Covers matter

posted in: On writing | 2

The whole idea of having a nice cover for a book is to entice people to pick it up (or tap on it in the current paradigm) and find out more about it with a view to actually forking out money to buy it. In order to do that, the cover must signal a few things to the potential reader. What genre is it? What age group is it intended for? Maybe a hint of what it is about.

Each genre has its own tropes. For instance, a cover featuring a headless man with well-developed abs is going to be a romance that’s heavy on the sex. Flowing fonts for titles and handsome lads and lasses in Regency style clothes will likely be a period romance. If there’s a spaceship you would probably be right in guessing it’s science fiction.

This stuff has been around for years, well before the internet. You know, back when big publishers employed graphic artists to design their covers. So I was a bit surprised to see this cover for Agatha Christie’s famous novel Murder on the Orient Express. Admittedly, it’s for the ebook version, so maybe they figured it didn’t matter. Here it is.

Anybody who reads/views crime fiction would know the plot of the movie. In essence, a man is murdered on the Orient Express as it travels from Istanbul to Paris. The train is halted by a massive snow storm. The murderer must have been a passenger in the first class carriage and Hercule Poirot is charged with working out who dunnit.

To give it its due, this cover does include a train. And the title is in a sans-serif font often used in crime novels. And that’s about it. The man and woman seem to be an arbitrary stock photo. They have nothing to do with the plot. I’ll admit there are plenty of other covers for this book – but this is what I got when I bought it. Of course, the author and the book are so well known that the cover probably doesn’t matter.

For a bit of fun, I had a go at creating my own version of a cover. Here it is.

I think that’s much better. Don’t you?

2 Responses

  1. Viv McCarthy-Frazer

    An improvement but Poiret should always be portrayed by David Suchet.

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