Tag: book covers

book covers

Self-Publishing: Five Myths

There’s a lot of interest in self-publishing among authors—even those who have been traditionally published in the past. The problem is that there is so much false, outdated, or just plain wrong info out there that it’s hard to know what to think. I made the leap to self-publishing my mystery novels less than a year ago, but I spent two years researching and learning about how it works and what I could expect—and making some mistakes—that by now, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the truth. I’m coming up on the publication of the third mystery novel in my Fin Fleming thriller series, and I’m very happy with my results. So in hoped that those of you who have been reluctant to test the waters might find this info useful, here goes. 1.    Self-publishing is expensive Self-publishing may require the author to make some investments, but the difference between what a traditionally published author and a self-published author must spend before publication is not that big. For example, many authors hoping to self-publish will hire a developmental editor, a copy editor, and/or a proofreader before they submit their manuscripts to querying. So do most serious […]

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Two Covers

The first of my Maggie Dove mysteries was just re-released in paperback, and also digital form. One of the most exciting/challenging/nerve-wracking parts of the whole thing was figuring out what the new cover should look like. (Many, many thanks to the design artist, Mila, who did the hard work here.) There was so much I loved about the original cover, on the left. The tree, of course. The body under the tree, which signified that it was a mystery, but also that it was a cozy mystery. No blood spatter here. This is a mystery about people and relationships and hurt. I also loved the light coming from the window. So what did we change? The sky is darker in the new version and you can see the stars. I love those stars! Maggie Dove is a person who is always looking up, metaphorically or otherwise, and those stars speak to me. There’s also the silhouette of her in the window. She’s a 62-year-old woman who is trying to become wise, I hope. Then there’s the white font, which looks slightly mysterious. Recently we’ve started work on the cover for Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency, which will be re-released in September, […]

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Do you read a book for its cover?

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across a photo of the cover of Mia Manasala’s new book, Arsenic and Adobo. I was intrigued immediately. The bright colors pulled me in. So did the dog. It just had the vibe of a book I would enjoy reading. I’ve certainly read books with unappealing covers (probably), but I do find that if I like a cover, I’ll often like a book. So I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors how that felt on the subject.

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(Don’t) Judge a book by its cover.

Don’t judge a book by the cover. Wishful thinking, but nearly impossible. Covers are particularly important for new authors, those working their way onto the “Must have” list of readers. What will capture the eye of the beholder? What transmits the story in a snapshot? 

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Can You Judge a Book by Its Cover?

