I would like to welcome Patsy to my blog, talking about her debut novel - Escape to the Country.
If like me you've read Patsy's stories already, then you will be eagerly looking forward to reading this. Over to Patsy.
Can you judge a book by its cover?
Publishers spend time, money and effort producing covers for books, although it would be quicker and easier to simply print the title, author name, ISBN and price onto a plain background. Doing that would be of some help to the reader. If we already knew the author's work we could guess whether we might like to read something else by them. The title might give a few clues - 'The Princess who Seduced a Bricklayer' is likely to be rather a different story from ''Zombies on a Spaceship'. I don't think that would be enough to tempt most people to read a book they hadn't heard of by an author they hadn't heard of.
How about printing the title onto a genre specific background colour? Pink for romance, I suppose and something the shade of putrefying flesh for zombie stories and blue for erotica. But I digress... This doesn't happen; books have cover artwork on the front and writing on the back. Does any of this matter?
The blurb on the back is probably the most read part of any book. I'm sure it's not just me who bases many of my reading decisions on those few paragraphs. While it's true that decision might be not to read, in the long run I think it's better for everyone if people don't repeatedly buy books they don't enjoy.
What about the cover artwork then. What can that tell us? I used to think the answer was 'not much' until the publishers of my book 'Escape to the Country' asked me for suggestions. It hadn't occurred to me I'd get a say (I understand new authors often don't) so I wasn't prepared. There's an important scene in the book that's sort of repeated so I felt an illustration of that would be good - and said so.
Then I panicked. The scene I'd described was dark (black and brown, not suicide pact like) my book is light and romantic. People who liked the cover might not enjoy the story. I tried to think if there were any books I'd read just after glancing at the cover. There were - I first discovered JD Robb because there was an image of a snowdrop on the cover of one book so I picked it up (and then read the blurb on the back - but I'd not have got that far with a sci-fi book if it hadn't been for the snowdrop). There were other examples, all of them involving something pretty. My cover wasn't going to be pretty!
Fortunately Phillip Grizzell who actually designed the cover isn't an idiot. He used my suggestion to create something that I feel sums up the book quite well. It's fun, light and romantic - I hope readers will agree the story is too.
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