Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?

Most of us do. At least if you’re a reader of mass market paperbacks. The cover art determines if we pick up the book and read the back cover blurb.

Here’s how it usually goes for me: I look at the cover, something catches my eye (a nice set of male abs always works), I flip the book and scan the blurb, I turn it back over and imagine the characters in the midst of conflict, I turn it back over re-read the blurb (more slowly this time), and if I like what I read on the back and I what I saw on the front, I hug that puppy to my chest like gold bullion and race to the nearest checkout counter.

So yeah…in my humble opinion, cover art is THAT important!

Does the author have any say in what goes on the front cover?

I’ve discussed this issue with several published writers (since I’m unpublished, I have to go with their experiences) and what I learned was “sometimes”. A nebulous answer because it depends on so many factors.

• Does the writer have an agent? “Sometimes” agents will negotiate or help fight for decent cover art.

• Does the publishing contract include consultation on cover art? Not usually, especially for a debut author, but “sometimes” it can be negotiated. Once again, negotiations for debut writers or those with limited publication are not common since most contracts are standard.

• Is the novel published in category? “Sometimes” the cover must adhere to a distinct design predetermined by the house. Think Harlequin Intrigue. The consistency in cover design is synonymous with the line. This is a good thing for those readers focused on a specific sub-genre.

• Will the book be published only in digital format? “Sometimes” e-book publishers will allow the author’s input on cover design. “Sometimes” but not always. I’ve talked to one author who was allowed to send in her ideas for the cover and given three options to choose from. I spoke with another who basically said what they gave her was what she got.

• Are you an Indie writer pursuing self-publishing through Smashwords or any one of several avenues popping up for the DIY author? If so, and you’re somewhat computer savvy, you can design your own cover art. You have complete control. Or “sometimes” writers hire a graphic artist to design the cover for them with varying degrees of creative input.There are lots of great websites available when designing your own cover art. Many are easy on the pocketbook. I’ve listed some great resources for your perusal:

Romance Novel Covers

Work some magic on Photoshop or your favorite photo editing software and voila! A cover for your soon-to-be released e-book. Make sure you design the cover so it reads clearly in small size. Most readers will be perusing a thumbnail copy of your cover as part of an online catalog.

If you’ve had experience with designing your own cover or have other sites you would like to recommend, I’d love to hear about it!

Here’s wishing each and every one of you a fulfilling New Year. May all your dreams and aspirations come true!