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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Do you judge an Author by their book cover?



I have to say, I ALWAYS judge a book by its cover. It's the first thing you see. In most cases with a new book, it's the first thing that attracts me, that gets me to pick it up and read the blurb, unless I've already decided on the title because of reviews or recommendation. The cover has to at least grab your attention for those few seconds your eyes skim over the thumbnail on Amazon or the shelf of your local bookshop.

But something occurred to me this weekend after several differing reactions to my cover. Not only might my book be judged by my cover, but would I be as well? The thought came as a bit of a shock.
Now, I love my cover. I think it perfectly captures the mood of my male MC and the story itself. Some people have found it a little...well...racy perhaps? More naked than they were expecting? Generally that's been well-received (predominantly by my female friends, which comes as no surprise!). It is not, I will admit, probably a cover to attract male fans.

Now that's a bit of a conflict for me. I have never written with a target audience in mind - I follow that adage of writing the book I wanted to read - so I guess that would make my main audience, intended or not, scifi lovin' women like me. At the moment I have a straight scifi story out on sub, whereas Keir is a scifi rom, so the cover's going to reflect that. But does it mean people will view ME in a certain way? Will they take one look at my cover, and decide the kind of person I am?

Does it matter? And should it? I'm a pretty modest kind of person, but I think Keir is a damn good story and I'm proud of it. I know there are going to be people who won't like it. I get that. Honestly I do. I know I can't please everyone, and I'm not going to twist myself in knots trying doing so. For those who don't like romance, I'll have straight scifi coming out - I already have a free scifi short out that isn't the least romantic, and another I hope to release next year.

But the thing is, I don't get to chose the cover. A lot of people, especially the non-writing ones, probably don't realize that's how it works with a publishing contract. I had a form to fill out of the kind of thing I had in mind, but I get no say. I can ask for changes to be made, but in essence the cover is decided by the publisher.

So do you find that people judge you by your covers? Has it ever come up? Perhaps I'm just being too paranoid about the whole thing!

1 comment:

  1. "But does it mean people will view ME in a certain way? Will they take one look at my cover, and decide the kind of person I am?"

    - I can tell you I wouldn't. I know little about most authors whose material I've read. Those who I tend to read more of, or who have created something that I really enjoyed or was inspired by, will attract me to their Web-sites. But, I don't judge, based on the content of the story or art, what kind of person an author is.

    "Does it matter? And should it? I'm a pretty modest kind of person, but I think Keir is a damn good story and I'm proud of it. I know there are going to be people who won't like it. I get that. Honestly I do. I know I can't please everyone, and I'm not going to twist myself in knots trying doing so."

    - This ultimately comes down to whether or not it matters to you. Does it matter? Sure, on some level, everything matters. Should it matter? That's your choice.

    That you're conscientious of it says it must, to some degree. And, that's fine. Good even. That your work and your image is important to you is a great thing. As long as you don't let those concerns overwhelm what you're trying to accomplish.

    But, when the "chips are down" as some people say - I think it's a Poker-thing, be ready to fight for what you think is right. Just be sure you know what you're fighting for and what the best solution is. Be able to back up your argument with data, or establish enough trust with your publisher that they're willing to give something different a try.

    "But the thing is, I don't get to choose the cover. A lot of people, especially the non-writing ones, probably don't realize that's how it works with a publishing contract. I had a form to fill out of the kind of thing I had in mind, but I get no say. I can ask for changes to be made, but in essence the cover is decided by the publisher."

    - Which may not be a bad thing? Writers are often not sales people or graphic artists. Depending on the publisher, you may, eventually, have more sway in this area. But, you may need to prove yourself first.

    "So do you find that people judge you by your covers? Has it ever come up? Perhaps I'm just being too paranoid about the whole thing!"

    - Maybe a little paranoid ... but use that ... let it drive you to become more informed on how this process works. See if you can find out what data they use to determine what sells. See if it's something you can subtly add to the mix of your story.

    There are ideas I never would have known to include in what I've tried to write if I had not taken that steps to discover what friends and strangers thought was good, bad or just 'meh.' Knowing how your publisher 'thinks' would be a good first step. If those changes don't violate your artistic integrity, it might be worth a try.

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