Friday Cover Discussion

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?

26 thoughts on “Friday Cover Discussion

  1. You made some great points about these covers, Craig. We often say that you can’t judge a book by its cover and yet we all do it. The cover and book blurb are the two most important aspects of marketing. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love covers and enjoy looking at them. In fact as I type this comment, I’m sitting in a bookstore cafe looking across the table to the racks of magazines. From where I’m sitting right now I can see several. Nat Geo is always a classic act, and Night Sky and Milky Way are screaming for me to go explore them because they’re so vivid and gorgeous. I think all of the covers you picked out are great. My two favorite are the retriever cover and elephant cover. I know the elephant partially covers the magazine name but the image is so striking I’d pick it up to see what it was about.

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    • There were hundreds to pick from, so I grabbed the ones that immediately caught my eye. The elephant graphic is wonderful. You can even see his age by how bony he is. It’s almost like the old advertising trick about misspelling something on purpose to make people look the way they covered the title.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bread and dogs… two things that easily draw me in. Loved those covers. The Sporting Classics cover was an epic fail for me. I spent so much time wondering what the title was that I ignored the pic and the text. I guess subscribers know the magazine, but not everyone is a subscriber.

    Great point about designing for thumbnail size, though.

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  4. That last cover was strange, but memorable. I would say it was designed for those who already know what magazine it is, which is why the title was partially covered. Anyone else would be drawn to the photo and hopefully read the spine. Kind of a gamble there.

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  5. I reckon the Sporting Classics know more about elephants than covers, lol … covering up the title!?!? We can definitely learn from mags … it’s all covers trying to sell. I used a black background to good effect on my 2nd book The Glade. It added to the scary. Thanks for an entertaining post, Craig 😊


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