Thursday, September 17, 2009

The First Impression

I'm sure everyone has been told that first impressions are the most important. Studies show that Primacy facts, that means the things we learn or see first, are the ones that stay with us the longest, and are the hardest to change. This emphasizes just how important Cover Art is to a book. And how something as simple as an image can make or break your sales.

I'm sure we've all seen some great book covers, whether they're electronic or on paper. And I'm sure we've all seen some equally bad ones. Now I wonder how many of us actually took the time to read the blurb and/or the excerpt of a book whose cover was a complete turn off? Did you overlook the unpleasing or bland skin to see if there was a diamond underneath or simply cast the story aside for reasons you might not even have realized.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I've been guilty of this act on a few occasions. That when flipping through images to pick out a new book, I immediately dismissed the ones whose cover didn't draw me in. Heck, I didn't even go so far as to read the title!

So what does this mean to authors and publishers. Well, in this age of e-everything it means art that not only sells but stops readers in their tracks and says... hey, you have to look inside! It means graphic artists have to find new and intriguing ways to do the same thing, only better.... and different... and exciting... and.... well the list is endless. But when the first impression is riding on what might be only a glance, the stakes are high. And bad first impressions can be fatal.

So what makes a good cover? Pretty sexy people (certainly doesn't hurt)? Lots of color with bold titles?

I love a cover that conveys the main feeling of the book. If it's a thriller I want to see danger on the cover... darkness, eerie locations, eyes staring back at me. If it's a comedy, something more light and fun... maybe a sunset and some sexy lovers kissing in the distance. As long as it doesn't promise me something the book can't deliver. I don't want to see horses on the front with sexy cowboys only to discover the story's about life on a space station. It's like going to a movie and discovering the only parts worth watching were the thirty seconds revealed on the trailer.

But it has got me wondering what it'd be like if every book cover was just a brown envelope. If we had to jump inside to discover whether the story was worth our time. If the book, itself, was the only driving force enticing you to buy it. Where would we be without our first impression?

So what do you like in a cover? What's the most important aspect? Do you have a preference as to whether there's a guy or a gal on the front or do you want both? I'd love to know what makes a great first impression to you.

Kris Norris
Romancing adventure at a time.


Genella deGrey said...

Another GREAT post, Kris!!

Confession: If the cover is really really bad, I like to peek at the premise to see if it's equally sucky. LOL

I've not seen an ebook with a horrible cover yet - I'm glad epublishers are paying more attention to that important detail.

That being said, a historical needs to look like a historical, not a contemp. Supernatural? Give me magic on the cover. Mystery or Paranormal? Dark says it all. Erotic romance? I'm sure you get my drift by now. ;)

If romantic fiction came in brown paper covers, the titles would have to be phenomenally descriptive. Even with a great cover, a book should never have a generic title. That would be like a fast-food restaurant's advertisement: Eat our burgers. There're good.
Pretty flat, huh?

Kris Norris said...

Hey Genella

Thanks for the comments. I agree. Covers sell and they should match the genre and theme of the story. No one wants a vamp book with a cowboy on the front, unless he's the vamp, lol.
I do wonder what it'd be like to have blank covers, though. Imagine how we could incoporate other senses. Maybe tactile covers, or scented ones... oh that could get dangerous. Neat to consider though.

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