Wednesday, January 26, 2011

There is NO cat in my book!

... Such was the anguished cry from a cozy mystery author (who must remain nameless) upon seeing his new book cover. Apparently, the publisher believes that featuring cats on covers sell cozies. No other animal commands such a draw. Just cats. Another selling point in the cozy world is absolutely anything related to libraries and bookstores. And it’s true. They really do sell well—take it from someone who had snail racing on her 3rd book cover.

Rick’s post yesterday really got me thinking. I am in awe of his talent. What a huge responsibility to capture the essence of a story, create a tantalizing visual teaser of what lies inside and keep everyone happy.

Fortunately I’ve loved book covers 2, 3 and 4 in the Vicky Hill Mysteries. They are vibrant and fun, (please note I have not mentioned book 1). It’s obvious that the artist did her homework and I felt that she’d understood me.

As a mid-list author with a big publishing house and no sales clout, I was pleasantly surprised when I asked for a tiny change in Scoop! and got it. Although my heroine Vicky Hill is only seen from behind on this book cover, her hair is long and blond. I had never envisioned her as having either. I asked the artist to chop off six inches because Vicky is definitely not glamorous. She’s still blond but hey, you can’t win them all.

Good cover art definitely entices me to pick up a book. If it sizzles, I’ll certainly read the blurbs. I was talking about the very same thing with a reader recently and asked her what would stop her from buying a book. She said if there wasn't a photograph of the author, she wouldn't touch it—nor if the author’s bio mentions a love of dogs.

I rest my case.


6 comments:

Rick Blechta said...

One of the big reasons why book cover design is an arcane art is that the publishing and bookselling industry doesn't generally do all that much market research, unlike the magazine industry which is constantly testing, tinkering and talking with their clients.

What talent I have is nothing compared to knowing what will sell. I can only create something that I believe will work. Even if all my clients went along with whatever I did, how would we know whether the design worked well to attract buyers if no testing has been done?

I'll bet some market research and testing would lead to real results in the knowledge of what kind of cover designs actually help sell a book. What we do now is guess.

And as for the person who won't buy a book that doesn't have an author photo, all I can say is "Poor thing." What a stupid, short-sighted thing to do. Ditto for cats on the cover. Just lame...

Hannah Dennison said...

I know!! I was incredulous! She was absolutely adamant. I had been hoping that one day I might find somewhere to tell that story!

Vicki Delany said...

See the forthcoming cover of Among the Departed. Dog. But it is a police dog.

Rick Blechta said...

Based on what I'm hearing, you should change it to a police cat.

Hannah Dennison said...

I think police dogs are fine ... because they are smart (like cats) ...

Donis Casey said...

I love my new cover because it's uncluttered - that's what attracts me. My earlier covers were too busy, I thought. No animals at all, but lots of little girls, though.