Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't judge a book by its cover? Surely you jest???

By Lonnie Cruse

My friend, Suzanne Adair, has a new book coming out this month. She sent me a link to the cover to get my opinion. I think it's great! First I just saw the green. Then I saw the action. Great concept. And I've already read the manuscript, so I know the story is just as great. Her whole series is a terrific read.

I don't know who coined the phrase about not judging a book by its cover (and yes, I know it's meant more for people than for books) but it doesn't work for me with books OR people. Covers draw me to books faster than the author's name (unless I'm mid-series with an author and loving it.) Take Deb Baker's DOLLED UP FOR MURDER. I'd not read her work when I saw her book at a mystery conference, but I simply could not pass up a cover like that. Could you? If you grew up loving dolls, you'll love the book. And the series.

Author Carola Dunn is blessed with some of the best covers I've ever seen. Take a look at this one, it's my personal fave. But ALL of her covers are terrific. So is her writing. This isn't the first in her series, so you probably want to read that first.

I was browsing a book table at the Virginia Festival of Books in 2002 and spotted this interesting cover of Frankie Y. Bailey's book. I dithered back and forth, not having read her work before, but I knew I had to buy a copy . Her covers are all terrific and her stories have me hooked. I've read almost the whole series.

The cover created by an artist for Five Star on the front of my own mystery, FIFTY-SEVEN HEAVEN, was beautifully done and has sold a lot of books for me. The cover is on the left of this blog. A reader recently told me that the cover told it all. I agree. I was lucky. Lots of authors get NO input on covers. I was asked to give a brief description of the book and to give any suggestions I had. The artist outdid herself, and that cover has sold a lot of books for me.

I remember a friend whose books were drop-shipped to her at a huge mystery convention. When she opened the box, she was horrified by the cover. It was bland and nothing like she'd been told (or shown) it would be. Covers not only affect the buyer. They can send the author ducking for cover. (You'll pardon the pun?)

Of course, what is glued between the covers of a book has to be so well written that the reader wants to pass the word (and often the book, if they can turn loose of it long enough) to friends and family. And the author's writing talent makes the difference in whether or not the reader buys the next in the series. I know all authors try to write the very best book they can. But covers are what first catch the attention of the reader in a book store. At least they do me.

Do you have a favorite book cover? A cover so great that you could not leave the store without the book? A cover that introduced you to a new author? Care to share?


caryn said...

Julia Buckley had the most awesome cover for her book The Dark Backward (I think that was the title). I'd never read her, in fact only barely had heard of her but bought the book based on the cover. Lonnie, you're right, you're cover helped sell you book. When is the next one coming out?

Covers don't matter if it's an author I know, but with a new author, the cover can sway me one way or the other. If I'm browsing in a book store or the library, a cover can get me to pick up a book I would walk right by otherwise.

Conversely, some covers really put me off books. If the cover is cartoonish, or if it looks like a slasher type book from the cover, it's often a no go if I don't know anything about the book or author.

Lonnie Cruse said...

I love Julia's cover too. Thanks for stopping by, Caryn. By the way, I was putting pictures in an album last night and ran across a picture of you and me when we met at a conference. Love Is Murder?

Lonnie Cruse said...

Duh, St. Louis, not Chicago, right Caryn?

Suzanne Adair said...

It's difficult for cover designers to capture all the elements that translate into sales for the book's target readers. Equally difficult to find content in a book that delivers on the promise of a tantalizing, fun cover. So congrats, Lonnie, the cover of your first Kitty Bloodworth book does both. And thanks for mentioning my latest release in your post today.
Suzanne Adair

Joyce said...

I saw a book cover not too long ago that was absolutely gorgeous, but do you think I can remember what it was? I think Bouchercon is affecting my brain.

But I do pick up books that have good covers. Berkley has had some wonderful covers lately.