If the saying, you can’t judge a book by its cover, rings so true, then why as an author, do we stress so much about them?
Simply put, a cover is something that protects the pages of the book. It is a shelter for a story that has taken anywhere from hours to decades to write. If its function then is to keep the contents within safe, why do we stress so much on what it looks like without.
I find it odd how we talk so much about looking upon the inside of someone, including finding out about them, before passing our judgments on them. Do we do it? If someone with a different cover than yourself approaches you smiling, do you flinch? Walk away? Or smile back?
How do you react?
I find it very interesting how often we see a person and pass judgment on them instantaneously.
Is this same response why book covers are so effective? Would a person buy an incredible book, if the cover didn’t at least cause a snap judgment of interest in a prospective reader?
I am guilty. I love books, but often the right cover makes me pick it up and try to discover more, even reading the summary on the back, giving the story a chance because the cover visually appealed to me. Is this how we are as humans? I am unsure.
Sadly, not all covers appeal to everyone. I find it fascinating how varied and exciting covers truly are. I may not agree with the style, but the variety is fun to behold. Being a fantasy reader and a bit old school, I tend to gravitate towards covers with epic scenes blazing across them including armies, or castles, or dragons, or all three.
It is fascinating how quickly we react or overreact based on our first visual impression of what we see. I know many people teach about the techniques of creating covers, and that we should follow the trends of what is popular right now. Wow, how lifelike is that? Are we always following or can we gravitate to what we like? Do we dare design something that counters the current trends?
As I approach publishing my first book, I have thought long and hard about what my cover should be like. A friend and fellow podcaster, Atelo, has been drawing some incredible ideas for my cover, but I am still not ready to pass a judgment on the cover to best represent a book that has been many years plus in the writing-editing-more editing-more writing and whatnot cycle. It’s kind of sad to think that all that effort, might just be glossed over by prospective readers if my cover isn’t pretty enough.
I know my book will not appeal to everyone and that is okay. The cover, I hope, should not mislead anyone into thinking this book is different than what it is-an epic fantasy about a girl discovered by an amulet. But how can I make it appeal to those who I think will enjoy it?
I reflect again upon humanity. How many people look one way and act another? Sadly, that is often the case, for good or ill. It’s why we must look past the cover before judging. It’s why we need to “open the book” and actually interact with those we meet. Find out about them. Then decide whether or not you want to allow the story into your life, or put it back on the shelf.