Guess who’s back on Writerly Bookish Stuff? Brianna West. Brianna previously guest posted back in March on Character Development. She is back today to chat about the importance of a book cover.
Over to you, Brianna…
Love at First Cover
Someone once told you not to judge a book by its cover. Then again, someone also told you never to swim forty-five minutes after eating, and we’ve all broken that rule, am I right? Okay, so not the same thing, but my point is this—how much does a cover impact your readership?
Well, that depends. Like us authors who prioritize certain aspects of our writing, our readers also prioritize certain aspects to their reading. And, as much as we might maintain we’re ‘not all about that life’ when it comes to martyring ourselves (and our bank account) in order to appease the masses, in the end, we all want our work to be read.
So, does that start with a good cover? In my opinion, which is always right and never wrong (or so my husband maintains), yes. Especially if you write romance.
So, here’s why:
Like any blind date, you only have so many things to judge whether or not the person—aka, book—you’re about to spend the next few hours with is either going to humor you, bore you, confuse you, or murder you.
And like the judgmental person you are, you’re going to decide whether or not you’re going to bother sitting down (or come out from around the corner you’re hiding) based on what you see first.
- The 99c Store Cover—essentially, these covers either have no real intrigue at all or look cheap, cheap, cheap. In any case, these covers look basic, thoughtless, and forgettable. When I see these covers, like the judgmental person I am, I automatically believe that it’ll be poorly written and edited too, despite knowing this more often this is NOT the case.
- The Grade-School Art Project Cover—these covers are put together by someone who only just started to use Canva or Photoshop. Essentially, they look handmade. Which, depending on what you’re going for, could be either good or bad. Personally, these covers give me the same reaction as the one above, but not as strongly. I give points for effort because I am a benevolent queen.
- The Cliché Cover—these covers are sort of nostalgic for a lot of us romance readers and, even though I’d never admit this out loud, they’re sort of a drug to look at. You guessed it! I’m talking Fabio with his perfectly silky hair a-blowin’ in the wind with the cute, petite, half-fainted woman curled into his arms. These covers, even though totally outdated, still make me want to read. Of course, some readers aren’t so nostalgic and will click their tongues and pass right over them.
- The Clone Cover—these are the covers that, especially in the romance genre, are becoming the new Fabio and half-fainting princess. There are abs. There are pecs. There’s water—is it raining or is that just pure, sweet man-sweat? And, of course, everything is just short of being something you can’t put on public shelves. These I have opinions about. While these are the covers that sell and, let’s face it, we likey all that delicious man-meat, they don’t really tell a story. Or THE story. They are purely eye-candy. And sometimes, if an author chooses to show the models face, the reader might not enjoy that sort of aesthetic and pass it over. Plus, with so many covers that look like this, your book will hardly stand out against the masses. So, tread carefully with these covers. As much as they may appeal, they may also NOT appeal.
- The Super Symbolic Cover—these covers are the ones that are usually fairly basic in appearance, containing one symbolic element of the story and putting it on the cover. Authors who choose these covers don’t want their readers to have the characters ‘decided’ for them; instead, these covers are offering the reader to truly build their own images. These are popular as well, and I’ve heard it go both ways as to whether or not they are effective covers. Personally, I like me some eye-candy on my cover. It’s what I go after. However, I’ve spoken to readers that don’t like an ‘image’ of the character being put into their head when they see the cover, especially if the image doesn’t match the author’s description. So again, tread carefully with this one.
- The Storybook Cover—these covers are the ones that tell a story. Like a painting, they intrigue a reader with images that hint at the contents inside the cover. Personally, these are by far my favorites. I love looking at these covers, because often, it makes me wonder what they have to do with the story that’s been written. And therefore, I think these are very effective for grabbing readers, especially if they are of quality and run seamlessly with their back covers. From everything to font, color scheme, and blending choices, these covers make you stop and look. Which, in my personal opinion, is the entire purpose of a cover.
There are more versions of covers, but I feel like these are the main ones I see, at least in romance. Paired with an incredible blurb and perhaps a few choice teasers, you can ensnare a reader with very little effort. But, like with everything, not every author is made the same. Not every reader is going to weigh heavily on the cover alone. It requires many elements sometimes to intrigue a reader to taking a gander. But it’s my belief that the cover is one of the first impressions you have to ensnare them.
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Permission to use content featured in this post must be sought from Brianna West.