State Library of Victoria \ Inside a dog
Skip to main content

What's in a cover?

Oct 08,2012
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

I thought I’d use a couple of these posts to talk about some of the things that happen before a new novel hits the shelves (or at least my experiences with them.) I’ll start with watching the cover come together for 'Shadows'.

Whether we like it or not, readers judge books by their covers. Hopefully they’ll get as far as the synopsis before making a final decision, but there’s no doubt a cover influences whether or not someone picks up a book in the first place. And let's face it, people's views on covers are totally subjective.

I didn't have a cover in mind (a good thing, I think), but I was hoping for something atmospheric, a little moody and more indicative than literal. I wanted to give readers a hint that 'Shadows' was slightly left of centre.

The process with my publisher (Text Publishing) was incredibly inclusive. My editor, Alison Arnold, kept me in the loop and asked for my feedback as we went along. It's not always like that for authors (especially newbies like me), so I know how lucky I was.

Ali and I chatted about the cover and then she briefed WH Chong, Text's awesome in-house artist. (You only have to check out the Text catalogue to see the range and depth of his creativity.)

Here's his initial, stunning design:

File 11260










I loved it. Ali loved it. My agent – the very experienced and savvy Lyn Tranter – then pointed out that while it was beautiful, it didn’t necessarily fit with what readers of paranormal stories look for in a cover. She made the valid observation that most of those stories have covers with figures of people on them (or faces in some cases).

Chong went back to the drawing board and produced something totally different – a guy with a hoodie and wings. We loved that too (all of us).

Ali showed the two concepts to Text’s marketing gurus and several booksellers, and everyone agreed the most striking cover was the guy with the hoodie. The gold design on the white background just leapt off the page.

So, after a few minor tweaks, this was the end result (complete with the wonderful quote from Claudia Gray, who kindly read 'Shadows' earlier this year):

File 11266










And, in case you’re interested, here’s a completely different cover for the edition of 'Shadows' being released in the United Kingdom in January through Indigo Books (Orion Books):

File 11269











What do you think?

Oct 30,2012
I agree I think most of us judge books by its cover because that's what makes us want to read the book or not.
Oct 30,2012
Yes, readers do judge books by their covers because that's what they see at first glance. The covers have to look interesting to attract someone's attention but what the story is like matters as well.
Oct 30,2012
Bianca and Haha. I agree. :) Particularly about some books being better than their covers indicate (and the other way around of course!)
Oct 29,2012
Readers always judge books by its covers as that is the first thing that attracts there eyes. When readers pick up books’ it is mainly because of what they see so the cover. I think it is very important to have a great cover as that is what readers make them chose a book. However it is still important not to judge a book by its cover because it could have a fantastic story but not a great cover.
Oct 24,2012
The covers have to be standing out or people are just going to ignore the book so yes because can be a little judging on the front cover.
Oct 17,2012
Great comments. :) It really is interesting how different a vibe different readers get from different covers (just seeing how many times I can use the word 'different' in a sentence!) Thanks.
Oct 16,2012
All three covers seem to portray different themes. Like the first one seems quite dark and twisted, the second one seems more mysterious and the last cover, to me, seems to represent a kind of hopefulness. Maybe it's just me...
Oct 16,2012
I think that covers come with alot of new and interesting facts because it tells a little what the book is about.It draws all sorts of people to attention. And i think your right about how people judge alot of books by by their covers.
Oct 16,2012
I like the second cover the best because people like to have an idea of what the book is about before they even pick it up; as you were saying people judge books by covers whether we like it or not. Also it seems mysterious as you have not given the face away so later on people can make their own minds up about the character and also the yellow make the book seem inviting and bright so i will hopefully stand out on the shelves.
Oct 10,2012
Agreed - different covers definitely draw different readers. It's a fascinating process!
Oct 09,2012
anonymous's picture
I found that the original one was a lot more moody with all the dark colours. the one that was chosen really flashes out at you. I can picture you getting a completely different crowd of readers if you chose the original cover.
Oct 09,2012
anonymous's picture
I like the uk version!!!
Oct 09,2012
Yes, I was always interested in how covers came about and now even more so. I've heard stories from a few writers (mostly overseas) who didn't get much of a say - if any - into some of their covers. Which is fine if they loved them, but probably a tad frustrating if they didn't... Oh, and I forgot to mention I love the UK cover for Shadows too. So atmospheric. :)
Oct 08,2012
WOW. You're absolutely right that readers judge books by covers. Or titles. Or the synopsis. Or the author (if they've known them before... like I personally think anything written by Eoin Colfer is awesome ^^ ). Those covers are spectacular! I mean, I saw the other one on the other post, but still, I feel like it's more appreciated when you describe the 'journey' to get to it :) I didn't realise how much thought actually gets put into it...

Post new Comment

All comments are moderated and will not appear immediately. Please be patient - we're keen to know what you think and will get to your comment as fast as we can.