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Old 05-23-2011, 04:17 PM   #31
DrDln
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Originally Posted by bashfulbanshee View Post
It's both.

Covers are like packaging. Would you buy juice if its packaged like laundry detergent? If might be the best juice in the world, but if it looks a little too much like "liquid Tide", do you think many people are going to try that sample, even if there's a person in the grocery handing free cups of it?
I *might* try it if a friend tells me "Hey. That isn't laundry detergent, just close your eyes and drink it." Then I'll drink it because I trust my friend. But if there isn't strong word of mouth going around, then bad packaging will definitely hurt.
....
Good post and good analogy. But title of the book can tell what is inside the package, especially in nonfiction books.

I pickup the book by reading the title and sometimes pay no attention what else is on the cover. I don't know if it applies now, but another thing I look is at publisher who was attracted to publish that book. Good publishers have good editorial staff and normally publish what they think is good.
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Old 05-24-2011, 06:51 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by DrDln View Post
Good post and good analogy. But title of the book can tell what is inside the package, especially in nonfiction books.

I pickup the book by reading the title and sometimes pay no attention what else is on the cover. I don't know if it applies now, but another thing I look is at publisher who was attracted to publish that book. Good publishers have good editorial staff and normally publish what they think is good.
Well. The package that looks like laundry detergent could say "Delicious Orange Juice" upon closer investigation, but I might have left before I could read further because I thought I was in the wrong aisle.

Regarding the second point, looking at the publisher doesn't help much with indie and small press titles. Small presses could be credible in a certain niche, but a good chunk of the audience that the book may reach wouldn't know the history nor would do the research, hence the publisher info is uninformative to the audience. Best to make the cover as informative and attractive as possible.
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Old 05-25-2011, 04:12 PM   #33
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For me, (admittedly a small market,) I usually know which aisle of the store I've stumbled into. Besides, we're not talking essential taters and beans here, nor even soothing elevator music, but hopefully art that expands humanity a bit. With literature, words are the art, and pictures shouldn't get in the way of the words. The title is the draw that leads me to the back cover or e-book blurb. My own cover concerns aren't with the front, but the back. Seems I wrote a blurb from the perspective of what I see in my own book, which is kind of hard not to do. Anyway, yes I believe covers are a hugely important first impression on a stranger who has better things to do than decipher whether you're worth their time. I just think pictures are distracting. Just my two cents, I'd likely sell out to a different philosophy tommorrow if someone showed me three cents.

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Old 05-25-2011, 04:26 PM   #34
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Sorry JSWolf no one had expressed a problem with how I had posted before to the forum so I didn't know anyone had a problem with it.
We did get into the issue of top posting in another thread and overall, it's not a good idea to top post.The reason being is that to read what you've quoted, we have to move our eyes past what you typed, read the quote and then move our eyes back to the top of the message to read what you wrote. It's just that much easier to start at the top and read down instead of jumping around.
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:21 PM   #35
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For me, it breaks down like this
- Familiar author - Cover needs to be distinctly different but it helps if it is stylisticly similar to covers of other books. This lets me quickly pick it out from a display.
- Unfamiliar author - Cover needs to be indicative of genre to persuade me that it is worth picking up to check the blurbs.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that there are somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 books in the house and I remember most of them by the cover. That is, when I see the cover, I recall a precis of the story. This leads to my occasionally buying duplicates of books when they are released with a new cover (especially books by a familiar author that did not make a memorable enough impression to cause me to remember the title). The other is that, despite being a voracious reader, there are too many books and too little time. Thus the clues to genre in the cover are the first filter to be applied to anything by an unfamiliar author.

If there is no picture, the filter will be applied to the layout and font choices. However, the lack of an image means that the book will only be considered on a second pass. The second pass will only happen if I have not blown my budget on my first pass and if I have time to spare to make a second pass.

Word of mouth can get me to look at something that I would otherwise pass over, but that is hard to arrange.
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Old 05-25-2011, 06:04 PM   #36
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I generally browse for books by looking at covers first, so for me a cover sells the book, and so is more important than the content for a first-time reader. However, if the content isn't good I probably won't read that author again so I think that you need a great cover and great content.

