Friday, August 12, 2011

The Importance of Covers

blog20I’ve been thinking a lot lately about cover appeal.

Wednesday, I went to our Borders’ going-out-of-business sale (which makes me sad) and picked up a book for my teenage son. I looked at the book, briefly read the cover copy and bought it. When my son saw the book that evening, he glanced at the cover, which depicted a dystopian scene of apocalyptic disaster (left). He said, “This will work. Thanks.”

Which bothered me a little. I made him read the back cover copy and he repeated that he would enjoy it. Then I thought about it…I’d really done the same thing. Looking at the cover, I knew in a second it was dystopian—his favorite genre. It seemed similar to other books he’d enjoyed—even down to the male and female protagonists on the cover. It made me buy the book, much as I hated to think it.

One of my editors called me about a cover earlier this week. She was preparing for the cover conference for the first quilting mystery and wanted to ask me what the Civil War quilt I mentioned in my manuscript looked like.

I hesitated. “Well, in my head, the quilt wasn’t very attractive. It was just old. How about if I sent you some attachments with some quilts that look similar to the one I imagined? And if it needs to be a pretty quilt, that will work fine. I never wrote that it was an ugly quilt.”

I knew that something attractive needed to be on the cover.

Then I’ve been busily working with a designer for the ebook I’m about to release. She wanted to tie in the book with the feel of the first, traditionally-published book in the series. She used the same colors, a similar font. I liked the simplicity and the humor in the cover. And….it looked good in a thumbnail, which is becoming more and more important.

I still like to think that covers are just a small part of a book’s appeal. In reality, though, I’m not so sure.

How important do you think covers are to a potential reader? What do you think the qualities of a good cover are….and, are these qualities changing with the digital revolution?