Cover art is a touchy subject for many authors. Like the titles I talked about last week, cover art can pull you in, or push you away. It is often the first selling point of a book – and there’s the rub as Shakespeare would say.
Every single one of the publishers I’ve worked for has said that the cover art does not necessarily have to convey what the story is about. It doesn’t have to portray the characters correctly, nor does it have to show a scene from the story. It is a selling tool, period. It is meant to get a customer to pick up the book. The title and the blurb take it from there, but it is the cover art that pulls them to the shelf in the first place.
So what’s an author to do? Many times, our publishers give us forms to fill out that will give the artists an idea of what our story is about, the time period, the genre, and even the main characters (described in as few words as possible). It is then up to the artist to create a cover that coveys those items and still sell the book. I’ve often dealt with authors – and had to face the facts myself – that what comes back isn’t what we pictured. But we are rarely given the chance to make changes. What we get is what we get. And sometimes, we’re not even given the forms. Many larger publishers just give you the cover without you having an input.
Then there are the self-publishing covers. Though not all are bad – some are actually quite good – but some are so cartoonish and amateurish that they detract from the book. You look at the mish-mash that is one of these covers and think “how good can this book be if it looks this bad”?
So the selling points of a book are title, cover art… and then the blurb. We’ll talk about them next week.
What makes a good cover for you? What makes you say “Wow!” when it comes to a cover?