Monday, September 20, 2010

Importance of Book Covers

We’ve talked before here on Straight From Hel about how important book covers are. Arielle Ford over on The Huffington Post agrees. She calls your bookcover “Your #1 Best Marketing Tool – Guaranteed!”
…in publishing, there is a magnificent tool that changes the playing field. A tool that, if created and used properly, can quickly and seamlessly create intense interest in you, your creation and your expertise.

The magic key that opens the door to success with any book is your book cover.
I don’t know that the cover is the “magic key that opens the door to success,” but it is important. You’re in a store. You pick up a book, look at the cover, and set it down. The cover doesn’t appeal to you.

But a compelling book cover can draw the reader in and get them to read the back cover blurb, read the opening, and then buy your book.
Simply put, a book cover, designed and leveraged properly, and coupled with your great content can do all this for you and much more.
Those of you who have self-published, did you go the extra mile or the extra bucks to make your covers professional looking? Or do you depend on the content to sell your book?

35 comments:

  1. As the spouse of a freelance book-cover artist, I'll be interested to get some perspective on this. Once I set my bookcovers for my upcomings, I know exactly what is going to be there for the cover.

    Helpful hint for certain is know what the heck you want. Artists work so much better with specific direction. It saves time and money to already have an idea, even rudimentary line drawings.

    We're currently going through pain and suffering with a client that states she'll know it when she sees it. Ouch.

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  2. Whenever I talk to book clubs or do panels at bookstores, the #1 question I get is on my covers! And that's the big thing I know nothing about..art dept just takes over that part. But it makes me realize HOW important a cover is.

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  3. Covers *are* so important! One of the advantages of self-publishing is that you can choose an appropriate cover. Have you read this article by Judy

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  4. Oh BLAST!!!!!!! My link didn't work! I wonder what I did wrong. Should be have you read this article by Lione Shriver on book covers - it's worth the read.
    <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/sep/02/publishers-ghettoise-women-writers-and-readers>Lionel Shriver on book covers</a>

    or if that still doesn't work cut and paste http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/sep/02/publishers-ghettoise-women-writers-and-readers>

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  5. Covers are important! I've loved the designs created for mine, although I realize they are not the norm. But I also think most YA covers are awful.

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  6. They say the story's hook is so important, to get the reader to keep reading. You can almost think of a book cover as the very, very first hook of that story, drawing the reader in. I love an effective cover.

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  7. I'm totally a cover girl, but I'll only buy the book if the blurb intices me. But for me to read the blurb, you need an awesome cover to get me to pick up the book in the first place.

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  8. The book's cover is always what draws me in. And I was thrilled when I finally saw my cover. The illustrator did an awesome job.

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Great topic, Helen, and one timely for me. With my latest novel just out, my publisher and I struggled to get the best cover for A War Of Her Own. I really didn't like the one he came up with and we ended up finding a delightful young woman graphic artist who worked with us patiently until we both fell in love with what she did. Amanda Cobb, in Austin, Texas was wanting to break into book cover design and did so with a very intriguing cover for the book. People rave over how well it fits the historical period and how it draws the reader in. Couldn't be more please.

    So, yes, I agree. A good cover can make the difference in whether someone picks up the book or not.Sylvia Dickey Smith

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  11. I think the cover is that all-important first hook as well, even for online buying or ebooks. They still see that cover on the computer screen. I've ignored books where the cover doesn't appeal to me.
    Like Carrie said, the indie author has to have a fair idea of what they want to see when presenting an idea to the artist.
    I feel sorry for authors stuck with a cover they don't like because the publisher didn't let them have a say in it.

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  12. I spent a great deal of time on the cover of my memoir. I was lucky enough to have taken a photograph that graphically represented what my memoir is about. If not, I would have hired a graphic designer to create one. It's definitely work spending the bucks to get a professional cover. Mine was professionally designed, but the photograph was mine.
    Karen

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  13. Book covers are very important and I've noticed that more and more publishers--especially smaller presses--are using photographs instead of artist's work--to save money, and not always with good results.

    I'm always attracted to beautiful book covers and will pick up a nicely designed book regardless of the subject matter.

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  14. I think the cover is really important. I've bought books by authors I didn't know because the cover or title enticed me to pick it up and read the back blurb.

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  15. As an artist, the book cover is the first thing that attracts me, then I might turn the book over and read some of the back info. But if I don't like something about the cover, I probably won't buy the book.
    For an author, the cover is really important so if you have input, choose well!

