Cover Up

A reader’s perspective on trying not to be shallow when choosing a book.

I don’t want to come off as being shallow (which just by saying this is making me shallow!) but I think as humans we really do judge each other on outward appearances. Against All OddsThe other day we had my Dad over for dinner and he proved himself to be quite the character. With the advancement of his Alzheimer’s the filter on his mouth seems to be working less and some of the things that he says are pretty outrageous at times. We started playing a dinner party game that has a wide variety of topics in the form of questions on cards. Each person draws a card, reads it to the group and then everyone proceeds to answer it. One of the first questions my Dad drew was: “Would you rather be 10% smarter or 10% better looking?” How would you answer that? My Dad chose being 10% better looking. Demon in the Machine by [MacTague, Lise]When asked why he would go that direction he said that those who are attractive get more attention and people are drawn to them socially. Is that true? Do we gravitate toward people who are pleasing to look at regardless of the intellectual connection?

 

I will admit that I’m not socially educated enough to be able to comment on this concept, but what I would like to do is put this in the context of LesFic. Let’s look at book Compass Rose by [Burke, Anna]covers in comparison to what is inside. How important is the cover in representing the book and does the cover relate to an intellectual connection that might be discovered within the pages? Danielle Zion made an excellent comment to me at one point and I’m going to try to capture her words (hopefully she will correct me if I’m drastically wrong), “I never bought a book because of a cover but I know I have chosen NOT to buy a book because of it’s cover.” In my opinion, which is not worth that much, readers connect to the appearance of the book the same way they connect to the characters within. If the cover is attractive and connects with them on some cosmetic level the reader may be more likely to read the blurb which would lead to the intellectual connection which ultimately could lead to the purchase of the book. Would that mean that if book covers were 10% better looking people would be more likely to buy them? According to my Dad’s way of thinking- yes!

 

The Goodmans by [Ashton, Clare]I actually really love that the GCLS offers awards for best covers now and I’m adding some of those cover pictures throughout this blog. In this time frame where our niche market has more reading options than ever, I do believe that covers are becoming an integral part of defining authors as well as the status of our stories. Way, way back when there was one primary publishing house that released 1-2 books a month, it wouldn’t really matter what the cover looked like as long as it contained a story about lesbians that was positive and affirming. Now though, I do believe covers can be the pivotal point of a book sale. I mean I’m writing this blog topic because just today, I saw a cover that was so repulsive to me that I was actually a little mad. Needless to say, I didn’t buy the book, but in a way the author made an impression on me. It was definitely playing to the sexy look but over When the Stars Sang by [Werlinger, Caren J.]shot that by a million and landed in insulting. How judgmental and close minded can I be though right? But with the cover I felt like I was already being led down a certain path without even having cracked the book open. I was given a very specific picture of what the characters were supposed to look like and by their poses, what these two women would ultimately be doing (poorly with the positioning they had!). Is that too judgmental? Probably, and I’m sorry for this thought process but in a way I want to be intrigued by the cover enough to look at that blurb.

 

What about all you amazing LesFic readers out there, what are your thoughts about covers? Do you judge a book by it’s cover? Have you ever been proven wrong? I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

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11 comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more. The cover should suggest what is inside with clean readable text, and intrigue not hit you over the head with a two-by-four. Often the effort is to get too much information into the cover. Thanks for writing about one of my pet peeves.

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    • Thanks for reading Franci! And I really like the new cover of “Staying the Distance” a story I’ve very much enjoyed. I’ve always had a thing for stories with horses!! But you are right that a lot of covers really try to put too much into them where simple well and truly could be better.

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      • WHAT A TREAT TO HAVE THIS FEEDBACK

        What a treat to have this feedback, Erin. This was a cover where I took control of the design because the designer wasn’t coming up with my vision. They were perfectly good covers, but didn’t have just what I was looking for. I found a stock photo, but there was this great dog in it that looked just like my dog, so i had to do a revision with this dog in it. Fun, actually. My heroine is Ann McMann.

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  2. I have to say, slutty covers turn me off. And my definition of slutty is probably different from other people’s. And yes, I’ve been proven wrong. I don’t mind slutty covers on slutty books, but I really mind slutty covers on romances, etc. I don’t want to see too much cleavage or too many butts or hands where they don’t belong in public. I will admit to being a bit of a prude. I do read a little erotica, but that’s erotica. If it’s not erotica, the covers shouldn’t be erotic, if that makes sense.

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    • MargaretB I am right there with you! Call me a prude if you want to, but it is kind of a joke between my wife and I when I see these overly sexed up covers and we try to guess the profession of the characters that are being portrayed. Thanks for reading!

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  3. One of the things I’ve noticed in lesfic/WLW fiction, is that many readers seem to buy a book, regardless of the cover if it’s from one of our biggest names and/or publishers. There are some wonderful covers out there and some truly awful ones and they’re not all indie, not by a longshot.

    Covers in WLW fiction are getting better, but they have a little way yet to go. With so much new fiction out there each month driving the market, it’s getting there.

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    • Anne thanks so much for reading! And I agree, as I am one of them, that name recognition plays a big role in purchases regardless of the cover. Though I have to admit that I’ve left some favorite authors in my TBR pile longer just because the cover wasn’t that attractive and didn’t call to me when I was choosing my next book. I love that our genre is being more cognizant of the cover art and creating more professional designs and I actually think that is due to the indie push more so than the publishing companies. The indies, seemed to need an extra catch for readers and for that the publishing companies played catch up.

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  4. Way back in the day, before ebooks were a thing, a book’s cover art still played a role in my decision to read it or not. Especially if it was an unknown author. If it was a favourite author, I’d read the book regardless, but I remember going through the shelves at the library looking for something new.

    Even the colour of the book played a role. I’d pull the book out, look at the cover and then read the synopsis to see if it was interesting.

    But since ebooks became more popular and readily available, the cover art was less important to me. If you were to ask me now what is on some of my favourite ebook’s, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But I literally walk around with my own little library on my phone.

    If I’m having coffee by myself at a coffee shop, I’ll open a book on my phone and read. If I’m waiting in line for a while, same thing. Long flight, no problem! Just don’t ask me what’s on the cover, rather ask me what it’s about.

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    • Vennic I agree on losing the cover once the e-book is open as you never have to close the book and visually see it. I do make a point of setting my finished book back to the cover when I am done. At the same time, one could almost argue that the cover is even more important because that is all that is seen on the TBR list though. I do admit to having a very old e-reader so it may change now, but a lot of times I am choosing the next read because of the cover design and how interesting it looks because I’m not able to flip it over and read the blurb (or maybe haven’t figured out how to do that yet!). Thanks so much for reading and sharing! I am like you in always having a book accessible for any wait time. Have you tried audio books? That is my current go-to for waiting rooms!

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