Cover Design Calypso

Everything I ever needed to know about Book Cover Design, I learned in the frozen food aisle of the supermarket...

What makes a great book cover?

Is it color? Is it blurbs from famous authors? Is it just luck? I wish I knew.

Like pornography, I know a great book cover design when I see it, but I can't tell you why it is fantastic, particularly, other than WOW! What a great book cover . It's something that grabs me when I see it. Sadly, it's not like a Chinese menu...one from column A, one from column B, when it comes to cover design.

I do know, though, that I have learned a shocking lesson in this business. Being an avid reader, I of course always assumed that it was what was inside the covers that sold books. But I've learnt otherwise; great covers do sell books, even those with less-than-stellar stories inside of them. And in thinking about it, I realized that I already knew why these books were selling; it's something I learned years ago, when I was ill and had to cruise the aisles of the dreaded "TV Dinner" section of the supermarket. And here's the horrible truth:

People buy frozen dinners based not upon the actual content of the bag or box or TV-Dinner-Tray, but, rather, based upon which company has put the best picture on the cover of the box.

Let me say that again, in case you missed it: When you go to the supermarket frozen-food aisle, and get ready to try something you haven't had before, you will almost always buy the brand with the best-looking image of the food. The brand with the prettiest picture, in other words.

We humans are visual creatures. We're sight-hounds on two legs. This works on television; it works in movies; it works in advertising...and it works for book covers. So keep this in mind when you are preparing your next cover--think of crows, and bright, pretty things.

I once read the best article I've ever read on the topic of cover design, on "creativeindie.com," but the site's been down for ages.  I'd love to reproduce it.  If the person (cover designer) who wrote that article sees this, please contact me if you'd like me to post that article here.  I think it's an incredibly valuable resource.  The original URL for the article in question was:  Awesome Creative Indie Article on Cover Design

Skin Deep cover, from author Timothy Hallinan
The Awesome Skin Deep cover, from author Timothy Hallinan

 

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T'was the Night Before Christmas... 

 (With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, may he forgive my doggerel...)

...and all through the shop,
all we minions were working,
   until ready to drop.

The ebooks were flying,
the covers were spare,
The edits were crazy,
   with "one more thing I must share!"

We waited for Santa,
'Cuz we love old Saint Nick,
But Hitch made us work,
   Waving 'round an old stick!

So slave we all did,
And made all your books,
So that Hitch would say now,
   that we're off the hook.

Come today we're off,
to rest up our fingers,
Our hats we will doff,
   No books they do linger.

But we'll all be back,
Don't give it a thought,
for like all wage slaves,
   we're easily bought.

We'll be back on the fifth,
all eager and fresh,
All ready for you,
   after a well-deserved rest.

So Hitch wants to say,
very strongly and loud,
THANKS ALL YOU GUYS,
  you're the best type of crowd.

Indy and Len and Hitch and the gang,
will be back on the 5th,
to do books with a BANG!

In the meantime don't worry,
if you're in a hurry,
'cuz some poor guy got stuck
   sitting here like a duck.

Your emails we'll receive,
so no need to grieve.
We'll be a bit slow,
but we're raring to go.

Your books will be worked on,
your edits still made,
we're just resting a bit,
   before we all fade.

So please excuse the delays;
It won't be for days;
we'll jump on your queries,
   for your wondrous new series.

We waited for Santa,
'Cuz we love old St. Nick,
And sure 'nuff he came,
   It wasn't a trick.

And as he rode off,
into the night,
I could swear I heard Hitch yell,
   "That Edit's Not Right!"

~~~~~~~~~~

We'll be back on the morning of January 5th; we'll be here parttime between now and then, thanks.