Thursday, January 12, 2006

Judging a Book By Its Cover

I am book cover obsessed.

I can't pass by a book in a store without admiring its cover but what regular people see isn't quite what I see. I analyze. For instance, in the grocery store tonight, I only had to get some cat food, a 2-liter of Pepsi, and of course a couple things I hadn't planned on buying like chocolate-coated vanilla ice-cream bars, some of that delicious Cracker Barrel sharp cheddar and some white cheddar Cheez-Its. Ymmm.

But, anyway, I had to stop off at the magazine aisle and gaze at the books that were there. My main purpose is not to buy (I already have stacks of those) but to see how their covers are put together. Is the author's name larger than the name of the book and why is that? What colors blended well and what graphics did they use to match the title? Could I do better?

I don't know, but I bet I could give some of them a run for their money.

In between a couple of covers I've promised to friends, I redesigned my website. If you'd like to see what I've done, click here. I'm having so much fun designing things, I can't stop.

Anyway, back to covers, I feel this way...I think it would be so hard having someone else do my future covers. I know that's silly but as I've gotten my feet wet with the process, there's no reason for a shitty cover, if you know what I mean, and if I get a shitty cover, I'll go beserk. I will become the author from hell on them.

I have seen some shitty covers, too, and there's no reason for it. Of these shitty covers, I wonder what in the hell was in the cover designer's mind at the time? They slap a poorly designed graphic on the front, throw on a few letters for the title and the author's name and bingo bango there's your cover. Ack. And it's not just the e-publishers or the small press, but I've seen shitty covers from traditional houses as well.

But as the author, we can't say a thing because at that point it's out of our hands. We're just so happy we are published, we go blind to that fact that some day down the road, we're going to say, "Man, that's a real shitty cover."

God, let's hope that never happens because I know I'm going to go postal on whoever was responsible, publishing contract or not.

But, you know, I think it's all in the eye of the beholder. What is Salisbury Steak to one person is meat loaf to another, you know? What might be shitty to me might be the most beautiful thing to someone else. Isn't that the way art is anyway? It's highly individualized.

Anyway, speaking of books, Dream Agent still hasn't responded. Exactly two months. Still too early.

So, I make covers...redesign my website...paint my toenails...twiddle my thumbs...pray...


  1. I think the only time an author's name is bigger than the title is when they are sure to sell a lot of books based on said name value, such as Stephen King. And maybe some celebrities.

  2. I used to think so, too, but take a look at book covers in the grocery store, for example. There's a lot of them that aren't that famous and yet their name is larger than the title. There's a girl in one of my groups whose books was sitting right there on the shelf and her name was bigger than the title. Not sure whether I'd want that or not...of course a lot of times it's not our decision but the publisher's.

  3. Covers can make or break a book, unfortunately. I'm reminded of a recent book I read by an author I know. The cover had NOTHING whatsoever to do with the story inside. IOW, it was a very misleading cover and it did the author a grave disservice.


  4. I wonder how much input the author had on the design, too. It's a shame.

  5. Hi Dorothy!
    You're so right; I just read an article that said most people give 2 seconds consideration to a book they might buy, mostly focused on the cover--so of course I'm already freaking out about this!

    I'll keep my fingers crossed for you with the agent search--I definitely recall the agonies and ecstasies of that part! Have a fabulatastic weekend. :)

  6. How long does it usually take an agent to respond?

    Best to you, Dorothy!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.