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All Things Writing & Publishing > Cover importance

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message 1: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Thyssen (rachelthijssen) | 18 comments How important is a book cover, in your opinion?
I know they say 'don't judge a book by its cover', but I'm personally less likely to buy a book with an ugly cover and vice versa.
The cover is one of the only visual aspects of the book, and unfortunately it's the first thing a person sees. If it looks unprofessional, they might think YOU are unprofessional. If it looks awesome, they might think the BOOK is awesome, etc.

I've been making my own book covers, but that's mainly because I know how to use Photoshop. I also make covers for fellow authors (sometimes for a small fee), because I feel like many artists and designers ask way too much money for book covers. Don't get me wrong: they take some time to make. But many artists only offer pre-made covers... Authors deserve better than that, right?

So, what do you guys think?

-Rachel


message 2: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Kuhn (kevinkuhn) | 45 comments I'm split. If I'm at the airport or at a bookstore the cover is critical. It has to catch my attention first, then I'm going to read everything - reviews, blurb and about the author. If I'm buying a physical book, the cover is everything.

However, if I'm buying online, metadata is probably more important. Maybe I found it because I did a search on a type of sci fi. Or it popped up as a recommendation when I was looking at another book. I'm likely going to jump right to reviews and look at the review scores and writeups before buying. For me, online, the cover has less importance.


message 3: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Rachel wrote: "How important is a book cover, in your opinion?
I know they say 'don't judge a book by its cover', but I'm personally less likely to buy a book with an ugly cover and vice versa."


true. in addition to looking professional, the cover needs to fit in w/the genre/sub-genre of the book that it purports to represent.

Kevin wrote: "I'm split. If I'm at the airport or at a bookstore the cover is critical. It has to catch my attention first, then I'm going to read everything - reviews, blurb and about the author. If I'm buying ..."

Both excellent points. metadata is key for discoverability while a cover in combination w/a blurb qualifies a potential customer and the sample converts that discovery into a sale.


message 4: by Denise (last edited Oct 06, 2016 11:10AM) (new)

Denise Baer I think book covers are extremely important. They make a reader pick up a book, or click on the description. It's like any product. If the packaging is beautiful, then it will attract more takers.

I originally did my own book covers because I thought I could do it in Photoshop and/or Gimp. They weren't good. Since I wanted my books to look professional, especially my paperback covers (which look awesome), I searched for a digital graphics artist. She wasn't that expensive, and the result was more than satisfying.

As for premade covers, YUCK! I think it's horrible to buy premade covers because they're generic. Why would you want something generic on your work?


Leviathan Libraries (leviathanlibraries) Good covers are important. I'm a bit of a cover snob, probably, but... for example, there's this one book I see advertised on Twitter that actually looks interesting, but the cover is SO bad I just can't make myself spend money on the book.

I would rather see a simple cover with just the title, and the authors name on it than see a badly done cover.


message 6: by M.L. (last edited Oct 06, 2016 12:22PM) (new)

M.L. A good cover is important. Preferences are subjective though, so what works for someone will not necessarily work for someone else. I see a lot of photo-shopped covers and after a while they begin to look alike.

Just to add, I have seen some pre-made that I liked better than some of the custom. Eye of the beholder. :)


message 7: by Zee (new)

Zee Monodee (zee_monodee) | 0 comments I base most of my requesting of books on the covers (I am a verified top reviewer at Netgalley). So when browsing the books on offer, you only see the cover there and then you have to click to get the details and blurb. A good cover will always catch my eye. As I love reading lighter fare, I gravitate towards colourful and/or cartoony covers, so I'll also say that the cover already tells you what you're in for, with just one glance. After a while, you come to know by instinct what each type of cover is suggesting about the book.


message 8: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13815 comments Basing on the feedback here on GR, I have 2 'bad' covers (few liked, most didn't) and 1 'good' cover (almost overwhelming liked), but not that I feel some huge difference in sales -:)

On free giveaways the better covered book usually ends up with more downloads.


message 9: by Frank (new)

Frank Ryan (frankryan) | 14 comments I am writing this as a successful author of fiction and non-fiction, and perhaps more importantly, a successful small press publisher.

I think the initial chances of reviews are more likely with a decent cover. But a non-gripping cover won't stop success if the content is wonderful. But, on a more cautious note, many self-publishing authors seem to provide covers that make it obvious at a glance that the operation has been somewhat amateurish. Sadly, this is likely to ensure lack of review, and less chance of the book being successful.

For those who are interested, I wrote a brief guide to making a self-published book more likely to succeed. It is available as a free download on my website www.frankpryan.com.

Good luck with your writing.


message 10: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13815 comments Thanks, Frank. Makes an impression of a helpful and comprehensive guide!


message 11: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1020 comments The cover is the most important part imo unless you are already a celebrity or well-known author.

All of my covers are pre-designed and I love them :).


message 12: by Michael (new)

Michael Fattorosi | 477 comments Just sent an email to my graphic artist this morning to start work on the front cover... so that kinda tells you where I stand.

Im sure he will give me 3 to chose from and then I will use my beta readers to decide the best one. And I will still rotate all 3 on Amazon to see which one produces the most sales.


message 13: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan I'm with the cover is important camp.

I have a graphic designer, friend of a friend do mine. I have also set out to define specific series themes that will be used throughout the covers of the Metaframe War series.

For example the use of storm clouds and lighting as the background, and the use of a location that is central to the story.

