Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Why you NEED a Good Cover for YOUR Book

It sounds so silly, doesn't it? Judging a book by its cover? Such an immature thing, and something we're taught as a child is that looks don't matter - what's inside is more important. However, this is a topic that happens to pop up so frequently that I dare to put off doing a post on this any longer.
I'm quite a shallow individual - I enjoy pretty things (people and book covers included). Judging a book by the cover is second nature to me, and if there's a bad cover, I will simply stay away from it. Don't get me wrong, some books out there have bad covers and become best sellers! Though that isn't usually the case, and the promotion for those books? It's usually staggering.
A good book cover does many, many things. For one, it helps a reader understand what exactly they'll be reading which is more than important. If I want to read a horror, I won't read a book with a bright yellow cover with a happy, smiling woman on the front. If I want to read a comedy, I don't want the cover to have a dead person on the front, or back.
Do you see what I'm saying? Not only does a cover tell you what genre the book is, but humans are hard-wired to appreciate pretty things. We mostly see this when people judge other human beings. We are drawn to attractive people, and by association, we will assume pretty people have other positive traits... such as being smart, funny, popular, successful. There was a great Buzzfeed video which I'll link to eventually, about a woman collecting for charity - she had more than twice the amount of money donated to her when she was dressed properly, and only a pittance was collected when she looked tired, with no makeup.
Even babies are wired to think this way. This great post will explain more about how babies prefer looking at beautiful people. And whilst beauty varies from nation to nation, it doesn't vary vastly person-to-person. Beauty, as it were, is not in the eyes of the beholder. But I digress: what does this have to do with book covers? It's simple! Your book cover must stand out to attract people. Minimalism is something that has flourished lately, but sadly, it isn't always the best way to get an audience. Whilst establishing yoursel it is important to look at your book and fork out your cash for a good cover design.

Now, what about other aspects of cover design (we won't say a word about pretty people from now on)? Well, contextualisation is important for a lot of reasons. As a media student, I spend far too much time looking at DVD covers and films, trying to say "this means that". Sadly, every human is born into this culture of association... so if you want to connote death, use dark colours, use iconography, all that pizazz.
When we design things, we need to think stereotypically: blonde girls for romance, guns for war, brutish New York gentlemen for mob stories... Germany and similar countries have got this done right. Whilst some people think of covers as giving insight to the cast of your book, others see it as a marketting tool. Your character could have black skin and blue hair, but the girl on the cover could be pale with black hair. See where I'm doing with this? It's easy to rehash your character for cover purposes, and in fact, it's proven to improve sales. This isn't without controversy, however. A lot of people accuse designers of racism (usually Americans and SJWs) when they do things like this. In reality, there's no racism. There's a proven market, and all authors want to sell their books. People often want to appear 'nicer' than they are, but it just won't sell.

Having a well designed cover is also important to make sure people know what book it is. Having a stock image with text blending into it isn't smart. Ebooks especially must be wary of this.
The ebook market is flooded, so making sure your name and title sticks out is vital to ensuring your book is not mistaken for another. It has become ever increasingly important to fight for media buzz and synergy, so having an easily recognisable cover is important in that regard, too.

Why do you think it's important to judge a book by the cover? Do you think this is a myth?

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