I’ve just read the excellent blog post, Book covers: Should we put people on them?, by Belinda Pollard. Belinda is an Aussie writer, editor, publishing consultant at Small Blue Dog Publishing, lover of dogs, the wilderness and things spiritual. In her post Belinda talks about what makes a good book cover. This is very timely as I’m in the middle of developing a book cover for my new crime novel (Killer Shoeshine) and eager for all the advice I can get.
As you would expect getting it right is not straightforward, what one person loves another hates. But there is some evidence to suggest certain covers sell more books than others. In a nutshell Belinda says for a cover to work it has to immediately do three things:
- stand out on a crowded shelf? (i.e. be distinctive)
- be clear about its message
- engage the reader emotionally.
And one of the best ways for a cover to achieve this is to place somebody on/in it. She quotes from Derek Murphy of Creativindie who says:
“Having a person on/in the cover creates intrigue and interest. But only if done right.”
Okay, “getting it right” may be easier said than done, but the message loud and clear is:
This was a shock for me. You see, I personally hate seeing people on book covers, especially when they are generic photos of stock models. But what I have suddenly realised (in one of those rare light bulb moments) is that when it comes to covers what I personally like or don’t like doesn’t matter. The important thing is for the cover to do the three above things. It’s fascinating stuff and Belinda has convinced me. Now all I need to do is convince my publisher, AKA the long and suffering other half 😉
What do you think? Do you like seeing people on covers of books? Not convinced? Why not go over to Belinda’s site and check out the full article? It really is worth a read. Plus, Belinda wants your help! She is running a straw poll on two possible covers for her new wilderness thriller, Poison Bay* (due out at the beginning of next year).
As you can see, one cover has a person on it, the other doesn’t. Which do you prefer? Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to tell Belinda your answer and to see the results!
*Belinda briefly says of Poison Bay: My book is about a bunch of people with a shared secret who go trekking in the New Zealand wilderness. Let’s just say, they don’t all come home.