|One of the books offered by https://blinddatewithabook.com/|
Our last blog post asked whether it mattered to you if the author was a man or a women and many, many of you read it and some commented. One bookseller stated that while selling books they noticed women buy books written by men but that few men bought books written by women. This bookseller noted that covers should be neutral to avoid this issue. This comment got me thinking, how much are we driven to read a book by the messages we receive from the cover?
I started researching, my favorite thing to do, and found this site above, which offers books wrapped in brown paper and with only a quick synopsis on the cover. This image caught me. Those five lines are some of my favorite elements in a thriller and I wouldn’t need more to buy it. And if it introduced me to a new author or to one I hadn’t yet read, all the better! So what would happen if I unwrapped this book and the cover wasn’t to my liking? Based on that first impression I’d still read it. How lucky would it have been that the author would have reached me despite a less than desirable cover?
Before I go any further, I should mention that as authors we often have little control over the covers we receive. We get to view them in advance and weigh in and sometimes our suggestions are adopted, but we rarely have the final say. In my case I’ve been more than willing to let the cover designer have at it–I’m an author not a graphic designer and more often than not the cover has been well done.
And this intriguing idea led me to think about all of the misleading covers on books that I’ve seen over the years. Most of these covers must have been driven by a marketing decision made somewhere by someone who didn’t really understand the book or who picked up on one aspect of it but not the rest. For example, check out the cover to the right. If you saw this, what would you assume? Romance, right?
But you’d only be half right. This book is a sweeping story of India and two English citizens caught in the brutal Siege of Lucknow in 1857. At almost 800 pages and based on an actual wartime event, it’s more aligned with Gone With The Wind, and the battle scenes are brutal depictions of historical fact. The incongruous cover must have been the subject of discussion, because I also found the alternative cover below, which plays up the exotic locale more than the romance.
All of this is not to say that covers that point us in a certain direction are bad, they’re not. It would be strange to have a romance novel set in Regency England with a picture of a woman in modern dress, but I think that the idea of neutral covers and perhaps gender neutral names has some merit. I haven’t yet gone that route, but I’m currently working on a historical thriller and it’s not inconceivable that I use a pseudonym in order to clearly delineate that historical from my present day thrillers. I haven’t yet made up my mind, but Karna’s last post and the recent Wall Street Journal article discussing such names have me thinking.
Whatever I decide, I’ll try to keep my covers true to the full expanse of the story and still give the reader an idea of what’s within. In the meantime, I’ve written five short lines about my upcoming Emma Caldridge novel: