|Image from amazon.co.uk|
Self-published books often get negative press for having awful covers. Sadly, this appears to be true in many (I'd say most) cases. Even when an image looks decent, the covers are often let down by the font being inappropriate. However, authors who spend some time on their covers - getting feedback and asking for advice - can come up with something respectable, and those who spend money getting a cover designed professionally can end up with a book every bit as good (or better) than books in the shops. There's also, of course, cases of books being professionally published where the publishers have done little more than pay someone to stick a stock photo on a white cover, successfully making a book of recognised merit look as if it was self-published by somebody in a hurry.
If you'd like some examples of the very worst of the very worst of book covers, look no further than this Buzzfeed article [contains erotica titles]. Most books don't stoop this low!
There is a debate at the moment over whether book covers matter any more. With the rise of e-books, does anybody judge a book by its cover these days? I think they do. In a shop with hundreds of books, I'll pick up the one with the beautiful or striking cover. The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas is a example that springs to mind of a cover that certainly catches the eye (and I love that the edges of the paper in her books are coloured too). Perhaps in a world with more choice, covers are more important, not less. What do you think are the essential elements of a good cover? Do you have a favourite book cover?
A while ago I blogged about Coverflip - a project where people re-desigend covers as if the book had been written by somebody of the opposite sex to the real author. I won't go into that again, but it does make me wonder: how do you design a cover that not only looks good, but attracts your target reader? As the author, you should be able to pick out the essential themes of your books and describe your audience, but how do you translate the former into something that appeals to the latter? If you've ever designed your own book cover, I'd be grateful to hear how you went about the process and how happy you are with the outcome.
All you readers out there - do you judge a book by its cover? What should I consider when thinking about my own novel cover?