Do you pick up a book because you like the cover? I do. I suspect most of us do. Likewise, we may be put off so much by a cover that we don’t pick up the book at all. If you are an indie author, one of the first pieces of advice you’ll be given is, ‘Hire a good cover designer’.
Covers have to be genre appropriate. Just look at the covers on our header here on Take Five Authors. Ellie Campbell has a smart, sassy cover that’s absolutely right for the tone and feel of her book. Mary Smith’s No More Mulberries is intriguing, exotic, a little dark, absolutely real. Janet Gover’s cover puts her book immediately into the right setting – and boy, can you feel the heat!
As we’ve had two cover reveals this week (Sue Moorcroft’s wintry delight for The Christmas Promise and my own summery and reflective Mistakes We Make), it seemed like a good time to think about this question. Oh – and it was prompted, too, by blogger Joanne Baird (Portobello Book Blog), who reviewed a new book, to be published by Hodder. It seems that Hodder are trying to do something rather different – get us to read a book with no preconceptions whatsoever. There’s no clue about the author and very little about the content. Joanne loved it – but she was sent a copy by the publisher. Would you pick it up in a shop? It’s a great gimmick, sure. With a Twitter hashtag #readwithoutprejudice there’s sure to be a buzz of interest around the title. It’s got me thinking, hasn’t it? But, let’s face it, it can only be done once. A few hundred completely anonymous covers would be extremely confusing – how would we find anything?
Which brings me back to where I started. Covers in today’s market – even for the digital marketplace – have to be attention-grabbing, attractive, genre-specific, give a feeling for content and setting and right for the local culture. This last point is interesting, and probably a science in itself. I haven’t yet seen the covers of my Turkish translations, for example, but I can guess they’ll be completely different from the existing ones. What might a reader in Turkey make of my gorgeous but rather mysterious People We Love cover, for example? And I adore my latest, Mistakes We Make, but I wonder how it will fare in America, where covers tend to be bolder and brasher?
Here are a few examples of covers from different countries. Jojo Moyes is a great writer, and I thought After You was even better than Me Before You. Here are her covers from (l-r) the UK, USA and Germany.
And here’s a title I picked at random, The first is the cover for the UK edition (published by Mills & Boon) and the second for the US edition (published by Harlequin). Obviously, each has been designed to fit with the imprint’s branding – but I still found the differences intriguing.
So come on, do tell – what makes you pick up a book? Does it need a hunky hero or a gorgeous bride? A couple embracing? Is the typography the most important thing? Or scene? A drawing? Pink shoes? Be honest now!