Why Book Covers are So Important by Veronica Thatcher
Book covers. A common mistake that most orthodox-minded writers make is that they don’t pay attention to the book cover. After all, there is an age-old maxim about it. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” So, writers think, who in hell cares for the cover?
Rookie mistake. In today’s modern world, no one follows maxims. If they did, life would be much, much simpler. Everyone, in fact, does the very opposite. They do judge a book by its cover. And why shouldn’t they?
Let’s face it, book covers are like first impressions. The cover is the first thing you see when you pick up a book. You read the back matter – the synopsis and author biography much later. Just like first impressions are the most important, so are book covers. If you fail to make a compelling first impression, whatever chance you did have is down the drain.
While picking out the cover of my debut novel, A Way Back Into Love, I was over-obsessed with finding the perfect cover for my book. I spent all day and all night, every day, on stock image websites like Shutterstock and Adobe Stock. I was driving myself, my mother and my project manager so crazy that my mother finally gave up and said it. “Why do you care so much about the cover? The book is what matters the most! People are gonna be reading the book or gawking at your cover all day long?”
Oh, Ma! If only you knew. As I said, orthodox-minded people from the 90s who have this stereotypical notion that no one judges a book by its cover and that if a book is good, it will sell even if the author sits inside the four walls of his/her room all day and does nothing to market it, will never understand that the cover of a book is one of the most important marketing tools a author has.
Covers have the ability to speak to the eyes that behold them. It can draw a reader in instantly, or repel the reader to such extent that the reader will not bother to flip your book and read the back matter despite the fact that your book is the next Pride and Prejudice.
An attractive cover is like flirting. It captures the attention of the reader and forces him/her to flip the book. Covers also represent the content of the book. It gives the reader a taste of what is to come.
A risqué cover often represents an erotic romance. A sweet cover in pink could represent teen fiction. A dark cover with solid colours could represent dark romances, forbidden subjects, serious issues, paranormal fiction or a murder mystery/psychological thriller.
After a lot of humming and hawing, a lot of back and forth, I finally chose a cover for my debut novel that I thought represented its theme. I was not overly satisfied with the cover due to my cover designer’s reluctance to add filters to it, and the cover may go under serious editing post release, but it’s OK for now.
What I see a lot these days is that most of the romance novels out there, whether self-published or traditionally published, have a racy cover or a guy’s chiselled chest on the front, even though the content of the book might be suitable for teens. I don’t understand this trend. There are a lot of graphics that can represent romance and still fall in the PG-13 rating. Why go all R-rated on covers? Just because it sells? Fifty Shades of Grey is not suitable for anyone below the age of 21, and it still has a decent, intriguing cover. You can keep a romance book’s cover clean and family friendly and still represent it thematically. A cover is supposed to hook the reader – I believe one should try to keep it thematic yet a bit intriguing instead of just exposing a raunchy scene to the readers and just give away what the book is about. Keep an air of mystery surrounding it – choose a cover that has a deeper meaning and resonates with its beholder.
In the ideal world, of course, you could choose a cover with a melon on it and your book would still be a bestseller. If you hold that opinion, then no one’s judging you. We are nothing without our own principles.