The Divining Wand

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Our Authors Take on Book Covers

February 11, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Although wisdom warns not to judge a book by its cover, both authors and readers would likely agree that a cover can make a favorable first impression. How much more of an impression, though?

To discover the truth our authors were asked, what book have you bought based on the lure of its cover? And then, many readers assume the author chooses a book’s cover and — while not exactly true — how much input have you had over your cover(s)?

The following novelists replied:

Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA):

“Interesting question. It’s so easy to find out more about books now that I think it’s very rare to purchase a book just based on the cover. I was drawn to a book called “Turtle Feet” (by Nikolai Grozni) by its cover, but I bought it because of the jacketflap copy. Books whose covers I love actually include a lot of my fellow Debutantes’ books–Mia King’s “Good Things” is one of my favorites, as is Eve Brown-Waite’s “First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria” and Tiffany Baker’s “Little Giant of Aberdeen County.”

”I didn’t have any input into my cover, except to see it and fall in love immediately.”

Eileen Cook (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA ):

“I know I’ve bought quite a few books based on the cover. Two that stick out, in part because they’re so different was Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

“With my YA publisher, Simon Pulse, I’ve been fortunate to be included in the cover art planning and designs. It is a huge stress reliever to know what to expect. When I saw the cover of Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood I wanted to kiss the designer Cara.”

Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool coming April 6, 2010):

“I can’t remember the last time I bought a book based on its cover. Usually I pick up books based on the authors. But I’m sure covers have more influence on me than I know–maybe bad covers (leading me to NOT pick up a book) more than good.

“I did not have a lot of input on my cover design, although my editor kept me in the loop along the way. She did ask me at the very beginning of the design process if there was anything in particular I really hated, which I thought was nice. (I said covers that were busy and flowery.) We had one cover that was lovely but was eventually killed because it was too “quiet”…then went to this image, but with entirely different type treatment. I really didn’t like it, but then they changed the type placement and design,which made a world of difference–and now I think it is fabulous.”

Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars):

“I don’t buy books based on their covers, but a cover can make me grab a book off the pile, or draw my eye when posted on a blog, for example. One of my favorite covers was for Joshua Ferris’s THEN WE CAME TO THE END which showed the title rendered in red Sharpie marker on yellow sticky notes. For an office novel, this was perfect. I also adored the cover for Tiffany Baker’s LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY.

“I loved my cover for Real Life & Liars unreservedly, the first time I saw it. And though I’m not totally in charge of my cover for The Life You’ve Imagined, I am, right now, in discussions with my publisher about various designs. They are taking my input very seriously, and for that I’m so grateful (and all the choices are gorgeous. I can’t wait to share it when I can!)”

Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy):

“Two books come to mind: Mr. Thundermug by Cornelius Medvei and Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier.

“I was asked for input on my cover—to provide ideas relating to themes, provide jpgs, anything I thought might help the cover artist. Looking back, about 95% of the pictures I provided related in some way to a woman in water. So when I saw the final cover, I was thrilled with it.”

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Announcement: The winner of Kristy Kiernan’s two novels — Catching Genius and Matters of Faith — is Keetha. Congratulations! Please email: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your books will be sent as quickly as possible. And, as always, thank you to all who commented.

Next week all the posts’ topics will be about love…of some type. Be sure to visit.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

4 Comments to “Our Authors Take on Book Covers”


  1. I can’t remember the last book I bought because of the cover – or at least picked up solely on the cover. But I think that has more to do with being a reader and writer so I take my reading fairly seriously (meaning, every book I buy is an intentional purchase). But some covers do stick in my mind. Remember Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld? No doubt that cover design helped some folks pick it up.

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  2. Just in the past week, I read another book whose cover I adore: “Lucia, Lucia” by Adriana Trigiani — I picked it up at the library in large part due to the cover: http://middlecountryreads.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/lucia-lucia.jpg

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  3. Oh, yay! I can’t wait to read them!

    I love book covers – love browsing them in book stores. It’s interesting what makes me pick up a book and what makes me pass on even reading the dust jacket.

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  4. I guess this makes me a visual person…..cover art will absolutely compel me to grab a book off the shelf.

    My favorites are:

    THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY – from the moment I saw this cover until months later when it ‘magically’ appeared in my mailbox, I wanted to read this book largely based on the beautiful cover art.

    ANNA KARENINA – when the new translation came out by Richard Pevear, and Larissa Volokhonsky, the lovely cover art made me want to read the book all over again.

    LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY – I haven’t read this book yet, but like the other commentors, the cover art makes me want to read it.

    MURDER ON THE ILE SAINT-LOUIS – this is part of a murder mystery series, all of the books have the same style of cover art, a photo of Paris and blue and white graphics. Not only did it immediately take me back to Paris, one of my favorite places, but the books have great ‘hand feel’ being just the right size larger than a mass paperback, smaller than a trade paperback, they make you just want to dive in.

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