Cover it Up

Once upon a time I entertained the idea of becoming a book cover artist.  I’m a pretty fair artist (and I don’t just say so myself) but for one reason or another that career never transpired.  That background, however, might explain why I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to book cover art.  I love it.  When it’s good.  When it’s bad I can’t even see the title or the author or the blurb because I’m stuck on that really poor artwork.  And I pass it by, shaking my head.  Covers do sell books, whether authors want to believe it or not.

With the current trends of self-publishing and e-publishing it seems many authors have forgotten how important a good cover is.  It has become almost an afterthought.  As I scroll through blogs and websites and Amazon Kindle offerings I’m almost overwhelmed by the less than stellar attempts.  I do believe some authors, with little to no design sense, are throwing covers together themselves in a haphazard display of really poor, computer aided . . . crap.

There.  I said it.  It’s just plain, ol’ crap.  Sorry if I offend.

They’re stilted, bare, gaudy, remedial . . . have I mentioned the word crap?  Worse, some even look like poorly done computer animation stills from the very early days or a conglomeration of randomly grabbed clip art.

It’s sad.  Really.  Because outside of the fact that a good cover can sell a book, good cover art is something to be admired.  It should hint at the story inside.  Should give a deeper meaning, a little clarity perhaps.  It should ignite the reader’s imagination so they want to pick up that book, whether physically or virtually, and dive in.  A really good cover stays in the back of your mind while you’re reading, giving you a sense of place and mood.  Don’t believe me?  Look at romance books (without turning your nose up).  Don’t think those hot, steamy covers with barely clad, hard bodies suggestively entangled help sell those books?  They stir the imagination, ignite the passion and the sale is made.

Believe me, I understand tight budgets.  Folks who are self-publishing probably feel they can’t afford to splurge on the design and art services of a professional to create a cover that does more than take up pixels.  But there are options.  I’m willing to bet if those of you with bad covers (you know who you are) approached the local college, you’d get students with uber talent aching to build their portfolios who would help you with a cover for bragging rights alone.  Heck, with the far reaching tendrils of the internet it doesn’t even have to be the local college.

And think how your sales will increase when, instead of that little thumbnail of a cover, instead of blending into the background, jumps off the screen and screams, “Hey, look!  Buy me!”

Sure, if you write well and your blurb is enough to pull a reader in you’ll have sales.  I can hear you growling at me already.  Making claims covers don’t sell books, solid writing and good story-telling do.  You’re right.  And wrong.  I’m not alone when I say I’ve bought books because of the cover.  In some cases, the cover was way better than the book and I’ve been sorely disappointed.  But what really matters is I.  Bought.  The.  Book.  And though we all want readers to love us for our writing, bottom line is they can’t read it if they aren’t drawn to it.  No pun intended.

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