So we have all heard the famous quote “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but seriously how else are you suppose to pick a new book? Now I know what you’re thinking: the blurb, a recommendation or even how many stars it has on goodreads..but let’s be honest here, what do you see first? What do we all add at the top of the post for that eye catching extra like? THE COVER! But unlike the awesome cover I’ve snatched to catch your attention (yes I know you might be thinking, that’s the movie poster. That’s how great the cover was, they used it as the movie poster as well. Score one for that cover artist) not all covers were created equal. So what is the biggest problems we run into with covers? Here are my cover grips. These are all very subjective so please take them that way:
- It doesn’t match. If you’re a book nerd like me then you’ve done it, you know bought that book at 2am that has the most amazing cover, and didn’t read the blurb. But that cover, ugh it’s everything you’ve dreamed about! You don’t even need a summary of the story, it is the summary people. And then you start reading..ummm wait what? Maybe I accidentally bought the wrong book??? It’s like a bait and switch, you have a story on the cover that you never see in the book. Some covers have gone so far for me as the have aliens, robots that are minor characters or even one showed a main character of a really cool Tim Burton fantasy kinda guy on it, the main character was a girl..I never found him in the book!
- The oversell. Now this is the cover that does have something to do with the story, it just ends up being way bigger than the book. You know the cover that makes you think, this book is going to be 5 stars, guaranteed..and it’s just not living up to its cover potential. There are some breathtaking covers out there, truly gorgeous, but I fear them the most because I want the books to be just as breathtaking. You never know until you read.
- The undersell. This one is the easiest and yet the worst at the same time. It’s the ones where the cover is just plain old bad, and yet the book is amazing. Think of all the books you’ve passed on that are gold, or that later someone has convinced you to read and then you loved it. Now here is the cringe moment, think of all the books you passed on that no one convinced you to read that might have been gold..I know I’m not sleeping tonight either. I’d love to say I never would be so shallow as to just make a decision based solely on looks but I’m going to fess up here, I have an author I have read for 8 years that I passed on the first time because of the cover. They are notorious for their bad covers now but back then they were newbies and it made a difference. Fortunately for me someone talked me into trying them (very fortunately for me, I absolutely love them) but I actually put their book down the first time. A lot of people say that covers don’t make as much of a difference now that most people have gone digital and download their books, but I say to them, how do you pick which books your going to read a blurb on? I still look at covers on Amazon or Goodreads. I just don’t buy that argument.
Okay let’s flip this coin. I hate bad covers, you guys got that point but I’m sure authors don’t like them either. So what makes covers so tricky? Well this is what I’ve learned over the years, but indies if there is something I’m missing, comment! Back to cover art, Why oh why is it so hard to match? Here’s what my forage and gathering skills have gleaned:
- If you are a published author you don’t get to decide. That’s right, if you get a publishing house, they ultimately pick the cover they think will make the most, and here is the shocking part…MONEY. I know, I know, sometimes you see those covers and think how is a half naked man going to sell more urban fantasy novels? Or, really another really hot goth looking chick/dude? That’s not what the main character even looks like. Well apparently here is the stitch, they don’t care. They are hoping you buy the book cause you’re a UF freak like me (I mean fan, yeah that was a typo) and they hope someone else buys it cause their is a chick on the cover with a flaming sword. As long as they sell books.
- For indie’s sometimes $$$ makes a difference. Okay so you have this vision, and it’s awesome, I mean you want what’s in your brain to become print on your cover. And it’s going to be epic. But let’s be honest here, you have to foot the bill for the book, and you don’t have big brother who, though they would basically be making your cover decisions for you, they would also be helping pay upfront fees. You just can’t afford the Lexus, so you have to buy the Kia, don’t get me wrong it’s great, just not exactly what you were picturing in your head.
- You get the picture. Sometimes you can get an amazing cover but the story just doesn’t connect. Hey this is why everything is so subjective, maybe it’s my problem. I recently read an authors blog that said, sometimes a bad review is just the reviewers problem. HEY! As a reviewer I didn’t love that but I’m glad the author posted it, because if I’m the only one complaining than it’s on me. Now if everyone is complaining…
My favorite cover is
the sad thing is that this is no longer the cover for this book but I have always loved it. What is your favorite cover? Let me know!