A Few Words About Book Covers
I know enough about Photoshop to be a danger to myself, so right now I design my own book covers. That may change in the future; time will tell. Since I create my own covers, I’ve done some research on what a good one should or shouldn’t look like.
There are several websites out there with information about what makes a good or bad book cover. A lot of their information has to do with layout and things technically artistic. Some information makes obvious sense, like the cover should relate to the plot or subject, and should certainly be legible. But one thing I noticed while researching was that some of the covers rated the highest weren’t necessarily the most striking. They didn’t have the type of imagery that would catch my attention if I were browsing the aisles in Barnes & Noble. So I thought about some of my favorite books–ones that I remember well and might even have read more than once. I asked myself if the cover influenced my purchasing that book.
Well, many of the novels I read, I read because they were written by one of my favorite authors. I would have bought those books even if they didn’t have a cover. However, I’d purchased others because the cover caught my attention and made me stop to check it out. But in either case, thinking back to those novels, I couldn’t remember the covers. Hell, I can’t remember the covers of the books I’m currently reading!
I can only think of a handful of book covers that had such an impact that they’ve stuck in my mind, and those were from when I was a kid. Those covers were paintings by the late, great artist Frank Frazetta.
When I was twelve years old I was in my neighborhood bookstore, browsing for something to read, when this particular paperback cover caught my eye. The cover featured some crazy looking dude with a long knife fighting a monstrous ape (okay, I was twelve!). The book was titled Conan the Barbarian. Sword and Sorcery wasn’t my kind of fiction, but I bought that book just for the cover. That purchase resulted in my becoming a fan of Robert E. Howard’s tales of the barbarian from a time before our time. I bought other books in the series, and even though I’ve forgotten 99.9 percent of the stories, I still remember those covers by Mr. Frazetta.
I say all that simply to say that in my humble opinion, it’s rare that a book cover has a lasting impact on a reader. It’s all about the story. The purpose of a book’s cover is to get a potential reader to stop and look. So that’s what I’m going to try to do with my covers – get you to stop and look. Then hopefully, what I write will be interesting enough to compel you to take the story with you, and to hold it in your memory for years to come.