Book covers. They are both a blessing and a curse. A good cover can help a book succeed. A bad one can kill it before it ever has a chance.
Of course, that might be exaggerating things a little bit. We’re supposed to avoid judging books by their covers, right? Even if the cover is so bad it makes your eyes bleed, you should still pick it up and at least read the back cover copy or the first few pages to see if it might be something you’d be interested in, right? Right!?
But sometimes, that just doesn’t happen. A brilliant book might get overlooked because the cover art turns people away for one reason or another. And while some people might pick a book up and give it a try despite an eyesore of a cover, others might walk right by it and try something else, something a little less painful to look at.
There are all sorts of reasons why a book cover might fail to capture readers. It could be so bland and boring, readers don’t even notice it sitting on the shelves next to much livelier books. It could be ugly, something that causes people to cringe in sympathy as they walk by. It could simply be that the cover itself doesn’t accurately represent what’s inside. There are so many ways a cover can go wrong, it can be pretty frightening for an author waiting to see what their own cover might look like.
Personally, I try not to let covers sway my judgment on what to read, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. I refused to read Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series for the longest time because I didn’t like the cover art for any of the books. To me, it looked like the characters all had dumpy, short legs and the clothing they wore felt off somehow. When I finally did break down and buy the first book, I was surprised how different the story was to what was represented on the cover. It was far, far better.
But that was only my opinion. There are probably quite a few people who love the covers just the way they are. I just happen not to be one of them.
While I might have avoided The Wheel of Time books for a little while because of their covers, there were other books I did pick up solely based on the cover art.
Wait. Did I say books? I meant book.
I’ve only ever picked up one book because I liked its cover. I might not have ever read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss if I hadn’t seen the cover first. The back copy didn’t really interest me and when I opened the book and glanced at a few pages, I didn’t think it anything special. And even then, I wasn’t sure I was going to buy it because I doubted I’d even like it.
Boy, I’m glad I did.
What does that tell me? To me, a good cover is nice and all, but a bad cover can cause a bigger impact on a book. I’ve passed on more books than I’ve picked up because of personal prejudices against what I think a cover should look like. There are books I actually want to read that I have yet to buy simply because the cover bothers me for one reason or another.
And sometimes, it’s not even a bad cover that can turn a reader away. One example that stands out in my mind is The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines. It’s not a bad cover. In fact, I actually kind of like it. You get a good idea of what you are about to read when you look at it.
Unfortunately, some people will pass on the book simply because the cover is colorful and has a couple of girls on the front, even if they are armed. Some guys, especially at ages in which image seems to count more than anything else, wouldn’t want anyone to see them reading a book that has pink of all colors on it. What would their friends think?!
So even a good cover can hinder a book depending on who is looking at it. Is a cover too scary? Too cheesy? Too pink or girly? Targeted towards men only?
Should it even matter?
When I saw the cover of To Walk the Night, I was thrilled and scared at the same time. Was it too different? Too similar to other books? Would it drive people away? Or would it draw them in?
Personally, I like the cover. It’s different enough that I hope it doesn’t blend in with the other books of the same genre. It still has similarities, of course. It would probably be a bad thing if it didn’t. But overall, I think it is eye-catching. It should draw a potential reader’s eye.
And in the end, isn’t that what matters most?
I’d love to hear what others have to say about their favorite covers or ones that didn’t work for them and why. Feel free to comment here or find me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you think!
And maybe the next time you are about to pass on a book because you don’t like its cover, pick it up instead. Give it a chance. You might find yourself to be pleasantly surprised.
About To Walk The Night
To Walk the NightKensington, January 3, 2012
Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Even a vampire has to face her inner demons…
Kat Redding is the very thing she hunts: a vampire, thirsting for blood, capable of killing any creature unlucky enough to get in her path. The difference is, Kat kills her own kind in order to protect human Purebloods. She’s good at what she does. Good enough to earn the nickname Lady Death—and the enmity of every bloodthirsty being around. But now a vampire Count is intent on merging his House with a werewolf cult to create a force of terrifying power.
Kat can’t allow that to happen. Even if it means taking on a den of weres and a vampire more ruthless than any she’s encountered before. She has the weapons, the skill, and a few allies. But that may not be enough to eliminate the Count before her own dark nature rises to the surface—and costs her whatever is left of her humanity…
About E.S. Moore
E.S. Moore is the author of TO WALK THE NIGHT, the first in an urban fantasy series due out from Kensington Publishing in January 2012. He is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.
E.S. Moore's Links
What: One commenter will win a Lady Caroline necklace from Cemetery Cat Jewelery.
A pewter gloved hand holds a Victorian Lady Skull Cameo.. Perfect for the
right and proper lady..the DEAD lady of course. 17"
How: Leave a comment below answering the following question:
Do you have any favorite covers or ones that didn’t work for you and why?
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