    Monti,
    MaryMontagueSikes

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  16. As a reader, I think the cover is of utmost importance and can't figure out why some authors and publishers don't pay more attention to them.

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  17. Thank you Judy. I went to link and noticed it wouldn't work.

    I agree with all of you. The cover is important. I check it out and it can entice me to read the cover blurb or to put the book back on the shelf.

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  18. They're so very important. Once I'm in a bookstore they either draw me or push me and that gravitational force often results in what I do with my money. While it's not enough to have a good cover it does strike me as something as getting an interview for a job. You want that opportunity to share what you know, to engage the interviewer/reader, and hopefully intrigue them with the stuff in between/underneath the visage presented. Thanks for sharing, Helen!

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  19. I went the extra mile. Paid my nephew $100 to desing my book cover. Do you think its worth it? I do.


    Stephen Tremp

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  20. Covers are important. It's the first impression you get of a book.

    Judy: You have forgotten the ending " after the URL (the stuff after href=)

    Cold As Heaven

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  21. Your nephew did a great job, Stephen.

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  22. I had an artist do a new cover for my upcoming re-issue of Pilikia Is My Business in ebook format. One thing I noticed with the iPad is that a lot of covers in the iBook and Nook stores are simply shrunken versions of the hardback covers and they fail to grab attention. Cover artists need to come up with new standards for covers of books that will be sold in an ebook store.

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  23. I'm just getting my toes wet with self-publishing, as I put a book of my newspaper columns together and am working with Amazon's Createspace to publish it. I hired a professional to design my cover. I have to say, I wasn't certain what I wanted. I explained who my audience is, showed him covers of books by people my audience likes, and he came back with three samples. We took one and fussed with it briefly - I tried to be a good client and be as specific as possible.

    Here's the cover, on my blog. I'm happy with it, but I'll let you know what the public thinks! http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com/2010/09/ball-she-is-rolling.html

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  24. I'm such a fan of art that it's always the cover that draws me to a book by an author I'm not familiar with. But I'm so particular about content that the blurb and the first page have to win me the rest of the way. Lots of great art on those shelves, lots of mediocre writing.

    Great post. Thanks so much.

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  25. If the cover doesn't grab me I don't even bother with anything else. A few times though it grabbed but in the end hadn't a darn thing to do with the content. I hate when that happens.

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  26. I so agree with her, Helen. We're a visual lot and I'm the first to admit the cover is what draws me if I don't know the author and even when I do.

    If ever I went the small press route, let me tell you, no way would I photoshop my cover. I'd hire a professional to do the cover. Sad to say, there are way too many self or small press books out there that do photoshop and you can tell it and in this case it definitely limits catching the reader to notice the content.

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  27. Mark, what should be different? Do you think ebooks should have new covers different from print books? Or something that shows up better in the smaller size?

    Gayle, I zipped over to your post about your cover. It's cute!

    I agree, Mary. That's annoying.

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  28. I agree that book covers are really important. At one signing, someone wanted to buy my poster of the book cover instead of the actual book. Go figure.

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  29. Jane, maybe it would be a good idea to have small pictures made of your cover and sell them at signings. Just a thought....

    Carrie, I share your pain over the client who doesn't know what he or she wants. Had clients like that when I was doing PR work and it is most frustrating, because my client did have a sense of what he wanted, he just wanted to challenge me. He did that alright. LOL

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  30. Helen,

    Yes, I think it should be something that shows up better in the smaller size. it should be distinctive and easily identifiable. A lot of the covers in the iBook store appear as nothing but a smudge of color.

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  31. I had a 'bad' cover once. The cover didn't represent the content well at all. I could tell in my sales and it was commented upon in reviews.
    My fantasy series has had great covers and I can only hope it helps with sales. I wonder how many readers realize how little control authors often have over the art work on their books?

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  32. I think book covers matter very much. We're humans, humans are drawn to things that attract them

    Great post as usual!

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  33. Now, that's a good cover, Jane!

    Thanks, Mark. I don't have an eReader, so I was wondering.

    True, Susan. If you're published with a big house, you have little control.

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  34. As a book illustrator I often wish I had more control over how my covers look, but then again I'm sure the author does, too. If there is a dedicated designer on the team I'm usually pretty cool with whatever they create, though.

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  35. One day... But I really love the cover Gypsy Shadow gave me. Interesting to compare real covers with those offered by self-publishing places.

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