Tuesday, 18 October 2011

How Important is Cover Art?

left: Summerset - not popular?

Now, call me conceited, but I consider Summerset, my first
novel, to be my magnum opus. It was the first proper grown up novel I wrote,
and even several novels later, I think the themes covered in it are
interesting. The beautiful heroine who falls in love with the bookish
schoolteacher, even though the handsome local laird is mad for her, plus all
the historical, sectarian stuff etc. I thought when I published Summerset on
Smashwords, it would prove to be a hit and would be downloaded to the extent
that the others have. But I was wrong. The day I put it on, nothing happened,
not one download for 2 days, before someone took the plunge. Compare this to
Only You and Mad About the Boy, which were put on the site and were downloaded
within seconds. I for one, do not know what makes the cover art for these two
more attractive than Summerset, but it would seem there is something about them
that draws the eye. Maybe it's the genre I right in. I write about glamorous
women leading glamourous lives, so to put sexy types in their halter-neck
dresses on the front, it tells the reader what they're getting. To me, so does
the cover of Summerset. The young girl is innocent and dark haired, like Lou, my
heroine. Seeing as half the novel charts her life from the age of 14-16,I was
hardly going to put some foxy middle aged momma on the cover.

Anyway, it's not for me to explain why this is. But it has
made me look at cover art in general, and I have tosay that when browsing
through indie books, I do find it quite off putting when I see someone has used
a stock photograph and done nothing with photoshop to make it even look
remotely different. Or else they use really tacky typeface, or keep the
lulu.com standard of title at the top, name of author in tiny letters at the
bottom right of the page. Rightly or wrongly, this straight away looks amateurish
and says to me the book inside will be the same - which I'm sure it won't be.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not for a moment saying my covers are brilliant,
because they're not and I would love nothing more to have a big budget and pay
someone to make them look like all the other books in bookstores, but I'm not
at that point at the moment, but I suppose, because I did Graphic Design at
college, I do have a little idea of using themes and colours and if you look at
my books you'll see that there is little variation. This gives the books
branding – another thing that seems to appeal to readers; maybe it's the
feeling of familiarity that does it, you know what you're getting.

It would seem that if you're going to pay out for anything,
then an artist to make your book look snazzy seems to be the most important
thing. Editing and proofreading, of course, are mega important, but to an
extent you can train yourself to edit and can always get someone else to
proofread. But where covers are concerned it would seem you need an outside eye
to interpret your book and make it sellable to the public

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