Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First Impressions: Do Covers Matter?

I know it’s wrong of me to say this … but when I first got a peep at my book cover for A VICKY HILL EXCLUSIVE! I cried.

It just wasn’t how I had imagined it to be at all. Even worse, I had no clout because it was my first book and as a lowly debut author, my opinion was—well, worthless.  To this day I still have no idea who the woman in the hat is supposed to be. 

At the time I didn’t realize that very few authors who are published by the larger publishing houses (unless they are super-successful of course) have any say in the design. Being published by  a smaller press is definitely a plus in that department.

Since I work for an advertising agency I know just how important first impressions and packaging can be. I have a personal weakness for purchasing soap that comes in a nice box and I’ve been known to shop in a store purely to get the fancy carrier bag.

But when it comes to buying a book … just how important is the book cover?

The Book Smugglers conducted a survey called “Covers Matter.” Of course there are lots of variables e.g. if you already love the author, you’ll still buy the book despite a grim cover—but putting that aside for the moment, this is what they found out.

  • 79% of people reported that covers played a big role in purchasing a book.
  • 40% of people reported that it was their sole driving factor in a decision to buy a book.
  • 62% felt covers should be an artistic representation of the book. 

Good news is that despite bad/disappointing covers, most readers will still buy the book.

Happily, my UK publisher’s version of my first book is one I love. I’m posting both here as an example of how the tone of the cover alters the perception of what’s inside.

Comments anyone?


RCR said...

Admittedly, I have a weakness for good design. I've held off buying certain books until I find an edition I like. Likewise I've bought books I wasn't sure about because the cover design was so good, worst case scenario it looks nice on my shelf.

Most dreaded of all? Movie tie-in covers!

F.T. Bradley said...

I like that second cover better, too :-)

Covers make a big difference to me. I love the one the publisher came up with for my upcoming debut, but man, was I worried about how it would look...

Interesting stats.

Rick Blechta said...

The UK cover is far more interesting and has some personality to it. If it's accurate to the tone of the novel, I can get a clear idea of what the read will be like. That's the real difference.

The top cover version is something far too generic. My understanding based on the image is that the book will be very much like something by Agatha Christie as opposed to Sparkle Hayter.

The reason you have a woman in black on the top cover is simply because it was an idea by the illustrator or the person who gave the illustrator his/her marching orders and not based on anything in the book. In other words it was a (dreaded) “marketing decision”.

Hannah Dennison said...

Thanks so much for your comments -- yes, the tone of the second really captures the quirkiness of my stories - note the "hedge jumper" in the background. I heard once that a cat was put on the cover of someone's book because cats-sell-cozies ... but no cat appeared in the book!
And F.T. Bradley - congratulations on your upcoming debut!

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