Monday, November 09, 2015

You Can Tell a Book by Its Cover

By Vicki Delany

Or, you should be able to.

A book cover, as well as the title, is a hint at what lies within. The cover should set the mood and the tone, maybe tell you a bit of the setting. If it's a historical novel, it definitely has to say that right up front. In crime writing, it should give you an idea of the subgenre (thriller, cozy, suspense etc.).

A good cover should entice the reader to pick it up, but most importantly it needs to entice the right sort of reader. I, personally, don’t care for men’s-fiction of international intrigue and rogue tough guys. Thus a cover image of the US capital at night, or rain-soaked Kremlin square won’t attract me.

I also don’t read romance, so I don’t want bouquets of roses or overuse of the colour purple.

And that’s okay, because there’s little point in getting me to pick up the book if I’m only going to read the blurb and decide it’s not for me.

Conversely, of course, you don’t want me to pass over a book that would be perfect for me because the cover says it’s something else.

The cozy novels put out by Penguin Obsidian and Berkely Prime Crime are perfect at this. Look at a cozy cover and you know EXACTLY what you’re getting. Your only decision, as a cozy reader, is if you prefer dogs or cats in your books.

This has come to mind because next week I am having a joint launch with my good friend and occasional Type M contributor, R.J. Harlick. (Tuesday Nov. 17th, 7:00 pm. Heart and Crown Pub in the Byward Market in Ottawa) Have a look at the two covers on this page.

I can’t imagine two more opposite images. They are, all on their own, a pretty good illustration of the range of crime fiction these days.

The light and the dark of it as, Barbara Fradkin said.

The colors of my book, the cute little dog staring at you, the Christmas imagery, and the decorations around the series name. On Robin’s book, the tracks in the snow, the use of black and white, the gloom of the forest in the distance. We hope that Robin’s book gives you chills and that mine makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, and maybe nibble on a Christmas cookie.

Not only the covers tell you something about the books, but the titles do also. What would Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen be but a cozy! And Cold White Fear, is going to be pretty chilling!

Two crime novels. Both set at Christmas. But they couldn’t be more different. The title and the cover images tell you exactly what you are going to get.


Victoria Reeve said...

Chomping at the bit, waiting for the 17th!

RJ Harlick said...

A good juxtaposition of the two covers, Vicki. Like you, I am also drawn to those books that have covers suggesting the kind of books I like to read.