Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Judge a Book By Its Cover (or My Covers Better Kick A$$)

Tip of the Day: Head to local spring/summer festivals -- they can offer settings, characters, and experiences for novels! (And those deep fried Snickers bars....)

More library weeding words, this time from the cover art corner.

No matter how good a YA novel from a mid-list author's jacket copy reads or how exciting it sounds, if it was:
1. Published between 1997 and 2001, and
2. The cover art is a watercolor or colored pencil drawing, then
3. No one will read it in the years 2007-2008.

YA covers today are flashy, catchy, bright, colorful, gritty, gorgeous, dark, mysterious, intriguing.

Not washed out, not 2-D, and not, well, boring.

Sadly, many covers from the late 90s ARE boring. Kids today who like the bright glitz will not be attracted to these. If a dull-covered book COULD (should?) go out based on its story line and good writing, I can't even put it face out on the shelf to get someone to pick it up. But if I put a more recent book face out that has a fab cover, even if the writing/story are mediocre, someone will still check it out.

I've tried.

A boring cover = a boring book in many minds. Teens who grew up with Pixar as opposed to 2-D Disney won't be impressed as easily as those of us who were teens in the 80s and 90s. Sad but true, and the marketing ppl know it.

So I hope when my book gets bought, I get a fabu cover that will stand the test of time!

What "old" books do you wish had better covers that would still attract teens now?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped


amuse me said...

This goes for adults too -- maybe that's sad to admit. But I never would have read Margaret Atwood's except for the fact the cover of The Blind Assassin caught my eye. She is a wonderful, insightful author and the cover is what got me started. I guess we do judge a book by its cover sometimes.

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Great post, Deena! I can't think of a book right now...maybe that's because I passed on them too! (probably not--more likely is the request for revision that's got my brain muddled!)

D. Moonfire said...

Sadly, I judge books by their cover. Mainly as I'm walking down the book store and see something that fits my preferences (blue and green covers, anything sketched verses photographs).

I remember the cover to "So You Want to Be a Wizard" the first time, which had the most horrid of covers. The reprints were a lot more dynamic and enjoyable. Bunnicula was also pretty boring, but I read it because in that day and age, I just started at one end of the shelf and started reading the library. :)

I also remember "A Wind in the Willow" being a confusing cover.

Though, the "Wizard of Earthsea" (okay, not YA really but I read it then) had a very bland cover, I think a woodcut or something, and I thought it was going to be a terrible book (and it ended up being my favorite until I read Paksenarrion which it is tied for my favorite).

DeenaML said...

Meryl -- Yes, you're right -- adult books, too! I've heard that red and yellow covers tend to sell now.

Ghost -- revision request?????!!!!!???? More details!

d. -- BUNNICULA is a horribly boring cover! But those books were fab when I was a kid. I think I judged a book by its cover LESS as a kid and MORE as a recommendation (since the James Howe books were all recommended to me by my librarian).

Kate Fall said...

My daughter's recent paperback copy of Bunnicula has a great cover with red drippy blood font. I love seeing how covers change over time. My daughter's into the Judy Blume Fudge books now. I checked out an older copy of SuperFudge ... oh, the cover was AWFUL. The parents looked like fat hippies. Nobody would pick it up if they didn't already know what they'd be getting.

And I've rejected reading books because I don't like the FONT on the cover. I hope my future books don't get Comic Sans or something.

GG, I want to hear about the revision request too!!

D. Moonfire said...

I found that I'm pickier about a book via its cover the larger the stack of books I want to read is. :) When it is empty... I think, haven't had that in years, I'll grab any old book based on random finger selection, but when it hits the one meter mark, it needs pretty colors. :)

I just republished one of my books (on a different byline) and font was one of those things people gave me feedback on. Ended up going with something I don't like, but looked MUCH better than what I picked. :) And just because people said they wanted to judge it by its cover.

Emily Marshall said...

I hear yea, it's sad by true. I have to pick books to display that have better covers. They will get picked up more.

And I'm probably the worst out of the bunch. I try not to judge a book by it's cover. But it's really hard not to let it enter your brain when browsing for books. Pretty covers always stick out.