Friday, 9 September 2011

Judging Covers of Books

‘Never judge a book by its cover’, well that may be so if we are using books as a metaphor for people, but for books the cover is important. I am about to enter the very competitive world of book-selling and I want every advantage I can muster. I have found a cover designer but she needs direction from me, quite rightly. So, as part of my homework on book cover design I have perused over a thousand book covers to see what catches my eye. It was an interesting exercise. Here are a few of the covers that made me look twice.
 


I like this because of the colours blue and green, the title is clear, it has symbols of WWI without it being warlike, it hints at what is within. The cover is almost in direct contrast to the title, i.e. war in the title but, apart from the darker clouds, a peaceful feel to the cover. Bad points – author’s name is lost at the bottom.





Once again the colour blue is in evidence. The subject matter is hinted at – Algiers represented by fuzzy palms. The title and author’s name are clear and the eye moves down from the title and is captured by the white palms.



These I do not like! Chick Lit is what it says to me and chick lit I do not read as a general rule. I would be put off by this, and so would men.  This style would narrow my potential readership I think.
HOWEVER, they caught my eye.  I would expect my reader demographic to be female in their 30s and 40s so it might be a good style – still don’t like it though!!






I like the map detail. The title grabs the eye immediately. I like the sub title being a different colour. The use of a pin and string draws the eye and makes it stick. The different colours of the countries also adds interest. Once again shades of blue.
  



This is a memoir and we can see the history in the young girl. The title is reflected in the cover through use of shape – triangle. Diary scribbles and the edge of the map also refer back to this being a memoir. You can tell from the cover what to expect inside.





You can’t tell that this a biography straight away but the cover is very eye-catching. Once again blue is the colour (definitely a theme here) but with other bold statement colours/pictures to draw the eye in. Bad points – title not clear enough. 



This made me laugh; which as it is a humour book is good. Looking at the map there are not country names but words to describe the inhabitants – drunk, robbers, unclean! The titles are clear. Everything is clear. You know what you are going to get from this cover.







I own this book and the reason I first picked it up…the cover! It stands out – a smoking skeleton. I did not know the author, and the title I missed. Still, I picked it up from the shelf and read the back and a random page within…then bought it.





This has been a very helpful exercise.  Scanning through thumbnail book covers, which is what many will do when they buy from Lulu and Amazon, these are what caught my eye. I did look at the chick lit covers but l then dismissed them. They were eye-catching and they told me what I needed to know - so I moved on!!
There were many books with abstract covers which seemed to be predominantly  re-published classics. Once a book has its name known this is just a refresh and the publisher can use the cover to attract readers again, perhaps buying books they studied at school or have been lost in house moves. I loved the surreal covers for Kafka’s works (not shown above) but they are not suitable for my little book.
So what can I deduce from my perusal of book covers?
1.       Blue as the background cover is what attracts me, but will it attract readers? I like covers that tell me what to expect within (with the notable exception of David Sedaris).
2.        I want to be able to easily discern the title – I think red will do the job. As A Tale of Nine Cities is the first in the City Chronicles trilogy I think that City Chronicles should be in red and the sub-title a different colour each time.
3.       I need to give an overview of the content of my book but add a little something to make the potential reader wonder, and more importantly, purchase!
Easy then! Over to my cover designer Cathy Helms to work wonders.
I researched the book covers from http://bookcoverarchive.com

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