Teagan Kearney/G.N. Kearney: Writer: CAN YOU JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER?


Whether we’re talking people or books, the exterior doesn’t reflect the truth of what is inside. Choices like shopping for a pair of shoes, or your opinion of the film you saw last week, have a large element of subjectivity. So when I look at book covers my own preferences naturally come into play. Choosing a cover for my book, The Unforgiveness of Blood, is the next step in my writing journey - and one that makes me excited and nervous as we’ve all been in situations where we have to make a choice, and a lot rides on that decision.

Graphic artists and those who design book covers for a living do a brilliant job of bringing to life an image which captures something of the essence of the story, and matching a writer’s vision can’t be easy – we writers are a fussy lot when it comes to book covers. And there is a great deal more involved than using Photoshop and finding a jazzy font.


However, when I’m choosing a novel, I’ll be honest – and I’m a visual person – the cover has no influence at all. Sure, I’d notice if it was amateurish, but I search first for genre, and if I’m into a particular author and notice one of their books on the shelf, I’ll pick up that one. Next I check out the blurb, but I always read the first page before deciding. 

Yes, I do glance at the cover but that is the packaging not the product, and it’s only since I decided to go the indie publishing route that I’ve given more attention to what is current in terms of design and layout. What I’ve found after several months of cruising the tables and shelves of my local bookshops, is endless variety (and genius) and no one common feature that says this will make your book sell.  
In any case, I’d like to share some of the points I’ve picked up in my research. To start with, fonts should be legible - which translates as not too fancy, or squiggly, and not too squished together as you have to factor in the thumbnail appearance. A log line isn't obligatory but can tempt readers. You can are even find fonts which are genre specific!

The cover artwork shouldn’t try to convey every nuance of your protagonist’s journey by cluttering up the space with a dozen images as this takes an artist longer to create – another aspect to consider when deciding your publishing date.  

One piece of advice I read was, when in doubt, go for a more simple cover. Being something of a minimalist, as you’ve probably guessed by the covers I chose for this post, I love clean clear-cut designs. I’m a fan of Ansel Adams’ photography, and although I’ve not done much black and white photography for a while, I’m still drawn to the simplicity of such stark contrast. As far as book covers go, contrast is good and images with light and darker areas are effective.

There are millions of brilliant cover designs, but most people I know don’t buy a book because they love the cover. Yes, first impressions do count up to a point, and you want your cover to be professional because everything contributes towards attracting  readers, but ultimately it’s the story – what’s inside that cover – that will make people enjoy your book.

Writing Update                          

After a few days of winding down and dawdling through the pre-beta reader tweaks, I sent The Unforgiveness of Blood off to my beta readers. By the end of the week, feeling lost without the routine of working on my WIP, (the spare room still holding no attraction - occasionally I think I’ll hire a skip and just throw everything in) I've picked up and am  continuing with my nano 2012 edit. Now I have something to focus on while I wait for feedback - as well as mulling over my choices of cover design!

Today’s Haiku
how many veils of
deceit linger in mists of
hazy mental dust

Useful Links:
Derek Murphy’s blog is a master class for anyone thinking of going the indie route when it comes to designing covers:
This blog has a variety of designs and will open your eyes to the elements of cover design composition.

I’d love it if you popped over to Wattpad and read any of my posted stories...just click on the links to the right.

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku  

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

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