As a reader, I see the cover and the title of a book first. Those key features must provide me with critical information about the book. I want to know immediately if I absolutely have to read this book or if I should look at the next book over. I look for familiar authors, clues about the plot, and fundamental category indicators. Of course, if I still have questions, I can read the blurbs on the back or the first few pages, (even internet sellers will usually preview the first chapter.) However, the cover must reach out and grab me first. However, can you really tell a book by its cover?
Book lovers can tell that these covers are from “cozy” mysteries even without the titles or authors. Just one look at the basic colors, the pets, the food, or the detailed and alluring landscape and readers are pulled into the world of amateur sleuths.
Of course, for a well known author, the name is the most prominent feature on the cover. I can pick put my favorite author’s new book without blinking an eye.
Sometimes covers invite questions beyond the content of the books. Lately I have suspected that my wardrobe is missing an important item – that red coat.
Of course, sometimes covers are sneaky, even devious. When I picked up “The Innocents” by David Putnam, a baby carriage with a police silhouette shadow suggested that it might be about black market baby selling or perhaps about children whose parents either were victims of crime or were somehow involved in criminal activities, leaving the innocent children as the ultimate victims. Well, the book was not about any of those conflicts. It was great, and the cover fooled me on all counts — good for Oceanview Publishing!
The cover for “The Deep Dark Descending” by Allen Eskins reflects the book exactly. The cover evokes the cold, foreboding, desolation of winter, shows the lonely path through the dead, frozen weeds, and there, in the center, is the ominous hole in the ice. Even the back cover has reflective snow if you hold in the light just right. This cover from Seventh Street Books is stark, mysterious, and compelling, and the book is as well. It is one of my favorites.
Now authors, what do you hope the covers of your own books tell readers? How much input do you have in the selection of the cover and the title? What are your favorite book covers, either from your own books of from the books of others?