Sunday, 29 July 2012

Judging a book...

I'll be the first person to say the old, 'Don't judge a book by its cover', though I find this generally applies more to people than to books. I'll admit it, I am a sucker for an interesting/beautiful/well-designed cover. At a glance, I want to be drawn in, intrigued, informed. A book cover should tell me something about the genre, the feel, the darkness/lightness of the book, and so on. Which might be why I have more posts about covers than about writing, which is a little worrisome! But let's go with it.

My confession is this: I do judge a book by it's cover. And, I don't believe I am alone in this.

Book covers never used to be a factor I would have to consider when purchasing a book, but with the advent of eBooks on Amazon and Smashwords, I find it affecting my purchasing decisions more and more. You may also have noticed a lot of the self-published titles have...interesting...covers. Bad stock photos at best, flat colour and some ill-advised fonts. Never have scrolly fonts, comic sans and drop-shadows been abused in such a way! Why, I ask, do self-pub titles have to have such terrible covers?! It really is putting me off reading them.

These particular eBooks may be spectacularly written, but I wouldn't know, as I would never be tempted to download them...sorry.

Now, I'm not saying that a beautiful cover immediately promises a well-edited, beautifully written book. Ohhh no. I have tossed out plenty of books with pretty covers which proved to have some challenges in the basic spelling and grammar department in just the first few pages. So even I can be fooled.

Here are a few things as a reader I would most strongly suggest to those looking to self-publish in our brand new world of publishing freedom:

1. Get the cover art right. It must match the feel and tone and genre of your book. MUST. If you didn't make it past 5th grade art class, don't worry, there are eBook cover design services springing up all over the internet. But be careful how much you pay...

2. If you go with a professional cover, make sure the contents match the pretty outside! There's nothing like the let-down of being fooled by the packaging, and you'll likely lose readers forever.

3. Once you have your design and book ready, get feedback. From people you love. From people you hate, or hate you (it will at least be honest, right?)

Your writing is obviously the most important part of a book, but make sure that you are always putting your best foot forward. Don't give readers any reason to not click or pick up your book. Do it as a matter of professionalism. Covers do matter.

Further reading...