Monday, January 31, 2011

The Importance of the Book Cover

Vicki here and I can say that I’ve seen the work Rick’s done on book covers and can testify that he does a great job.

There have been surveys flying about lately as to why people decide what books to buy. One of the key components, even in the age of e-books, is cover image. I don’t think you can emphasise the importance of the cover too much.
Stand in a bookstore or library even browse the web and hundreds, thousands maybe, of books are trying to attract your attention. You can’t pick every one up and read the blurb and the first few pages to see if it’s something you’d like. (I suppose you could if you had endless amounts of time.) Some indefinable something has to reach out and grab you and draw you in. And other than the title or the author’s name, that something is the cover.

You always judge a book by its cover, and so you should. The cover must deliver on what’s inside. Cats and tea pots – the book’s a cozy. Naked woman lying in a pool of blood – probably not a cozy. Me, I like atmosphere. Winter woods or foggy streets or a calm lake with clouds gathering. Indicates that the book is probably a suspense and chances are I’ll pick it up to learn more.

If the cover says nothing – the vastly overused chalk outline of a body, the equally overused blood spots, garish colours – unlikely I’ll even pick up the book to read the blurb. My eye will pass on.

Not many of us who are writers are also graphic artists (the multi-talented Rick Blechta being an exception) and so we really shouldn’t try to design our own covers. But we need to know what we like and what we’re trying to achieve in this book and should be able to provide some input to our publishers.

All of which is a nice segue into the fact that I now have the cover image for Among the Departed. The fifth in the Constable Molly Smith series from Poisoned Pen, Among the Departed will be released on May 3rd. It’s available now for pre-order at many of your usual sources.

Couple of housekeeping things: If you are a librarian or otherwise connected to libraries and live in Ontario you might be going to the OLA superconference in Toronto. Rick and I will be participating in the Crime Writers of Canada speed-dating event on Thursday. Join us if you can, it’s going to be a lot of fun. Also on Thursday I will be signing books at the Manda Group booth and audio books at the Blackstone Audio booth.

AND if you happen to be in Birmingham, Alabama on the weekend, I’ll be at Murder in the Magic City on Saturday and Murder on the Menu in Wetumpka on Sunday.

1 comment:

Donis Casey said...

Nan, who contracts the cover designers at Poisoned Pen Press, says that a good cover is like a movie poster. It should convey enough of the atmosphere and character of the story to make you want to see what it's about.