First Impressions-Book Covers

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We often say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, and I say that in the case of book cover art “words” could be changed to “readers”. With so many books available and so many thumb-sized images to sort through, one of the best ways to gain readership is to make sure that in the first seconds a reader’s eyes land on your book cover, he/she is enticed enough to peel back that cover. Book covers should hook readers much like the first lines of a book; they should entice them enough to spend additional seconds, turn those into minutes, and ultimately spend hours delving into the story behind that enticing cover.

For those authors who are also expert cover artists, I applaud your skills. It is a talent every bit as refined as authoring a book. For those of us who have no business handling this aspect of book publishing, we benefit from surrendering to the talents of such artists. I had the pleasure of meeting my cover artist through a collective that I joined in 2012. Chelsea Starling has created covers for all 3 of my books published over the past few years, and though she only creates covers for a few exclusive clients, she is also a web designer specializing in author web sites (if you are in need of a site, visit her at Starling Magic).

I had it easy from the start where my covers were concerned. I offered a few key ideas and Chelsea conjured up covers beyond my imaginings. For example, I knew that I wanted the cover for ARROW OF THE MIST to be mostly black, include thorny vines, have Lia—a teen girl with a crossbow and red hair—on one side, and a drop of blood somewhere on the other side to match the hair. That’s all I gave her to go on and she created a cover that pretty much hit the mark the very first go around. Cover number two for ARMS OF ANU had nearly the same quick and wonderful creation process AND I am thrilled to announce has just been nominated for Best Supernatural Cover at the utopYA 2015 Awards in June.

Perhaps my greatest advice to an author with regards to working with an accomplished cover artist is to remember that that person is the artist, the expert, the one with the keen eye and skill set needed for such a task. Having a voice as the author is important, but then follow that with a good measure of surrender to allow the artist’s “muse” to create that oh-so-important first impression your book deserves.

If you are in the market for an expert cover artist (or for many other experts involved in the writing and publishing process), check out Indie-Visible.  As one of the co-founders, I can attest for our PubHub feature where authors can “Build Their Publishing Teams” by utilizing a referral list of Recommended Freelancers (at least one of our crew can vouch for them!). Our goal there is to provide authors a place to find experts with skills either not contained in their own bags of tricks and/or to find experts who can take on tasks authors might simply not have time enough to accomplish on their own.

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Christina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. Honored titles include Tween Fantasy ARROW OF THE MIST and its sequel ARMS OF ANU, and YA Paranormal Romance HONEY QUEEN. She is also the co-founder of Christina enjoys life in the foothills of Northern California with her husband and sons, a pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. For more about her and her writing, visit: | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


6 thoughts on “First Impressions-Book Covers

  1. Arrow of the Mist is an amazing cover, and every time my tween goes browsing on my shelves for a book to read, she stops and looks at it. We *shouldn’t* judge a book by its cover, but… we do. And for tweens, I think it’s especially important that we appeal to their imagination. Great post!

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more about the importance of a eye-catching, professionally done cover! And you clearly follow your own advice 🙂

  3. Great post! One usually needs to see an image 4-7 times before the message clicks and the image is seared into the brain. This is why quality book covers are important. A person is more likely recognize your book cover and think, “I’ve heard of this book,” versus reading or hearing the title, etc. Plus, as you pointed out, the assumption is the book cover reflects the quality of what’s between the covers.

    If anyone is looking for an exceptional book cover designer, I highly recommend David C. Cassidy. He redesigned or designed the Cassidy Jones Adventures book covers (he didn’t create the art, but did do what he could to improve it). He also wrote the blurbs and tag lines. His work is genius.

    1. Thank you so much, Elise. 🙂
      Terrific post. I agree, it’s those first impressions of our books that tend to have the greatest impact. It’s a sad fact, but it’s true, readers tend to judge a book by its cover. We can’t underestimate the power of imagery in capturing the imagination right from the start.

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