“There is much to discover that’s not on the back cover!” ~ E.A. Bucchianeri
We’ve all heard the well-worn idiom, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. After all, the phrase goes back to at least the mid-19th century, first printed in the newspaper Piqua Democrat, in June 1867:
“Don’t judge a book by its cover, see a man by his cloth, as there is often a good deal of solid worth and superior skill underneath a jacket and yaller pants.”
Yet it’s something we all do, whether we’re aware of it or not. It’s even harder to be objective when that cover belongs to your own book!
An author’s emotional connection to their work is usually strong, and sometimes personal preferences can unconsciously override what might be more popular with readers. The challenge is to strike a balance or fusion between the author’s ideas and appealing to the marketplace.
When it comes to covers, whatever will accurately represent the story and arouse a potential reader’s curiosity is the priority.
Some eye-opening stats about the Amazon literary marketplace
Here is a comparison of titles held by the Library of Congress (the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States, thought to be the largest library in the world), versus Amazon, the world’s largest online book retailer.
Library of Congress (LOC):
- Total Books & Printed Material – 14, 602, 487
- English Titles – 6, 804, 199
- Titles available online – 199, 160
- All Books (in stock) – 40 million (2.7 x LOC)
- English Titles – 10 million (1.5 x LOC)
- English Kindle Titles – 4, 794, 589 (24 x LOC)
With around 4.8 million English books available on Amazon Kindle, it is by far the largest single platform for ebook sales in the world. A staggering 70,000 new titles are added to Amazon every month, with a 17% growth in book supply every year. Over 2,000 books are launching every day onto this publishing behemoth…
It’s a tough job to create a compelling book cover that’s both eye-catching and unique, in order to stand out in a crowded market and entice readers. It has to embody the story with flair on the outside, and then fulfill the promise of that visual hook on the inside.
The bottom line is, does the book cover create the desire to read it?
A cover plays a major part in helping to differentiate your book from the plethora of titles available online and in book stores.
“In the old days, books had awful covers and marvellous content; nowadays, the opposite happens.” ~ Giacomo Leopardi, Thoughts
Is it greedy to want both a stunning cover and great content? No, I don’t think so. These are the standards professional authors aim to achieve and that readers expect.
There are some amazing and iconic covers out there. Here is a list of the 50 coolest book covers chosen by shortlist.com.
I am hugely excited and a teeny bit trepidatious about changing my literary ‘brand’. The new cover is very different from the first, but that’s a good thing in my opinion. Otherwise, what’s the point in a fresh look?
I asked Oliver Bennett at More Visual Ltd. to redesign the cover of The Virtuoso to include my Publishers Weekly review, and of course, the beautiful contemporary classical soundtrack (embedded on the sidebar), performed by violinist Adelia Myslov.
I think he has done me proud, and I love it. But what I think doesn’t really matter. It takes creative courage to judge your own book by its cover, and you can only go on your own impressions as well as feedback from others. I’m grateful to those I’ve asked for giving me their honest opinions and suggestions.
Ultimately, artistic design is highly subjective, just like the act of reading itself.
I hope the new design will garner positive comments, and perhaps, (in conjunction with favourable book reviews), help generate more book sales…
I’d be delighted for any feedback from readers: either past, present or possibly future! I am currently offering free digital copies to book reviewers and book lovers who are willing to leave an honest review.
Just drop me a line via my contact page and I’ll email the link. If you prefer to hold a paperback I’d be happy to send you one in the post.
For U.S. based readers I’m running a Goodreads Giveaway of 100 Kindle copies of The Virtuoso between 16th and 24th June. You will be able to enter this giveaway from the link I will post on my sidebar.