In this foray into the blogosphere, I’ve run across passionate opinions about book preferences. There are debates about what makes a good “Christian” novel, debates about whether novels should even be considered Christian or not. There are debates about plot structure, characterization, and even topics such as design and editing.
So I’m left pondering the question: What makes a book appealing? Are there universal appeals, or is it all preference? For today’s discussion, I want to take a look at the most obvious side of a book – one that’s visible to everyone who comes into contact with it:
A good cover can make all the difference between someone passing a book by on the shelves (or on the screen) and having a reader take a look at it. It’s also useful in “freshening up” a previously released title, in order to (hopefully) gain new readership.
Hearkening back to Kristin Billerbeck, her Ashley Stockingdale series had a transformation. Book one, for instance, went from this:
One of my favorite series, Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion Trilogy, has had more than one alteration.
As with anything stylistic, there are also fads and patterns that happen. Take, for instance, DeeAnne Gist’s A Bride Most Begrudging, which was one of the first to use a behind-the-back shot of a dress.
In the end, it’s important for a cover to do a couple of things:
- It needs to be appealing. No one wants an ugly cover.
- It needs to match the feel of the book. No one wants a whimsical cover on a murder-laden, edge-of-your-seat suspense novel.
- It needs to look professional – do it yourself graphics leave much to be desired.
The Cover Reveal
Do you subscribe to author newsletters? One of my favorite parts of these newsletters are cover reveals – or, better yet, newsletters that share a bit about the cover choices and/or ask for opinions on them.
A couple months ago Denise Hunter sent one out that offered a link to a survey that asked for opinions on various covers for her upcoming books. In the end, not a one of my preferences was chosen (either I have horrible taste or just a unique taste…) but it was still a blast to get to see some of the decisions that are made.
Tamara Leigh offers some of my favorite info in her newsletters that offer her “evolution of a cover.” In these she (as a self-published author) chronicles the step-by-step choices and tweaks she and her cover designer make. It’s such fun to see what details grab her attention and then how the designer addresses those concerns. If you want to take a look, she has a page on her website dedicated to her love of the cover evolution. Find it here.
What about You?
So my question is: what draws you to a cover? Do you like the ones with faces and clear depictions of the character(s)? Maybe you like the ones that leave something to the imagination.
Or, perhaps, your opinions change drastically depending on the book and when it releases?
In the end – how much of a decision does the cover play in your decision to read or not to read?