Hi, gang. Craig here again and my assignment is covers this week. Sometimes the assignment challenges me, not the least of which is because I know a lot of authors. I know a few artists too. I always feel like someone could be offended if I don’t choose them.
To remedy this problem, I went down to my handy Barnes & Noble. I decided to let my eye wander and see what I found. This isn’t an unrealistic way of figuring out what works, because that’s how most of our readers find books.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t tables piled with the latest Kardashian book, or the most popular bestseller that drew my attention. It was the magazine rack. Maybe old eyes liked the idea of more real estate to display the message, but that’s what happened. Let’s see if we can assess some of the covers I saw.
I grabbed these three and put them together for a quick photo. (Then I put them back in the proper place.) One of the first things that struck me was how fast I could determine what the product is about. This may be the title, or the graphic, but it could be the combination.
I notice Guitarist and Quick Bread relied upon a black background. It really helps to bring focus on the important elements. Maybe for a novelist, a cowboy or a monster, would look good on a black background.
Guitarist gets extra credit for using the S curve too. In fact they are in stark contrast against that black.
For these two publications, I noticed they weren’t shy about adding headlines for their articles. This could be worth considering when coming up with cover art too. There may come a day when you want to add a badge or something to your cover. Perhaps the book won some prize and you want to update the cover. If you leave room for it… “Winner of the Craig Boyack award for super coolness.”
Retriever Journal conveys its message differently. We mentioned eyes in a previous post about covers. People are drawn to eyes and will usually pause to look at them. Add the face of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever and more than a few people will check it out.
These publications are doing something right. One has vibrant color on a sea of black, one gives me a homey, warm-bread feeling, and the other one gives me a sense of an old friend. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a dog.
I found one that confused me too, so let’s talk about it.
My initial thought was, what does an elephant have to do with sporting clays? Sporting clays is a sport where people shoot clay targets. I had to look several times to figure out that it’s Sporting Classics.
Points for the elephant. It screams adventure, and it’s interesting art. The image draws the eye, and there is an eyeball in there too. and it’s right at the intersection under the rule of thirds. I’ll even spot them an S curve. Hiding the title wasn’t the best choice.
We need our covers to convey what the book is about. This can be in the graphic, the title, or both. When we reduce our covers to thumbnail size on Amazon, we’d be better off trying to do both. I would check out that elephant, but I might not spend the time to figure out the title. There will be competing novels on my search page, and I might wind up trying one of those first.
What do you folks think? Can we learn anything from how the magazine folks go about their covers?