As readers, do you judge a book by its cover? Of course you do! It’s the first thing you look at when deciding whether or not you want to read a particular book. So it stands to reason that writers want to create an appealing cover that draws the eye of the reader. For new fiction authors, cover art can make or break the book. What kind of front cover grabs the reader’s attention? What kind of cover art should a book display? A lot depends on the genre of the book itself.
The cover should be appropriate to the type of book. Readers expect it. For example, writers of romance want to demonstrate that their novel is an irresistible love story. How to do this? The clinch or embrace is a familiar pose. Bare-chested men are popular as well. Dramatic raised lettering with flourishes is always in style. With mysteries, cover art varies as to whether the novel is a light-hearted cozy, a dark thriller or something in-between.
A basic question to ask: is the book going to be sold on the shelf of a bookstore or is it going to be available only online? Is the novel going to be a hardcover, trade, paperback or e-book? Yes, it really does make a difference!
With hardcover fiction books, as with all others, the cover needs to fit the genre, be attractive, while the title should be easy to read and intriguing. The original cover art for the Five Star/Gale hardcover edition of my romantic suspense mystery thriller DEATH LEGACY did not convey the type of novel. I didn’t approve it, thinking it would mislead readers. Cover art needs to play fair with readers so that they don’t feel cheated when they select a book. Covers for mystery or thriller novels are generally dark and boding in appearance, appropriate to that genre. Readers expect it. Fortunately, the editor was open to author suggestion. We settled on a different cover for DEATH LEGACY which I thought better fit the hardcover and subsequent Wheeler large print edition better:
If possible, there should be a “money” quote on the front cover of hardcover books. This can be a blurb provided by a well-known author or a partial review from a respected publication. It should always offer praise for the writer’s work. In the case of DEATH LEGACY, Stella Cameron read the initial edit and provided the following: "DEATH LEGACY is the book Jacqueline Seewald's fans have been waiting for! Seewald has a rare talent for painting her readers right into her story setting." Since the novel received excellent reviews from both BOOKLIST and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY among others, I think Ms. Cameron’s blurb was a real help in drawing attention to the book.
Paperbacks need simplicity in covers. The artwork should also support the title and the genre. Here’s the cover art for the paperback version of DEATH LEGACY created by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery:
No reviews are offered front or back although many could have been given. Everything is kept linear. The boat on the cover, however, does relate to an important part of the mystery.
Let’s examine e-books. Online the cover is small, so authors and publishers don’t want anything too fussy or busy. The old saying “less is more” works best for a book cover that’s displayed online. A short title with a large, easily readable font and bright contrasting colors shows up well on the computer screen. Authors want to avoid covers that are complicated and hard to read. Plain, simple graphics are preferable. Here’s the e-book cover The Novel Fox created for the brand new edition of DEATH LEGACY:
What are your feelings regarding cover art? What draws or attracts you to a novel? What do you dislike or prefer not to see?
In celebration of the new e-book edition of DEATH LEGACY, I am offering an original print copy to a commentator. Leave an e-mail or web address if interested. Winner will be drawn at random and contacted within the week.