Tonight, I feel like talking about covers. And I’m going to begin the discussion by telling you a short story.
Two months ago, when New Zealand Book Month was running, I decided to take advantage of some $5 book vouchers I had and buy myself some new books. It had been a while, and it felt wonderful to be scanning shelves looking for something to jump out at me. Yes, perhaps I should have scanned my Goodreads “To Read” list first, but, what can I say, I like living dangerously. Although, it has backfired in the past (granted, I am tempted to give that book one more chance, given my recent reading experience … I’ll explain further down).
Warning: I’m about to go fan-girl on you.
So, there I was scanning the shelves in the Fantasy section of a bookstore … Yeah, I was being lazy and couldn’t be bothered looking wider than that. And, I know there is a lot of crap Fantasy out there, but I still love the genre because my greatest reading experiences have been in that genre.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, I was scanning the shelves and a set of books jumped out at me:
Book one, being:
Why did it stand out? Because, on a shelf full of dark covers, white does. And then the second thing stood out to me. The author’s name.
Remember the backfire above? Yeah, well, that book had an endorsement from Brent Weeks. So, I very nearly dismissed him. Especially because, heck, just look at that cover. Doesn’t it just scream teenage boy’s dream? Yeah. Well, I’m not a teenage boy.
But, then I saw this:
And then I picked it up …
The blurb enticed me because I could see parallels with one of my own characters (now, having read it it’s a different scenario … but it might not have been).
I nearly didn’t take it … that endorsement …
But … I mean, look at that jaw-line. Just look at it. And that’s a pretty knife. But, I admit, it was the woman in me that was drawn to this. And, it didn’t disappoint.
Okay. So, yes, I read blurbs before I decide to buy/borrow a book. But, I don’t have the time to read every single blurb in a store or library, so what comes first (well, ideally a recommendation from a friend … but, I do also love to discover things for myself – which is when I get all fan-girl-ish)? The cover image, of course!
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover? Fair point. There are some average covers on some pretty fun reads out there. But we do.
It’s like beauty only being skin deep. But, there are billions of people out there. In the hunt for the perfect mate, you’re going to start by looking. And, barring disfiguring accidents and plastic surgery, our looks are generally a good indication of our genetic fitness … people study these things.
It’s probably why publishers have a go at releasing different edition with new cover art. If nothing else, it’ll gain a few extra sales to those who are avid collectors.
My point is that while writing the story is the number one priority for us writers, if we want people to consider reading it, we need a good cover. Now, I like to draw, but that doesn’t mean I’m all that good at it, and design is a whole other skill set. I will likely need to consider getting a designer to do a cover for me. And where will my first stop be? Kura Carpenter Design, of course (o:
Right, now to tie up some loose ends:
I loved “The Black Prism”. It was the most fun I’ve had while reading for a long time. I’ll admit (before someone says “I’m never reading anything you’ve written, ’cause you endorsed that book”) it wasn’t perfectly written. But, it was pretty darn good. And the colour-magic? Stunning mental imagery. If they ever make a movie, I hope they do it justice. Now I’m gutted because the next book in the series doesn’t come out till September, and Mr Weeks is still working on the one after that! Argh!
So, to tie myself over, I read “The Way of Shadows” … the cover was right. It is a great story for a teenage boy. The librarian who checked it out for me said she’d considered borrowing it for her son, but flicking through it she thought it was too grown up. Personally, I’d be happy to fling it my fifteen year old’s way (but, that’s thirteen and a half years away, yet). An awesome ninja-type assassin man who’s a virgin into his twenties? Wouldn’t mind letting kids know it’s okay to be too busy to get into that stuff (not that I’m a prude, I just wish it didn’t feel like a competition for who can get there first). I really enjoyed about the first third of the book. And then the characters got a bit bogged down with all the twists and turns and it all got a bit less fun. Still quite a good tale, and I now have the Omnibus winging its way to me, so I’ll be able to let you know how the trilogy goes …
And the backfire? “An unalloyed pleasure”? I didn’t think so. But, maybe I missed something in my reading of it … I’ll try again another day before I pass final judgement. Perhaps it just needed a slightly less awesomely worded endorsement. Perhaps, if the endorsement had been more like the stock standard “A fast-paced adventure of swashbuckling proportions” … Okay, I made that up. But, no one’s asking my opinion.
Go visit Kura! She makes pretty pictures.