How much does the cover of a book influence your decision, if not to buy, then at least to pick it up and take a look? Although we’d like to think otherwise, covers strongly influence our choice of reading. Sure, if you’re looking for something specific because you’ve heard it’s great, you probably won’t let your opinion of its cover dissuade you. But how about when you’re browsing the mystery and thriller section of your local bookstore, looking for that next new read?
Like a grand entrance at a speed dating event, the cover of a book makes that all-important first impression. The colors, the graphics, the layout all provide a strong visceral feeling that either draws the reader like the call of a siren or else repulses like a bad toupee dangling askew on a sweaty forehead. Moreover, a cover often sets up a certain expectation in the reader’s mind. Will the story be funny, dramatic, scary, or intense?
Take a look at the covers below and think about which you would be most likely to pick up:
(And yes, these are all actual covers for the same book – my first novel DEATH ON TOUR.)
The image on the left is the original cover, used on both the hardback and mass market paperback English editions. The image in the middle is the cover used for the German translation. The image on the right is the cover used for the English large print edition. (The title in German translates roughly to “Murder Inclusive” and is a play on the term “all-inclusive” used for travel packages.)
My point is that these three covers give three completely different impressions of my novel. So different, in fact, that they easily could belong to three entirely different books. Personally, I find one of them far more appealing than the others, which are attractive, but not compelling. (I’m not telling which is my favorite.) As an aside, authors typically have little or no say about the covers of their books. I was lucky enough to be shown the initial sketches and final art of the English translation, but I saw the covers of the other two only after they hit the shelves.
I’d love to know which you think is the most compelling. And if you’ve read my book, I’m dying to know which one provides the most “truth in advertising.”