Pub Rants

A Case For A Cover Change

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STATUS: Feeling jubilant. A cover issue crisis has been solved!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ORDINARY WORLD by Duran Duran

I can’t possibly compete with Jeff Kleinman’s superb magnum opus on Bella Stander’s blog about when you hate your cover (which I think should be mandatory reading for all writers) but I do want to add one last thing that you can add to the list.

Most authors focus, with emotion, on the aspect they hate most. Maybe the cover looks cheap, doesn’t accurately reflect the story, or what have you. These arguments don’t really carry much weight because sales/marketing/art department are looking at other aspects such as will the cover pop while on a shelf or riser stand.

The most effective argument for a cover change almost always revolves around whether the cover effectively targets the core audience for the book. If you can make a substantial case that it doesn’t, you have a good chance to win the argument (and if the B&N buyer hates the cover for the same reasons you do and tells the editor so, that helps a lot too.)

I’ve won every cover argument sans one. Thank goodness the author has forgiven me for that. I can’t even tell the publisher “I told you so” because the book did very well—even with that cover. Which is good but I hate when that happens.

14 Responses

  1. Reid said:

    My favorite cover would have to be Van Halen’s rendition of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.”

    As for books, I’m not too visual. You can make the call.

  2. Kimber An said:

    Here’s another thing to consider when it comes to choosing a cover – most of the women who read Romance novels are mothers. Most of the time, they have their children with them in the bookstore. Lately, the covers of many Romance novels have been borderline pornographic. This means these potential readers will not be walking down that aisle. If they don’t walk down that aisle, they don’t buy on impulse.

    Another group of readers is driven to the Internet to find the books they really love. That way, they can rip off the covers when the books come in the mail.

  3. alternatefish said:

    ha, kimber an, that reminds me of the time I covered a book in hockey tape so I wouldn’t have to look at the cover. it was a poetry book for a class, and it was pink and gross and had a pregnant woman silhouette and a hunky man silhouette and white hearts and I was embarrassed to carry it around. I wouldn’t have bought it if it hadn’t been required. so I covered it in hockey tape. much easier on the eyes.

  4. KingM said:

    Not every book can be above average, of course, but still, it seems like it wouldn’t be too hard to eliminate the bad covers. Yet it seems as though every fifth book published has a cover that is so bad it’s got to hurt sales.

  5. Ryan Field said:

    I like book covers to also reflect the design trends (colors are very important) that are happening at the time of publication, which subconsciously attract readers to make the purchase simply based on a cover that looks new and interesting.

  6. bran fan said:

    The only time I concealed a book cover was because the title was stupid. It looked like porn when it was really mainstream SF. As for the picture on the cover, it doesn’t matter to me. I just like the story.

    I hope I will still feel the same when it is my own story…

  7. Karmela said:

    On an unrelated note, it was great to see you again in Dallas and THANK YOU for faciliating my, um, snagging a copy of Sherry’s PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS. I read the book on my flight home and sistah has written a work of art! I *adore* the book and will be pimping it henceforth. Also, despite my obtaining said free copy, I shall be purchasing the book when it comes out March 25. Happy to show my support to my fellow Asian sistah!

    Peace out. **chest thump**

  8. Renegade Writer said:

    Personally, I like stylistic covers or ones with odd photographs.

    I work at B&N and many times, I’ve seen customers walk up to a new release (we’ll have quantity, so it’ll be faced out), reach for it, but stare at the cover art and then turn around.

    They never even got to the hook, so they’ll never know how much they might have liked the book.

  9. Anonymous said:

    I was looking for a book that’s part of a well-known and popular mystery series. The cover had a scary-shadowy-creepy-haunted silhouette (which isn’t at all, IMO, the tone of the books). I walked away from buying *the book I wanted* because I couldn’t deal with having the creepy cover in the house (partly for my sake, and partly for kids’ sake). (FYI it was a reprint in paperback, not the original cover.)

  10. Anonymous said:

    I just got my bookcover and I hate it. They tell me it’s right for the market, but I hate it. It’s a boring scene of Venice in the distance at sunset. I hate it. The only thing intriguing on the cover is the title, Bones of the Dead. I don’t have an agent to fight for me so there’s nothing I can do about it, and I hate it.

  11. Anonymous said:

    Anonymous, if you click the link earlier in Kristin’s post, it will take you to step-by-step instructions on EXACTLY what you can do about it.

    ~elizabeth bunce