If you saw this cover, would you buy the book?
|photo by Sue B. Edwards
I imagine not. However, what if the title didn't look like it was written in blood? And what if the blurb said something like, "Two men form an unlikely friendship, as they team up to fight the battle of their lives" instead of "Across the twilight of fear, the red-drenched, terrifying dream begins..."? Might the book at least prompt you to pick it up and give it a second glance?
(By the way, Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin is one of my favorites. And bonus: it's not long enough to serve as a doorstop, unlike his Game of Thrones books.)
The cover of a book is huge. I've not bought books because the cover didn't hook me. They might have been incredible books that I passed on... And yet I did exactly that. I passed on the books because either the cover didn't hook me or it turned me off.
A cover that I love is Pat Wahler's book I am Mrs. Jesse James. It's simple, classy, and gives you (what ends up being) an accurate idea of what the novel is about.
Pat's publisher designed the cover. She was lucky. Pat liked the design. If your publisher chooses one you don't like, you might not have any say in the matter.
I was even more fortunate. Margo Dill (my publisher) let me use an artist of my choice, and when the cover was finished, Margo finalized it with different colors and borders/text placement. I really love it. It's striking, and the black, white and gray color scheme represents the fact that this is a story about racism--what the White people did to the Black people in 1921 Tulsa... and all the gray details in-between.
It also solved a huge problem: I had no idea what the main character--Henry--looked like. The silhoutte the artist cut out of the 1921 newspaper headlines allows the reader to form their own impression of Henry.
Authors--if they're self-publishing--hope their research and getting feedback from writing friends results in a great cover. Authors who are working with their publisher hope that either their input is considered or their publisher makes a wise decision when it comes to what goes on the (front and back) cover of the book.
In reading about what makes an effective book cover, I came across this article that highlights various books and what covers were rejected. I was fascinated with why some didn't make the final cut.
If you have a book (or two or three or more), I'd love to hear about your choices and decisions when creating a cover. If you're a fan of Fevre Dream, I'd love to hear from you (it's a little-known book). And if you're a fan of my book, I'd really love to hear from you...
Sioux Roslawski is the author of Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, which is the first book she has birthed. Most of her time is spent teaching middle-schoolers (a true labor of love) and taking her dog, Radar, on walks. You can check out her work by checking out her blog.