9 September 2014

Judging a Book by its Cover

Don’t even lie. We all do this.

Recently I have been a little bit obsessed with book covers; specifically, imagining what covers for my books might look like. I’ve been mooching around the internets for ebook cover designers and trying to tell myself it’s too soon to be thinking about hiring any. I need to finish, edit and perfect a book before I slap a cover on it after all. 

They’re just all so pretty

There are of course so many more important things to be thinking of when writing a book. Creating interesting, enjoyable content for one. But whilst people won’t care if you have a lousy cover if your novel is pure brilliance, they’re less likely to discover that brilliance if the cover is a big ole’ mess. I can’t count the times I’ve been wandering through Waterstones and snatched a book off the shelf purely because the cover was too gorgeous to resist. Sometimes I put those books right back down after reading the blurb. Sometimes I buy the entire trilogy and it becomes one of my favourite book series. There are many books on my (overcrowded) bookshelf that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for their cover.

A great book cover is also something that will be invaluable when it comes to marketing your book; this I say as a consumer, and not a writer. In the same way I will swipe a good looking book from a shelf in a bookshop, I will quickly click through to your website/amazon page if your cover jumps out of my Twitter feed screaming look how beautiful I am wouldn't I look sexy on your bedside table.

All in all, it’s not such an insignificant thing for me to be thinking about. So here’s a few of my favourite book covers for future inspiration…

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Vintage Classics edition)

You’ll probably notice a theme throughout this list, and that theme is simplicity. A crowded cover is (most of the time) a big turn off for me when searching for books. I want something that hints at the story or character without it looking like the plot threw up all over the front. This is a great example because you’d struggle to find someone in the western world who hasn’t heard of Alice in Wonderland. It’s an iconic story, and the pale blue background combined with the stripy socks and dainty shoes quickly represents that story. No frills, no fuss. 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 

 Simple. Eye-catching. And as we’ve learned since the release of the film, extremely transferable over different pieces of advertising/media. For some reason I really love covers that give NOTHING away about the actual story, but because it’s so memorable you still instantly associate it with the story anyway. This is one of those.

The Humans by Matt Haig

This cover is so gosh darn beautiful it makes me spout cutesy phrases of delight such as ‘gosh darn’. I love the colours, the illustration and the positioning of everything on this cover. And again, it gives nothing away about the plot besides the fact that **SPOILER ALERT** there’s a dog in it. This was one of the main books I was referring to when I said it would not be on my shelf had it not caught my eye in the bookshop. Gorgeous. I want my book covers to make people feel the way I do when I look at this one.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor 

A beautiful story deserves a beautiful cover. This one hints at fantasy (a doorway into another world) whilst also staying fairly modern in its design. When I first picked this up I wasn’t big into ‘heavy’ fantasy and can be put off by particularly medieval book covers. This one didn’t scare me off at all, and actually is a perfect representation of how the story begins in our world before slipping through the doorway into another.

Elephants on Acid by Alex Bosse 

Look how fun this book looks. Even if the title wasn’t as beautifully bizzare as it is I would have picked this book up. Sometimes there’s no iconography or symbolism needed; just a fun cover that will hold the reader’s attention long enough to make them open the book.

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (Penguin Classics edition)

Normally I tend to shy away from covers with actual photographs of people on them, especially photos of the actual characters. For some reason I really love this cover of Gatsby even though it’s clearly depicting Daisy Buchannan on the cover. Maybe it’s because Daisy is such a cut-out figure of beauty and wealth that it could have been any number of attractive 20s blondes, or the bird’s eye angle of the photo. Maybe I just fancy Daisy. Who knows.

I Left My Tent in San Francisco by Emma Kennedy

Another exception to the ‘no real photos’ rule, although this one I like because it’s made using mixed media. The use of a genuine photograph from the past is instantly nostalgic, and really connects the real life story to… well, real life. These things really happened, to this poor unfortunate woman. 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Cards on the table, I haven’t read this book. I haven’t even bought it. Yet. But the point is, I want to. This cover is smart, simple, and I held it in my hands for a good few minutes admiring it this weekend before deciding I’d already spent too much money that day. Soon, my pretty. Soon…

Let’s be superficial together! What are your favourite book covers? Are there any you haven’t read but want to because of the way they look? 

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