wonderful, much of it not! So surely, in the sea of books available to readers, a well-designed and unique cover becomes even more important?
The other issue that arose was specific to erotic fiction, where the favoured ‘look’ is a torso, or two (I was directed to the top selling erotic fiction on Amazon, you should go there too!). There was much discussion on whether the model on the cover should be a single man, a single woman or a couple. In many ways, this depends on the perceived audience and the contents of the publication, but even here we diverged in our views. My view is that women readers want to see a woman on the cover—someone they can identify with. Almost everyone else in the debate thought the opposite. For me, unless the title of the book gives a clear indication otherwise, a single man on the cover indicates that the material inside is aimed at gay men. Maybe I’m just weird?
Despite not getting my way on almost every aspect I was concerned about, it was an interesting discussion and clearly gave me a lot to think about (hence this blog!).
I fully concede that this is an area I’m new to, and I’m quite likely wrong in many of my views. Hell! I’m sure there’s an entire field of research that I’ve been too lazy to investigate that would answer all of my questions! But I’d really rather hear from you!
How important is the cover in your book choices? And what makes a great cover? I’d be really interested in your thoughts.