Judging a Book by the Cover

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

One of the most exciting parts of getting a book published is seeing the cover that the publisher’s art department creates to represent your story. I really like the cover for my new book releasing in February. The girl looks like Adriane in the book and I love the city backdrop. The story is set in 1855 Louisville and I think the cover shows the historical setting well. What do you think?

Book covers have trends. For several years, the popular chick lit books all had feet or legs of the character model. Many historicals in the inspirational field showed the model in whatever pose but only from the shoulders down. No face. Some readers prefer that. They want to come up with the character’s looks on their own and not be distracted by an actual photograph that might have a model who doesn’t look the way they envision a character in the book. Lately a lot of books have had the head of one of the characters – sometimes both male and female characters – sort of super-imposed on the background. Then along came those books that hardly had pictures on them at all and only the title shown in a dramatic way. So many ways to make a book cover.

How that cover comes about is a question I get at a lot of the talks about writing that I do. People will ask who did I get to do the cover or did I do the cover. They are very curious about the process. Most publishers work hard to present a book with a great cover. That’s because the cover is the first enticement to a reader when a book is there on the store shelf with dozens of other books. A great title helps too, and of course, many readers pick by the writer’s name if they’ve read and liked previous books by her or him. But readers enjoy finding new writers, new books. That’s when that first impression is so important. 

My current publisher, Revell Books, comes up with eye-catching covers that capture the spirit of the book. While I would have never thought of using the cover they did for Angel Sister, it was perfect. Lorena was plucked right out of the pages of my book and she has the perfect look on her face as she’s looking up at her “angel sister.” That cover attracted a lot of readers’ eyes and I think encouraged some of them to give my story a try. By the way, I just got some good news that Angel Sister was picked as one of RT Book Reviews Top Inspirational Novels of 2011.  That has me smiling, but then every time somebody has told me they enjoyed reading my story about the Merritt family, I’ve been smiling. 

Then one last book cover. Everybody knows the Amish fiction is very popular with readers in the inspirational market right now. And those covers usually have a model wearing a bonnet of some sort. My Shaker books aren’t a lot like the Amish fiction because the Shakers were quite a bit different from the Amish, but the Shaker girls on the covers attract the eyes of those who enjoy Amish fiction. I’m grateful that many of them have also enjoyed the Shaker stories. So here’s my new cover for The Gifted that will be out next summer. A few sites have given a peek at the cover and it’s out there on the internet bookselling sites, but this is the first time I’ve put it out for eyes to see. 

What do you think? Do you like the cover? Does a great cover make you pick up a book to read?