Everyone knows the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately, it’s easier to say than it is to abide by. I definitely judge books by their covers and their titles. I don’t have to time to read the synopsis for every book I see. This is why it’s important for books to have good covers; it can make a book or break it.

Before I start, I’d like to point out that I know many books have different covers. I reference a few titles here, so I’ve included the cover next to the title.

Most covers I see are completely decked out, and that’s not a bad thing, but sometimes it can get a little overwhelming. I’ve found I’m drawn to not just simple covers, but blank covers, or almost blank covers. Granted this isn’t something readers are exposed to a lot, it tends to happen more on A.R.C.s (Advanced Reader’s Copies for those of you that don’t know) because they haven’t figured out a cover yet.

On the other side of the spectrum, it’s nice to have multiple focuses…as long as it’s not bombarding your eyes. Having silhouettes of things in the sky can be done amazingly and really add something to the cover. I think its best achieved when the cover is shiny and feels almost like a holograph and is more of an understated cover. I think a great example of this is Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.  Another note on multiple focuses is that it doesn’t mean a ton of stuff crammed on a page. It can also mean very detailed illustrations that require more than a glance to really absorb. For example, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman is an artistic masterpiece, but relatively simple in design.

Sometimes covers are just beautiful. And a lot of the time, when everyone thinks it’s gorgeous, it has usually been taken from nature: sunsets, stars, moons, etc. One cover I think is fabulous that embodies this idea is For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund.

Also, some covers just fit the book very well. On the cover of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, I think they did a great job. It’s so perfect for this book.

In series, it’s nice to have covers that are related in some way, just so they can be put together in a glance. One of my favorite examples of this is The Seven Realms by Cinda Williams Chima (consisting of The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Gray Wolf Throne, and soon to be joining the series in October, The Crimson Crown). They’re all different colors, but they bear the same structure: smoke-filled landscape in the background, a glowing/smoking object center stage, title to the right, series name/book number above, author to the left, the same corner piece on each corner of each book. It sounds complicated, but really it’s not. They’re all different, yet they’re each connected.

On to the negative side.

I really hate it when you see a cover, then you read the book and the cover has it completely wrong, especially if the author made a big deal about it in the story. It really bugs me, and even if I really liked the cover when I first say every time I look at it after I’ve read the book I remember that it’s wrong and it mars the cover’s beauty. Now, I don’t think the designers should have to read the book, because that would be a lot of reading for them, but at least let the author tell you if everything corresponds with the book or if there’s something really off. That’s just my opinion though.

Another thing, I have seen so many books with faces on them. Faces are tricky, they can look good and make a really good cover, but they can just as easily ruin a book cover. I think Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson has a really good cover with a face on it. It absolutely embodies the story. Then there are the covers where the face stretches across the spine. I find it very weird seeing a part of a face in the middle of your book shelf. And also, when two of these books are put together and they make a strange face it’s really creepy. Not only is it creepy, it’s boring! Some book covers are just close-ups of someone’s face, and sometimes they’ve been tinted a color. It’s not as pretty or hooking as other covers. And then there are the covers that have a person morphing into something else, an animal or something. For me, that’s a total turn off. It just looks weird. I don’t like it. Too creepy.

Covers are important to a book’s success. Good covers can really sell a book and bad covers can make a book sit on the shelf forever. This is my take on covers. What’s yours?

~Mackinsey

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