Talk about getting things backwards…

DaVinciCodeSolution

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper

If all that matters to you as a writer, or reader are pretty pictures like the one above take a trip to an art gallery or museum.

What am I on about?

These days more and more writers fall into the trap over what their book’s cover looks like. A lot obsess over it. Before you say anything, yes I accept it’s all part of the modern day sales pitch when it comes to paperbacks and eBooks.

But remember this – until you have built up a faithful readership, as long as night follows day, having a spectacular cover is no guarantee of sales. What sells is your writing talent and the story itself.

“Ah, but having one improves my book’s chance,” I hear hundreds of you caustically shriek. Not necessarily true!

For example, I know several fellow writers who have spent a lot of hard earned money on each and every cover of their books. Yes I grant you the end result is eye-catching. But when you have a chat in private with each writer and ask how many copies of book X,Y or Z actually sold, most will say it made little or no difference whatsoever.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble here people, but, you can have the most artistically produced cover ever conceived, but if you the author are unknown, or the story itself is either below par, or its genre is currently out of vogue, no amount of time, money and effort put into the cover art, will induce people to buy. Last time I checked, you don’t read a picture unless its the speech bubbles on each page of a comic!

Most reputable publishers focus on the quality of the books they are responsible for, avoiding the need for individual cover design. Remember Penguin?Β  With no fancy picture to distract the reader, Penguin relied on you the reader perusing the first few pages. All actual bookshops allow you to open a book at page one and read a paragraph or chapter. The same applies to eBooks. Most online outlets selling them give you a ‘look inside’ option to sample the story.

In some countries around the world, books are sold sans cover, relying on the quality of the story waiting to be read. That’s how it should be…

10 thoughts on “Talk about getting things backwards…

  1. I agree with you to some degree Jack, to pay 100’s (in some cases 1000’s) USD or GBP’s for a cover is not worth it unless you are already in the Big Time and can afford it – however, I do think that a reasonably attractive cover may, in some way, help attract a reader to at least look inside the cover at the synopsis (for paperbacks) or make them stop a second to check out the synopsis when running down the ebooks on display online and I’m not just saying that because I’ve recently started doing covers, but because my aim is to:
    (a) give good quality covers at low affordable cost to Indie authors
    (b) try and help them attract buyers to their books.

    πŸ™‚

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    • At the risk of being accused of repeating myself, ultimately what sells is your writing talent and the story itself, not the cover. I don’t buy a book because of its cover. Why, because often these days, covers bear little or no resemblance to the text. Some cover art is lurid to the point of being nothing more than an excuse to produce a picture that will offend Chris.

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      • “these days, covers bear little or no resemblance to the text” – Agreed

        “Some cover art is lurid to the point of being nothing more than an excuse to produce a picture that will offend” – Agreed

        However, I have to say that the covers on your books are all good quality, relevant and were instrumental to drawing my attention to them long before I actually got to know you Jack πŸ™‚

        Perhaps, I’m just a little strange in that regard, after all, I’m only a silly old ape LOL πŸ˜€

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    • Unfortunately with mine – a mere handful among several million out there, the general public simply aren’t interested to even click on the ‘Read Inside’ feature any more. Even if you offer a book for free…

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  2. Hi Jack, I, as a reader/writer, of course agree that the quality of the story/writing is the most important factor in buying a book, but I’m also an art-lover and am drawn to attractive covers. I could compare it to a well-cooked meal being bland to the eye…Well written back-blurb is also a draw for me if I’m not familiar with the author. Having worked for a publisher way back when, ‘luck:’ good and bad, does come into the equation. Good luck with your books.Cheers.

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