Followers of this blog would be aware I’m searching for a new book cover for my novel Starheart. During that process, I was sent a link where well-credentialed book cover designer Chip Kidd said “People don’t buy a book on the Web because of the cover….They’ll buy a book on the Web because they’ve read a review or it’s word of mouth or some combination of the two.” (Read the whole article here.)
Sorry, Mr Kidd, I beg to differ, and the discussion over the cover for Starheart is a case in point. (See the last blog post and read the comments.) I think the cover is still a very important selling tool. Get it wrong and you’ll miss out on sales.
Quite some time ago I wrote an article about covers for Book Wenches, where I described my experience when I first put a set of abs on the cover of The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy. In a nutshell, sales took off on Omnilit when I introduced a new cover. Covers is a corollary of audience. First, establish who your audience is, and then design a cover to suit them. In my case, where most of my audience is likely to be women who enjoy science fiction, a picture of a ripped guy is always going to attract the eye. Have a look at the SF section on Omnilit.
I had come to the conclusion that Starheart has the wrong cover. This is what reviewer AB Shepherd had to say. “I don’t like the cover on this one and had I judged the book by it, I would never have read it. The cover makes it look like a cheesy Harlequin Romance on a space station. That is NOT what this book is.” Here’s her full review.
Mind you, the new cover of Starheart won’t have rippling abs on the front. While I guess The Iron Admiral is a romance in that the romance sub-plot is an essential part of the storyline, that’s not true of Starheart – andhaving asked readers which cover they prefer, the kick-ass heroine won hands down. We shall see.
So am I right that even for an e-book we judge a book by its cover? What do folks think? I know quite a few of my readers are fellow writers – but put on your reader hat. What causes you to pick up an e-book and look a little further?