Monday, December 3, 2012

Never Judge a Book by its Cover - Just Click on it

Book covers are supposed to represent the story in a single image and entice a browsing reader to pick that book off a shelf and read the blurb, quotes, first paragraphs, and then buy the book.  With the advent of digital books and millions of competing book covers in massive catalogs, a great book cover is even more important! It is the first click of connection between the author and reader.

You want your book covers and blurbs well presented on your website but you should not feel limited to only that cover and short blurb as the best representation of your book. Excerpts are nice but there's other options to engage a reader in the story of your book at first glance.

Multipubbed authors are re-releasing their back-list books with new covers and making it known how much they hated the original book cover. The authors' vision of the story is now represented in new graphics and colors. The author is thrilled with this new cover, and that this book-of-their-heart-when-it-was-written finally has the cover it deserves. The author is creating more marketing enthusiasm than the story ever tasted in its former time on a bookshelf. Potential readers are willing buy a pre-pubbed story with a new cover by an author who is thrilled with the new cover art - even if it is not a book the reader intended to buy.

Consider this brief story about this book as presented in Trish MacGregor's blog post:

"I wrote this book during my pregnancy in 1989. Ballantine gave it the absolutely most grotesque cover ever. The premise of the story is based on Rupert Sheldrake’s book, Presence of the Past, in which he introduced his theory of morphic resonance – that nature has a memory.

Ballantine labeled the novel “horror,” and while there are certainly elements of that, it’s actually a story about what happens to ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The cover didn’t do much for the sales of the book, which was published in 1990 and went out of print a few years later.
 When I got the rights back to the book some years ago, the rights reversion letter sat in a file. There are 20 or so back list titles in that reversion letter and now, with the advent of ebooks and e-readers, I’m bringing those titles into digital form, one by one, and I’m using my own name. What a concept! Talented Katrina Joyner did the superb cover:"

Did those above three paragraphs entice you to learn more about something related to this 23 year old novel? 

Morphic resonance may have been a radical theory then. Now those two words could be the search words for the audience to find this book. 

As a reader, I am now curious about this story and I will explore more because not only is it a novel written by an award winning writer but I also expect to LEARN SOMETHING NEW.

Therese says: Our recent workshop author, Jessa Slade, was pleased with the rippling abs of her bare-torso-hero book covers - except - these rippling-abs-repentant-demon stories were set during Chicago winters. Aside from some steamy sex scenes with the kick-ass heroine, Jessa's heroes were clothed in many layers of cloth and leather. For the one hero who's story took place during the hot summer months, the cover artist draped a t-shirt over the rippling abs. We call this an artistic foul.
I also had issues with only the heroes on the cover as the heroines truly deserves equal billing. Jessa had issues with the weapons displayed, like one hero is holding the knife that never left the heroine's hand. This opens a can-of-worms debate over the potential of artistic license vs. good marketing. We're not going into that can since we're not into worms.
What if Jessa included a little bit about the mythology laced through her stories - and that her demons are desperate for redemption? 
 The Indie-Digital-Books arena is the new kid on the block and here to stay. An author can actually build a career with little cash investment. Be aware that there are many authors who remain anonymous to the general reading population but still make a good living writing books, and have tons of fun as an author.

Now an author can have more freedom and control over the book cover. A cover designer is required because those skills are different than the ones needed to write a good book. But the days of potential sales of good stories being sabotaged and blocked with a lousy book cover will end when authors can choose the book cover that best represents their story - which will stay "in-print" now.
Deborah Cooke/Claire Delacroix is also working through the dilemma of new covers for her backlist novels, and only recently figured out how to use her sidebars as point of purchase links.  She also shares her knitting projects!
When an author is enthusiastic that the book cover really does represent the story, a potential reader is more likely to want to know more about that story and the author. It's one more fun aspect of seamless self-promotion. You might not feel comfortable with pushing your story - but - hot damn - YOU LOVE THE COVER ART.

Have fun with it!

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