Friday, July 22, 2011

The Well Dressed Novel

Okay, so you’ve written a book and you are as proud as a new parent with your bundle of joy. You probably want to introduce it to your family, friends, and anyone else who will stop and have a peek. The first question you are likely to hear is: “What genre is it?” If you are lucky enough to have creatively birthed a book that fits neatly into one (and only one) genre, you can say, “It’s a (insert genre here).” If not, you will likely find yourself saying something like, “Well, it’s sort of a sci-fi meets horror thing,” which makes your book sound a bit like an evil alien baby. Appealing to a few, but not necessarily in the running for most beautiful.

How do you give your book an identity that will draw admirers to it? Even in this digital age where more and more readers won’t ever hold an actual book with your name on it, the cover art is still the best way to draw your audience in. No matter how charming your baby is, if you send it out into the world in a brown paper sack no one is likely to fawn over it. Similarly, clip-art covers cut-and-pasted together are likely to be shunned by all but the most forgiving reader. Now, if that forgiving reader happens to be a well-respected book reviewer, the cover art could become a non-issue. However, your baby book will need to have an exceptional amount of luck to be plucked from obscurity by such a reviewer.

So here is the lesson, dear writers: invest in cover art. Yes, it will cost you some money, but a good book-cover designer is an artist. Being a good writer does not automatically make you a good artist – nor does it make you a good judge of art. In other words, don’t trust your own judgment. Look at some book designers’ websites, find a few that you like, and ask your friends’ opinions. Set aside a decent amount of money and pay for your designer of choice to do your cover art. In the long run, your novel will thank you for it. More people will pick it up and give it a chance to charm them.

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