Thursday, 27 November 2014

CAN YOU JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER?

Can you judge a book by its cover? I guess the answer is yes if the cover looks like this:
If you're reaching for something with this kind of cover, you're looking for a good bodice-ripping romance with a husky he-man prancing across the hills on a white horse in search of his lusty, red-haired lass whose shirt always slips off her shoulder at the right time.
Or this:
This on the other hand promises plenty of gore and torture at the hands of a panda-faced maniac who's adding something nasty to the pasta sauce.
Enough of the extremes! Covers are extremely important since they contain the all-important title and  image that either draws us to or drives us away from picking up the book. Some covers have such an impact they've become iconic. Here are a few:


Francis Cugat designed the cover of  The Great Gatsby, when F. Scott Fitzgerald was still writing the novel. Fitzgerald like it so much he claimed to have written it into the story. As all students of the book know, the famous "eyes in the sky" could be the godlike eyes of Dr. T J Eckleburg or Daisy's sad, beautiful, disembodied eyes looking down on the gaudy carnival that represents Gatsby's decadent parties and the excesses of the decaying American dream!
S. Neil Fujita designed this iconic cover for Mario Puzo's brilliant novel, The Godfather, which features a marionette theme, suggesting the power of Don Corleone, the great manipulator and the ongoing conflict between the families to become the "puppet master".
The bold cover for Suzanne Collins' blockbuster, The Hunger Games, features the Mockingjay pin, an important symbol of freedom, signifying that Katniss, like the Mockingjay bird, is a creature with a spirit of her own who cannot be controlled by the Capitol. She becomes the figurehead for the eventual revolution against President Snow's brutal regime.
I must admit I'm partial to covers that feature people. Two of my favourite covers this year have covers that reflect the elegant, simple beauty of the story within:
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty features the exquisite Louise Brooks who is actually a character in this story of a quiet housewife who is hired to accompany the wild, eccentric and brilliant young actress to New York.
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent captures the wide-eyed innocence of a young girl, eventually caught up in the corruption, horror and injustice of the Salem Witch Trials.
When it comes to designing a cover, especially if you're self-publishing, it's always best to go with a professional design service. There are plenty of them on the web and they do a terrific job. Those authors who try to go it alone, might find themselves on a site called Lousy Book Covers, a site dedicated to finding the worst covers on the market. Follow the link and you'll see what I mean!
There are two ways to go with covers:
- Find a suitable Pre-made cover and have the designer customize it with your title and details. These can be inexpensive but very attractive. Check out this new cover for my novel, Chasing a Thrill (formerly Busted Out). I wasn't happy with the previous cover and title, so I gave it a new look with a design from Christa at Paper and Sage. Check it out here:
- Hire a cover designer to create your cover from scratch. This is a more expensive option, but can be the best way to go. Especially if you have a series and you want to create a brand. I've used the amazing Jeanine Henning for both books in my sci-fi series - THE FOREVER ONES and THE PARASITES, as well as for the cover of THE PITMAN'S DAUGHTER. It's definitely a thrilling process to see your ideas translated by a talented artist into an eye-catching cover. 
What are your favourite book covers? I'd love to hear from you. Make your nominations in the comments section directly below the blog post. I look forward to hearing from you!