Judge a Book by the Cover?

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A book cover seems like a simple thing, right? Slap an image and some text on there and send it out.

In reality, like anything else that seems easy, it’s a lot more complicated and complex. At least, if you want to do it right. A book cover is more than just the thing holding the pages together; it’s a marketing piece. It’s one of the tools in the toolbox that, combined with other things, sells the author and the author’s brand.

If you’re a reader, the first thing you see, in general, is the cover. It affects you in all kinds of ways and is a huge part of what makes you pick up the book or click that link. It’s entire reason for being is to communicate to you not only what the book is about, but why you want to read it.

A heavy job.

It’s also art. Something that hopefully catches the eye of the target audience and pulls them in. It’s a hook, even more than the first line of the story. People notice images first. Even in the newspaper they’ll look for the photo first, then read the caption, then read the article. Maybe it goes back to the days when all we had was chiseled pictures on walls. Whatever the reason, the image is vitally important.

If you want to sell the book, that is.

When I’m browsing for a new book, the cover tells me a story long before I ever read a word inside. If it’s doing the job right, it tells me what genre the book is, the tone of the story, the overall theme…a hint of the drama inside. All that without a word. The title then kicks it up a notch. From those two things, the artwork and the title, I’ll know if I want to pick that book up off the shelf and give the first sentence a chance.

As the author, finishing a novel is such a huge accomplishment. Don’t sell it, the story, and yourself, short by ignoring the cover.

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