Book two will be a classic large farm house in Maine, the third book with be a spooky English Manor house, and so on.


message 14: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Kennedy | 11 comments The cover "content" itself is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. However, if it doesn't have "quality" it will become a distraction.

As an example, Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore both have simplistic covers on their US releases but they are good quality and match the style of their books. They don't distract. Sir Terry's UK releases (the Kidby covers iirc) are significantly more complex but also don't distract. Some of this is from name brand recognition of course.


message 15: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9788 comments From my buying history, the cover only matters if I am browsing and have no real idea what to buy. If I have a preference, I ignore the cover and go to the blurb. Maybe I am different.

From the sales of my books, I can't see a particular cover preference, and I suspect metadata is far more important.


message 16: by M.L. (new)

M.L. If I already want to buy the book then the cover doesn't matter (or I'll buy it anyway). I think for ebooks a lot of people are browsing and the cover does matter.

Question! What about faces on covers. I've heard no, no faces ever; and yes, absolutely use faces. What do you think?


message 17: by Rachel (last edited Oct 07, 2016 03:08PM) (new)

Rachel Thyssen (rachelthijssen) | 18 comments M.L. Roberts wrote: "If I already want to buy the book then the cover doesn't matter (or I'll buy it anyway). I think for ebooks a lot of people are browsing and the cover does matter.

Question! What about faces on co..."


That's a good one!

I personally find it a little creepy when there's a (picture of a) real person on the cover who's kind of staring at me... It's fine when they look away or when they're 'drawn' or something, but otherwise I'm not a big fan.
And I like to be able to create an image of the characters myself
(in my head when I read), which is sometimes ruined when there's a person on the cover.
Again, personaly preference.


message 18: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9788 comments If you are going to use a person on the cover, it is hard not to use a face. I think the real issue is does the expression suit the message. I also think the face should not represent the main protagonist because you want the reader to use their imagination at least for that.


message 19: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1020 comments I prefer faces but not necessarily the giant floating heads. I like to see as much of the person/costume as possible. Using people on book covers is a great way to show readers what time frame to expect with historical fiction.


message 20: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin The covers of my first mixed erotica/fantasy novel and that of its incoming sequel do feature one person: a naked young woman seen from the back, along with a title. Visually, it advertises the fact that those novels are partly erotica, a factor that seems to attract a lot of readers (most of whom apparently are quite shy about saying publicly that they read erotica). For my novel already online, it certainly seemed to have worked: over 16,000 downloads after less than two years. Like they say, sex sells!


message 21: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13815 comments I think it's tricky/chancy with a face. Some/many of those who don't like the face are unlikely to buy the book..
Don't know if it's a good comparison, maybe it's like actors on the movie cast: they attract or drive away spectators. I usually don't watch a movie with actor/actress I don't like ...


message 22: by Denise (new)

Denise Baer Nik wrote: "I think it's tricky/chancy with a face. Some/many of those who don't like the face are unlikely to buy the book..
Don't know if it's a good comparison, maybe it's like actors on the movie cast: the..."


I'm one of those who dislikes up-close people on the cover. Unfortunately, I read positive reviews about people on covers, so I wound up putting women on my covers, but you can't see their faces. I'd rather picture the character as I read than have the book cover image blaring at me in my head.


message 23: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2151 comments As a species, we're rather vain. Appearance is everything when it comes to every aspect of our lives, not just books. It's a shame, because there are a lot of good books out there with less than professional covers (to put it mildly).

This is one that comes to my mind as far as bad covers.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view...

True, it's a short story and not a full novel, but it is free. And I really loved it. I thought it was great having the heroine as a damaged veteran, and the concept of Hero Points (your hero points in combat determining the level of medical care you receive) was fresh even if it did remind me of a video game. Only problem I had with it is it is the first part of a serial, and the author still hasn't put out the second part, so I don't know if we'll ever see it finished.

But this was, to me, a perfect example of an indie book that deserves more attention than the cover would garner.


message 24: by M.L. (new)

M.L. Rachel wrote: "M.L. Roberts wrote: "If I already want to buy the book then the cover doesn't matter (or I'll buy it anyway). I think for ebooks a lot of people are browsing and the cover does matter.

Question! W..."


I agree, the looking away or back turned, doing something, seems to be my preference as well.


message 25: by M.L. (last edited Oct 08, 2016 10:09AM) (new)

M.L. J.J. wrote: "As a species, we're rather vain. Appearance is everything when it comes to every aspect of our lives, not just books. It's a shame, because there are a lot of good books out there with less than pr..."

I took a look at the cover. It's more than just amateurish though, it's down right confusing. It looks like whoever did it is angry with his/her own story or something. I've seen others that, ok, are not the most polished but at least they are not confusing.


message 26: by Zee (new)

Zee Monodee (zee_monodee) | 0 comments There's also the question of genre. For example, in romance, you stand a better chance against the competition by using people and especially faces. Harlequin pretty much set the tone for that market, and they've always used people.

Then 50 Shades came, and erotica got the muted cover with a single object on a dark background feel, so much so that this has become the standard for erotica covers now.


message 27: by J.J. (last edited Oct 09, 2016 05:12AM) (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2151 comments M.L. Roberts wrote: "J.J. wrote: "As a species, we're rather vain. Appearance is everything when it comes to every aspect of our lives, not just books. It's a shame, because there are a lot of good books out there with..."
I know, right?

I admit I roam the free lists looking for books that look like they might need a little love from readers. I decided a while back to grab this one, but honestly the cover almost scared me and I went into the story expecting something horrible. Turned out I was surprised. Some books just have that ugly duckling thing going for them.


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