Thursday, July 22, 2010

I’m Covered

Sometimes when I’m giving a book talk, I’ll ask the audience what drives them to purchase a book. Is it the title? The cover copy? The reviews? The terrific things they’ve heard about the witty and charming author standing before them? (Hmm, I don’t get very many positive responses to that one.)

Usually, I’ll get a variety of answers—after all, different people are moved by different things—but for some reason, not everyone admits that a book’s cover is a factor.

Of course, I know they’re lying.

Covers are huge. Covers catch the eye and draw a reader in. Covers entice, set the mood, tantalize the reader with great intrigue. That old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”? Utter hogwash.

Sure, if a reader likes a particular author, the cover may not matter so much. And the cover might not matter if your BFF demands you read a book because it was the best book ever. But if you’re on the fence about a book, then how you feel about the cover is definitely part of the equation.

That’s why publishers hire talented cover designers. That’s why there’s so much emphasis placed on designing the perfect cover for each book. Why do you think publishers have wonderful, slick, glossy catalogs? To display their wonderful, slick, glossy covers!!!

I’m still relatively new in the publishing business, but I have learned one thing: My publisher, Midnight Ink, designs the best covers in the business.

Not that you need it, but here’s some more evidence. I present to you the cover for KILLER ROUTINE:

Killer Routine 300dpi


Thanks Midnight Ink.


Okay, here are the discussion questions for today. Will the rise of the ebook lessen the importance of a good cover? Will covers have to change in the ebook era? How?




Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love it! It's got a sort of noir feel to it, too. Great job again, Midnight Ink!

As far as ebooks and covers, go, I'll go out on a limb and say that covers will become MORE important. In fact, I think they're more important right now than they've ever been. At a bookstore or at the library when you're browsing, the covers are all hidden except for the spine. You have to pull out the book to be influenced by the cover.

Online buyers see all the covers that pertain to their search. So there's a full page of covers to look at on the new release page for mysteries.

Ebooks are the same way--you browse them online and see a group of covers at once.

Congrats again on the great cover, Alan!

G.M. Malliet said...

Love the cover. Eye-catching. When is this one out - did you say?

Mary said...

Love this cover, Alan. Can't wait for the book.
According to this I don't fit the norm--no revelation there. With me covers and authors are interchangeably first. I check displays first when just browsing.
Buying online makes the cover even more important if you don't recognize the author. I would have at least checked out Killer Routine because of the cover, then the title.
When is it out?

Deborah Sharp said...

Fabulous cover, Alan ...
the effect of ebooks on covers, I think, is going to be like the demise of beautiful album cover art (remember albums?) as the format goes smaller and smaller (or digital), a lot of detail is going to be lost. Plus, how do you sign a download?

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Great cover, Alan! Midnight does fabulous covers. I've never been disappointed with mine.

I agree with Elizabeth. I think covers will be more important with e-books as publishers try to catch the attention of online buyers. They will be doing more covers that work both online and in stores.

I, for one, do not believe e-books will ever replace printed books. Marketing will evolve to serve both.

Beth Groundwater said...

The answer to your question lies in the answer to this question: "With most people buying their music on-line these days, what's the importance of album covers?"

Keith Raffel said...

Alan, I think the key to your great new cover is the job you did posing as the dead man. Good work!

Alan Orloff said...

Thanks for all the kudos about the cover. MI does TERRIFIC work!

Elizabeth - I agree, in browsing a catalog on-line, a good cover will stand out.

Gin - KILLER ROUTINE comes out in April (April Fool's Day, in fact).

Mary - Yes, I agree. A good cover catches my eye and begs me to investigate further.

Deb - The small size of the on-line covers concerns me, too. I can't see as well as I used to! BTW, I saw someone getting their Kindle signed at Thrillerfest. Weird!

Sue Ann - I'm with you. There's enough room for both printed and ebooks. And movies, and TV, and audiobooks, and video games, and...

Beth - I've got about 800 vinyl records and I absolutely love the album covers. Digital thumbnails just don't cut it.

Keith - Thanks. It's nice to be recognized for one's talents.

Darrell James said...

Alan- I'm one of the hold-outs,I have yet to buy an eBook or even look at them on-line. The cover has always been a major part of my buying decision. My assumption is "if the cover doesn't intrigue me, the book won't either."

Your cover does it for me! It's fabulous! Congratulations to you and Midnight!

Lois Winston said...

Great cover!

Book covers have always been important because the cover is the first thing a book buyer sees when walking into a bookstore. Something like 80-90% of all people who shop in bookstores never wander beyond the front displays unless they're headed for the coffee or the kids' section. So covers have always been an important selling tool for publishers.

The books that are shelved spine out in various sections throughout the store are either backlists or books that got no co-op dollars from the publisher for face-out placement. Unfortunately, most people have to be looking for a specific title or author to find those books.

The average shopper is first attracted to a book's cover. Then picks the book up to read the back cover blurb. If still interested, he or she might then read a page or two before making a decision as to whether or not to buy the book.

Will this change with ebooks? I don't know, but like some of the others who have already commented, I think the cover will be as important if not more so for ebook sales. I guess time will eventual prove us either right or wrong, but if we're wrong, I wonder what it will be that will first attract a buyer and what will clinch the sale.

Alice Loweecey said...

Alan, that is a great cover!

I'm also of the opinion that covers will remain very important.

Alan Orloff said...

Darrell - I haven't jumped into the ebook ocean myself. But I'm sure I will...

Lois - As far as attracting buyers, maybe a little animation will catch people's eyes. Or click on a book cover and up comes a book trailer.

Alice - I like your new cover, too!