Of all the difficulties associated with producing a book one of the most vexatious (for me at least) is the issue of cover art. In traditional publishing, many authors typically don’t have a great deal of say in the cover of their book, and when going indie, the issue of cover art can be fraught with design as well as cost issues. Also, the impact of a book cover cannot be understated. It matters. It’s what draws a reader to pick up or click on your novel. For me, a great eye-catching cover is irresistible. I’ve picked up many a book solely because of the cover (mind you, I’ve put many of those books back down again the first page or blurb was ho-hum).
My own experience with book covers, however, has been mixed – with less-than ideal cover art for my first novel in hardback:
Followed by three wonderful covers for my paperbacks (all involving the same artist and model).
I think what made all the difference was that the paperback covers truly reflected the tone, mood and genre of my novels – with the right blend of historical details, female characterization and intrigue. Now, as I contemplate the possibility of getting my rights back and possibly repackaging/re-releasing these books, I’ve started to think more about the issue of cover art and what makes a book cover great…I hesitate, though – mainly out of fear that I might chose badly. As Bookbub points out, a bad cover can have a negative impact on book sales. Hence I sometimes get that ‘deer in headlights’ look when it comes to book covers.
There are some informative blog posts providing advice when it comes to designing cover art. Jane Friedman has had some interesting guest posts on her blog on this issue (see for example 5 steps to great cover art and getting the right fit). At the end of the day, all the advice seems to boil down to making sure the cover fits your book and attracts your target readers (something that feels easier said than done!).
When I look at my own book shelves, a few (mainly YA) book covers stand out. There’s the original Twilight series covers which (at the time at least) stood out as unique.
Then there’s the Scythe series by Neal Shusterman – these covers are gorgeous.
When it comes to mysteries I love the covers for James R Benn’s Billy Boyle series:
But a beautiful cover is only on element of the equation – it must also appropriately reflect the type of novel you’ve written and appeal to readers of that genre. If there’s a disconnect between the cover and the content then beauty alone won’t work. When I look at some of the list of beautiful book covers (such as Buzzfeed’s compilation for 2017, which can be found here) many of them, while certainly aesthetically appealing, wouldn’t necessarily make me want to pick up and read the book.
So what are your favorite book covers? What do you look for when seeking cover art for your own novels? What’s your experience been with cover art (either as a traditionally published or indie author) and what advice would you offer to someone thinking about repackaging their books with new cover art??