Yes, books *are* judged by their covers

23 Sep

The other day, a friend showed me a new book by a new author she knows. It was a proud moment for her, so I didn’t want to spoil it — but the cover was awful. I’m not sure whether it amazes me more that these publishing services (in this case, Author House) have the lack of shame to publish these covers or that the authors honestly can’t tell a bad cover from a good one.

Now, I’m not talking about stylistic, design subjectivity; this cover has a visibly blurry image of a handgun on the cover that was probably pulled from the Internet. Even if someone lacks the design savvy to see why the cover is bad overall, it escapes me that the average person wouldn’t see a badly blurry design element like this gun.

In addition, the back cover is nothing more than black text on a white background. BORING!! And on top of that, there were numerous typos just in the back description. Wow.

So, authors, pleeeeeease be ruthless critics of your book covers, especially when using a publishing service. The poor author above probably spent several hundred dollars, possibly a thousand, on his book. (Author House’s set-up fee starts at $598, according to 2009 Writer’s Digest directory of “self-publishing companies.”) If anything seems obviously wrong or questionable, don’t accept it as is. You have the right to a competent (if not great) book cover. If you don’t feel you have the knowledge to discern problems on your cover (before you approve it), then hire a book-cover designer for a consultation. This can be done for around $35-50, but it can save you hundreds of dollars you’d waste on a blatantly poor cover.

Your book’s cover is paramount to your book’s success. I won’t go so far as to say it’ll make or break your book, but it sets the tone for the reader and, more important, is the first impression a potentialreader has when considering buying your book. A cheap cover will convey (at least subconsciously) cheap content.

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