  You can’t judge a book by its cover.  How often did I hear that phrase as a child? According to Ginger Software,  “The origin of the idiom ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ is fairly recent. The phrase is attributed to a 1944 edition of the African journal American Speech: “You can’t judge a book by its binding.” It was popularized even more when it appeared in the 1946 murder mystery Murder in the Glass Room by Lester Fuller and Edwin Rolfe: “You can never tell a book by its cover.”http://www.gingersoftware.com/content/phrases/dont-judge-a-book-by-its-cover/#.WrOogpPwaCQ            I confess to being influenced by the covers of books. If done well, a cover conveys a message about the contents of the book in a single image. The old cliché, “ A picture is worth a thousand words,” may be true. I know I fell for the cover of “Before We Were Yours,” by Lisa Wingate even before I  remembered reading its reviews.            But can you really judge a book by its cover? How much impact does a cover have on the sales of a book? And what about eBooks? I asked the Miss Demeanors to comment and whether they had any say on the covers of their books. Tracee:    I think book covers DO matter. Enormously. Particularly for attracting new readers. While I look for the ‘next one’ from authors I read religiously, I buy plenty of books by people I’ve either never read or never heard of. The cover of a book is often what converts me. Had I heard of Anthony Horowitz? Yes. But something about the cover of Magpie Murders caught my eye. Now I’m a huge fan. (Can I emphasize how huge?) Covers set a tone and that’s what we are looking for when we choose a new book. Place, time, tragedy, thriller, romance. You should get a hint from the cover. On the other hand, designing a cover to suit a trend in the market is annoying if the book doesn’t life up to the promise suggested by the ‘following the trend’ cover. (I won’t name names here.) The great team at St. Martin’s Press designed my book jackets. David Baldeosingh Rotstein specifically. The first in the series arrived as a complete surprise. As a former architect I purposefully didn’t imagine what it would be, since once the image is formed it is hard to erase. When I opened the file containing the cover art I was thrilled, possibly because I have a predisposition to blue covers. If I’d been disappointed I feel like we would have worked through it…. but that’s not been put to the test! I trusted that the publisher knew how they were marketing the books and the design needed to fit that end. I imagine there can be a disconnect between what the book is, and what the author thinks it is (it’s not a thriller, it’s a cozy).   Robin:     I definitely think covers are important. What I’ve noticed is the artwork alone often indicates the genre – thrillers tend to be bold with minimal or subtle imagery. The covers to Cate’s books or Meg Gardiner come immediately to mind. Cozies tend to be less dramatic and more visually descriptive. I know the cover is one of the ways to attract new fans. I can’t tell you the number of people I know who say they buy books from new authors (whether debuts or new to them) based solely on the cover. I’ve also heard a few complaints about ebook titles and authors being harder to remember because the reader doesn’t see the cover very often. As far as input, on the non-fiction books I’ve done, I had input on the second one. Zero say on the other 2.  Susan:     I’ve been very happy with my Maggie Dove covers. In some ways, the cover of an e book is even more important than of a physical book because you only get one chance to attract the reader’s attention. I feel like the Maggie Dove covers have been warm and whimisical and slightly ominous, which fits the books. However, I’m attaching a photo of the three covers for my first book, The Fiction Class. The one on the left was the American version. The one in the middle is the large print version. And the one on the right was the British version. I liked that one best because it was so blue, but the American one probably captured the tone more.  Cate:     I think covers definitely matter. If someone is scanning a book store or a list of noteworthy thrillers inn amazon, the cover can pull you in for long enough to read some of the press coverage and blurbs.  I loved the cover for Lies She Told.  Alison:      This is a very good question, and I don’t know the answer. This is my first cover. I knew I wanted the Wasatch Mountains on it, but beyond that I didn’t have a clear idea. My editor and the publicity department were pretty insistent that Abish Taylor be on the cover. I have the feeling that they were going to “guide” me to the cover that was best (read: I had some input, but know that the title and cover design decision were, ultimately, decisions made above my pay grade).As I look at the cover on the ARCs, I think it gives a flavor of the book inside: a female detective looking out onto beautiful mountains under an ominous sky.      Alexia:      Yes, I judge books by their covers. There are so many books out there, I look to the cover to give me a quick hint about what’s likely to be inside. I know I risk missing out on some great reads this way but I have to narrow the selection somehow.Henery Press has an in-house artist who designs all of the covers. She tailors each cover to the particular series but still gives them all that “Henery Press look”. (In other words, no, I don’t have much input into my covers. My only request was that the Gethsemane Brown covers not be “cute” because I don’t do cute. I get to suggest instruments to include on the cover, but my suggestions aren’t always taken. I actually went back an wrote a trumpet into Killing in C Sharp since there’s a trumpet on the cover.)I don’t think I have a single favorite cover. I like covers with strong graphic elements and a retro flair. For example, The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book and A is for Arsenic, The Disappearing Spoon, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. Michele: I love the cover of No Virgin Island, my first book and felt it conveyed the mystique of St. John and island living. It was pure luck. I had little say in it. When I first saw the cover, it took my breathe away and reminded me of being handed a new baby in the delivery room after I gave birth.   What do you think? Do you purchase books based on their covers? Share in the comments or join the discussion on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/missdemeanorsbooks/

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Which book next?

 I’m fascinated by how people select a new book. I have a few obvious ways myself: books by a favorite author or one written by a friend. Of course, this doesn’t explain why the favorite author was read in the first place. I like in-person recommendations. Particularly from book sellers. They know what I’ve written, therefore the recommendation is about as personalized as you can get. I also fall for book covers. Glancing at my shelves it is possible I am attracted by books with blue covers. This isn’t a scientific assessment, but pretty close. Frightening, really. Is that all it takes to close the deal at the sales counter? Still, I wonder how I found my ‘old favorite’ authors. Elizabeth George and Martha Grimes come to mind. I didn’t start with the first in their respective series; however, at some point I joined the ranks of their followers. What I know for certain is that I didn’t learn about them from reviews (on line or in print) or from a friend or family member. I suspect it was a mixture of luck and the prominence of their books on the store shelf. That is one advantage of a series: a nice long row of titles that draw the eye. Reviews are everywhere today – online newspapers, bloggers, store reviews, reader reviews. I like that there is a discussion about books, but I don’t turn to this for my choices. (How do I know? I never read reviews before purchasing a book. Same with movies but more on that later this week.) I suspect that I am a ‘blink’ buyer. There’s something about the book that appeals to me. Title, cover, or basic premise and I’m in, ready to give it a chance. (A publisher once told me that books with the Eiffel Tower on them sell better. I pretended to be shocked and dismayed, not wanting to admit I fall into that trap EVERY TIME.) I rarely, if ever, read a few pages. I skim the jacket copy. Maybe, after decades of buying many books, my blink reflex knows me better than I do. I purchase the equivalent of a few books every week all year. Do I often make a poor selection? No. I may not read the book right away, but when the time is right, I usually have something on hand that suits my mood and interest. Join the MissDemeanors on Facebook and share how you decide. (And does anyone have a recommendation for me? It doesn’t need to have a blue cover!)

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