Friday, January 3, 2014

How Important is the Cover?

McClure's new cover art
This week, a wonderful friend and fellow 4RV Publishing author, Beverly Stowe McClure revealed the cover art for her new middle grade book soon to be released. The picture tells me the story is about a young girl, basketball, and maybe a problem with ego. Aidana WillowRaven produced the cover for Star of the Team. I love it. I'm intrigued. It's a winner in my mind.

This big cover reveal got me to thinking.
How important is the illustration on your book cover?

Many faithful readers follow writers they love, but what about buying from a new author? Polls suggest that the first thing to catch our eye about a book is the cover. If the cover looks interesting, we pick up the book, read the back cover, and if still interested, read the first paragraph or two.

4RV Publishing released my debut YA novel a year and a half ago. Long before it did, I learned the importance of team work. Authors create stories. Editors read, correct, strengthen, and clarify the author's words. Then comes the illustrator. 4RV asked Aidana WillowRaven to create a cover for my book, Victoria and the Ghost. WillowRaven asked me questions about the main character's personal appearance. She asked about the setting and wanted to know important symbols in the story.

The Cover of my book


My fifteen-year-old main character wore shorts and flip-flops with her light brown hair loose and always blowing into her face. The ghost brought strange happenings to the setting of Clara Cemetery, in North Texas. (A real place.) One main happening involves a disappearing hopscotch drawing.

Ms. WillowRaven came up with Victoria praying over a hopscotch with trees and a church in the background. The picture tells the reader something is strange about this place.



A book's illustrator is listed on the copyright page of the book, but how often do they get recognition for their work? Yet, their creation helps authors sell books.

My advice to new and old authors is work well with your illustrator. Give her enough detail to see what you see. If you disagree with the arrangement or something in the drawing, speak up and explain. Work as a team to come up with a winning cover. It's important.

Let me leave you with two other book covers, one a new adult A Shadow in the Past,  by Melanie Robertson King, and Prairie Dog Cowboy, a YA book by Vivian Zabel.

                              

Think about what you see in these covers. What do you expect? What do you like about these 4 covers? What do you dislike? Think of your own work. Do the covers represent the story?

I would love your feedback. Lastly, we need to recognize our illustrators for work well done. Thank you, Aidana WillowRaven. Thanks to all the team at 4RV Publishing.

19 comments:

  1. I'm not sure I'm too swayed by book covers (been burned too many times) but I definitely enjoy some over others. And an eye catching one will at least get me to look over a few pages.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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  2. Thanks for you comment. I can understand that. It's a reminder to make sure our covers reflect the stories we're telling, don't you think?

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  3. It's true about covers being an important part of the first impression of a book. IF you're browsing in a bookstore. An attractive cover will prompt me to pick up the book for a further look. But, in this electronic publishing world, I find covers less important. As an online shopper, I am usually there deliberately looking for a specific book or a specific author. Sometimes, a bad cover will turn me off, but if I want to read that book by that author, I'll usually buy it anyway, because reading a book on an e-reader the cover matters little.
    Just my thoughts. :)

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    1. Good thoughts. Thanks, Peg, for your insights. You do have a point. Okay, so 2 thus far that think cover art isn't extremely important. We do shop more often for e-books by the title or the author's name. Mmm

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  4. I think covers are just as important--if not more so--for online shoppers. A new author will get my attention first with her cover. If it's an ugly cover or looks amateurish I don't even stop to browse because there's lots to choose from. Remember...one chance to make a good first impression. Beautiful wonderful covers are a pleasure... Just like we hope the book will be.

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    1. See, Jess, that's what I was thinking. First impression. Love good covers, but as moos mentions, they can be a turn off if it's bad.

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    2. I'm with you, Jess. Working in online book promotion, I've seen some great covers and some not so great. I don't like covers that scream computer generated. If you can't put forth some effort into the cover, why would I think you put forth some effort into the writing of the book?

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    3. How much of that can we lay at the author's feet for not expecting and making sure it's professional? Are the computer generated only from self publishers? Questions I ponder. Thanks, Cheryl.

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  5. If a book has an undesirable or "homemade" looking cover, I would be hard pressed to look further unless the premise *really* interested me or word of mouth had convinced me to give it a try.

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    1. So true, Meliaka. We couldn't see the homemade part as well on e-book, I think, but definitely in the book store. The cover draws me or not.

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  6. I'm loving all the different perspectives. Keep them coming.

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  7. I totally agree, Janet. The cover will make me pick up a book and look through it. First impressions may not always be right, but at least the reader will not just ignore the book. Aidana always captures the theme of the story. I owe her a lot for helping attract attention to my books. Great article.

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    1. Your book sparked the idea. Thanks, Beverly.

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  8. In my experience, people judge the quality of what they'll find inside by judging the quality of the cover. A shoddy cover can imply shoddy writing, editing, and general apathy for the book and it's contents. Explains why 70% of all book sales, including ebooks, have the cover to thank. :D

    And thanks for using some of my work as good examples :D I'm honored :D

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    1. We appreciate you, Aidana. I so agree.

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  9. Janet, how very true. Unless a book is recommended to me, I choose one based on its cover.

    And, as authors we can rarely imagine how amazing the illustrator can make the cover. Aidana did the cover of my book Walking Through Walls and knocked it out of the ball park.

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  10. Woo-hoo! Sounds like Aidana hit several home runs, or in the case of Beverly's book, 3 point goals. Ha!

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  11. Excellent article, Janet. If a cover speaks to me, I pick up the book and read the back cover blurb. If it's as intriguing as the cover, then in most cases I'll buy the book. Maybe not that day, but it will make it into my collection.

    Aidana did the cover for my book, A Shadow in the Past and it turned out beautiful. A huge score there!

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    1. I like your cover, too, Melanie. Thanks for your input.

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