What’s in a book cover?

How important is your book cover? Well, crucial enough that publishers will change their entire design if a chain store buyer doesn’t find a jacket visually appealing. And yes, even as a tiny rectangle on an Amazon page, it has to stand out, conveying the tone and genre to attract the right readers. Now that’s a big ask!

Of course publishers have teams of experts leading the design process. Great if you love the result. Not so good as a writer if you’re unhappy with the way your book is presented, whereas indie authors have the sometimes daunting pleasure of total control. Obviously the first step is to hire a professional designer but it’s still you, the writer, assuming final responsibility.

Ellie Campbell has gone through both experiences, traditional and indie, and we’re still learning. So just for fun we thought we’d show you some of our book covers, old and new.

       

Left is the original Arrow cover. Originally we liked it. Later we decided it seemed too juvenile and we really hated that it was so easy to miss in a WH Smith promotional stand of Summer Reads – even with two of us desperately searching.

By the time we commissioned the second version (right) we’d already decided to continue some elements of Looking For La La, our first indie book cover. Hence the photo cover with the bride looking over the fence. We feel she’s possibly a bit too angry – a real bridezilla – but again it gets across the humour aspect.

The next cover is the Arrow one for When Good Friends Go Bad. I don’t think Arrow knew what to do with us at this stage but they were trying for a more grown up look. A few years on we reverted the rights and our designer came up with the one on the right, again following the theme we started with Looking For La La (cover shown below). Comments, anyone?

   dfw-ec-tcac-cover-large  

Above, we have the three covers for our ‘Crouch End Confidential’ mystery series, Looking For La La, To Catch A Creeper and Meddling With Murder. Looking For La La was the first ever cover we commissioned and we were thrilled with the response. I honestly think we wouldn’t have got nearly as many blog posts or reviews without it. We had no idea the novel would inspire sequels but then, of course, we had to come up with follow-up designs using the same or similar girl. We particularly like Meddling With Murder, so colourful and cute!

        

The next pair are interesting because we recently decided we didn’t care for the old cover of Million Dollar Question and just commissioned a new one. Although the paparazzi do feature in the story, we felt the guy in black gave the wrong impression – he looks too sinister for what’s quite a funny romantic book. Or maybe as if he’s about to deliver a box of Cadbury’s Milk Tray. We like the new cover much better.

And then we have the cover for our just released box set of what is now the Crouch End Confidential series. We wanted it to have a ‘box’ look but also show the three spines. We came up with the idea of a file folder with polaroids pinned on it and the big red “confidential” stamp. Although in translation, the designer changed the file folder to an envelope, still we think we get the point across.

Anyway, as always, we’re curious to find out others’ experiences. What do you feel makes a book stand out? Ever have a cover you particularly hated or that you felt actually hurt sales? Or one that you loved above all others? And how do you feel about photo covers versus graphic?

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9 thoughts on “What’s in a book cover?

  1. Funny…when i was in college, this was my dissertation topic and a professor told me that it wasn’t interesting. I find it fascinating as to why we choose one book or another and often with a quick glance. Covers matter people!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, they say a picture’s worth a thousand words after all. And we do tend to be visual – they say we’ve usually made up our minds about people before they open their mouths. Why should books be any different? Thanks for your comment. I’m sure we’d find your dissertation fascinating, despite your professor.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Cover Reveal and HUGE Cozy Mystery ebook Giveaway – chicklit sisters

  3. Interesting. The Arrow covers were anodyne – they wouldn’t have made me pick them up! Your current book covers certainly stand out! And they place the books firmly in a very different category. I suppose the most telling point is – how do sales compare?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating post. I have to say I tend not to look very closely at a book cover when choosing a book and I can’t actually say what draws me to a book to take it off the shelf and look at it. And if I enjoy an author’s work I’ll read the next title without bothering to even look at the cover. Maybe I’m just not a very visual person!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: What’s in a book cover? – chicklit sisters

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