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The Choir Press Blog


28

Why Judge a Book by Its Cover

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Only a handful of inventions can be said to have shaken the world.  One of them is the Gutenberg Press.   Invented to produce cheap bibles in large quantities for distribution to the poor, Gutenberg inadvertently enabled the modern publishing industry.  Thanks to him, school children have textbooks, commuters have novels to read on the train and authors can publish their own work in quantities to suit their needs.

More Books, More Choices

In the approximately 560 years since the Gutenberg Press was invented, literally countless authors around the world have had works published.  Additionally some older works have been rediscovered by an international audience.  This means that the choice available to readers has never been wider.  There are also a number of more modern technologies competing for the attention of potential readers.  All this means, in brief, that modern authors have a very short time to convince book-browsers to make the purchase.  This is why the choice of cover is crucial.  It’s the key tool for enticing the viewer to look further into the book.

What Makes A Good Cover?

A good cover conveys a clear message about the book and by extension why it should interest a reader.  The three key parts of any cover are: title, author’s name and cover image.  While capable writers should be able to create a compelling title themselves, particularly if they have the benefit of working with an editor, the cover image is a different matter.  Unless an author also happens to be a graphic designer or artist, this is one part of the book-creation process which is probably best handed over to a dedicated professional.

What Makes A Good Cover Image?

Although the cover is probably best created by a professional, it’s important that the author is happy with it.  It therefore helps to understand the elements of a good cover image.  Firstly there should be visual impact.  That means there needs to be something that grabs the viewer’s attention and engages them.  Secondly, it should be in keeping with the overall tone of the book.  A period romance for example, calls for a very different style of cover from a futuristic adventure.  Thirdly it should hint at the contents of the book without being overly blatant.  If there is too much information on the cover itself not only is there the risk of it becoming cluttered and fussy, but it may spoil the reader’s freedom of imagination.  This is particularly true when portraying key characters.  Unless there is some compelling reason to give a detailed physical description of them, then it’s often best to let the reader decide for themselves what they look like.

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