The cover on the left is Spooning Daisy as published. The cover on the right is how the author would have liked the cover to look.
What’s in a Cover?
What’s in a cover? That, which we call a romance, with any other cover, would still read as sweet. Right?
In theory. And my apologies to Will Shakespeare for mangling Juliet’s heartfelt plea to Romeo. Not that he was ever going to change his name from Montague to Smyth. Nonetheless, the question remains—what’s in a cover?
Everything. Unless you’re Nora, Tessa, or (insert the name of your favorite best-selling author here). Then you don’t need a cover, let alone a good one. Probably could do without a title. Just “a book by” and you’re good to go. But for unknown authors like me, everything.
It’s the first impression. And you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Yet, depending on the cover, it might be a bad first impression. Then what?
Don’t judge a book by its cover? Although my mom used that metaphor when a geeky senior boy asked sophomore me to a high school dance, I’m positive it originated from an author unhappy with her cover. I mean, if we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover illustration, why have one? Nonetheless, it gives me hope. Maybe readers will buy my “smart, sexy, zinger of a romance” (in the words of one reviewer) despite a double whammy of a cover—bland and poorly rendered. I look at the illustration and see “simple, sweet, blahhh.” My book and my cover are at cross-purposes.
With so many books vying for attention, and so little time, can readers be expected to ignore covers and judge a book instead by the blurb and a few beginning pages? Perhaps all books should have brown paper covers like the book jackets I used to make out of grocery bags for my high school textbooks. (Some of you will remember these; others will be going “huh?”) Then “judging a book by its cover” will become as obsolete as VHS tapes.
In the early 1900’s publishers began in earnest using illustrated covers to convey information about books. I’m almost certain publishers got the idea from canned goods whose labels had illustrations of whatever was inside. Thing is, you don’t put a picture of a pickle on a can of peaches. Or you end up with unhappy customers, thinking they’re buying one thing and getting another. The packaging is there to tell the consumer what’s inside. And so it is—or should be—with a book cover.
Authors who don’t like their covers aren’t exactly rare. But there are legitimate complaints. When I presented the cover of Spooning Daisy to my friends…silence. After I admitted that I didn’t like the depiction either, the relief was palpable; we had a cathartic rant of all its misses. Finally, someone said (wishing to make me feel better, I’m sure), “It’s really not that bad.” The problem is, “not that bad” isn’t the look I’m going for in either a new hairstyle or a book cover.
Many years ago, before the internet provided millions of books at the click of a button, I would visit my local bookstore, choose a book and read the opening pages, until I found a story I couldn’t put down. When I hold a book in my hands, it’s easier to ignore covers, although my initial interest still begins with the cover. Today, with bricks and mortar crumbling around us, and the internet our primary shopping source, if the cover art doesn’t hook the reader you want—instead of chasing her away—the book is as doomed as Romeo & Juliet.
Blurb from Amazon: It’s a long way from Seattle to Otter Bite, Alaska. But if one woman can survive the trip–and the locals–she just might find what her heart has been searching for.
Her mango chutney is exquisite; her blueberry sauce is to die for. But right now, Chef de Cuisine Daisy Moon is a woman without a kitchen–and without a fiancé. Unceremoniously dumped from her place of business and her relationship, Daisy sells her belongings, plus a few of her ex’s, and packs her bags. Maybe smashing all the china in her former restaurant was a bad move. Stripped of her Golden Spoon for “un-chef-like” conduct, she is now blacklisted all over Seattle. Her sole job offer is from the Wild Man Lodge…in Otter Bite, Alaska.
Too bad Daisy can’t even get out of Dodge without incident. By the time she boards a ship for Alaska, she’s got a trail of new troubles behind her, and suddenly Otter Bite is sounding pretty good. But the vessel turns into her own personal Titanic when a series of close encounters confirms her terrible taste in men–including one very good looking bad luck charm named Max Kendall. She vows to dedicate the rest of her days to chowders and brulée. Yet even Alaska isn’t far enough away to shake the memories of the sexy shipmate who rocked her cabin–and her world. Thank goodness she’s done with surprises–but they may not be done with her…
Purchase from Amazon: Spooning Daisy