I would say though that covers are very individual, and what one person likes another might not. For example I have seen people praising a cover that looks like something a 5 year old has put together, word art and everything, with the authors name being the biggest and most visible thing on it.
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:49 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
We did get into the issue of top posting in another thread and overall, it's not a good idea to top post.The reason being is that to read what you've quoted, we have to move our eyes past what you typed, read the quote and then move our eyes back to the top of the message to read what you wrote. It's just that much easier to start at the top and read down instead of jumping around.
Well I won't debate it with you. I don't recall the thread is all I was saying, but I don't want to hijack someone's thread to discuss it either.
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:57 PM   #38
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If packaging didn't matter then advertising agents wouldn't spend millions of dollars to play with our minds. :P

I'll admit that for me personally, the cover attracts my attention (or doesn't) and then I check to see if I recognize the author's name. From there it's up to the blurb or reviews to sell me on something I've never heard of before.
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Old 05-26-2011, 12:27 AM   #39
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I'm not the type of person who's going to stand around in bookstores, reading first chapters of books. I look at the covers and at the inside cover and back cover blurbs, and make my decision. So for me the covers are very important, because that's the lure that makes me pick up the book in the first place. Content is what is going to make me read the book, but a cover that both informs and intrigues me is what is going to make me pick it up in the first place.

If it's a book by an author that I've read and liked before, both the cover and the title has to be sufficiently different from the previous one to catch my eye. While it's catchy to have a series in which all the titles begin with the same word, if the series extends beyond the first 3-book contract things start to get confusing. For example, J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood is a guilty pleasure of mine, but here are the titles: Dark Lover, Lover Eternal, Lover Awakened, Lover Revealed, Lover Unbound, Lover Enshrined, Lover Avenged, Lover Mine, Lover Unleashed I think that I'm a couple books behind in the series, but I'm not sure. The covers are all similar-looking: same font, same layout, and a good-looking guy in shadows. The blurbs usually mention multiple characters that are mentioned in the other book blurbs due to the ongoing story arc, so that's not always a help. So even if I see her books in the bookstore now, I don't remember if I've read that book or not, so I don't buy it because I need to check my book list at home first.

As much as I got bored with the series by the letter "M", Sue Grafton has a very easy mnemonic with her use of the alphabet in her titles (e.g. "A is for Alibi", etc.). "M" came out in 1996 and I read it then, yet I still remember right where I left off in that series.

If I see a romantic suspense novel that has that ubiquitous shadowed male/female couple obviously running for their lives, I immediately think that the publisher didn't care enough about the book because they only gave it an overused generic cover.

There are things that are obvious turn-offs to me, which would prevent me from picking up the book in the first place. I bought a book from Amazon by Deborah H. Harkness called "The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution". I ordered the book because I had read her first foray into fiction and liked it, and thought that this book sounded interesting from its review. But - the cover photo is an illustration from the 16th century entitled "Insect Study". If I had seen that illustration full-size in a bookstore, instead of just a thumbnail image on Amazon, I might have passed over the book just because I dislike bugs.
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:53 AM   #40
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Given the forum, I guess I was thinking more about marketing online, with dinky thumbnail covers. The font style of the title can set the tone or genre, and at least for literary fiction, a few words can paint a thousand pictures. I acknowledge I'm in the minority here, though as a survey I'm not sure writers make typical readers.
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Old 05-26-2011, 05:23 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by chrisanthropic View Post
I'll admit that for me personally, the cover attracts my attention (or doesn't) and then I check to see if I recognize the author's name. From there it's up to the blurb or reviews to sell me on something I've never heard of before.
I agree. For years I avoided reading any of David Weber's books because I found the covers offputting. I finally tried a couple because they were free in the Baen library (and the combination of free + curiosity overwhelmed my dislike of the cover art) only to discover that I really liked Weber's writing style and was missing one of the best series in scifi (the Honor Harrington series) because I found the covers offputting. Now I buy every novel Weber publishes.

Anyway, the point is that the cover is the initial impression a reader gets and a poorly executed cover can be a real turnoff.
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Old 05-26-2011, 05:42 AM   #42
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but another thing I look is at publisher who was attracted to publish that book. Good publishers have good editorial staff and normally publish what they think is good.


Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov - turned down by publishers Viking, Simon & Schuster, New Directions, Farrar, Straus, and Doubleday. One of last centurys most important books.

The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck, turned down by publisher Knopf, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1932. The best selling novel in the United States in both 1931 and 1932,[1] it was an influential factor in Buck winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.

Animal Farm, George Orwell, turned down by four (4!) publishers. Time magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005);[4] it also places at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels. It won a Retrospective Hugo Award in 1996 and is also included in the Great Books of the Western World. One of the rejections came from T.S. Eliot. "We have no conviction that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the current time,” wrote Eliot, adding that he thought its “view, which I take to be generally Trotskyite, is not convincing”.

Eliot wrote: “After all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm – in fact there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue) was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.”

The War Of The Worlds, H.G. Wells, one publisher's rejection letter described the book as "An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would 'take'...I think the verdict would be 'Oh, don't read that horrid book.'"

Stephen King received dozens of rejections for his first novel, Carrie; he kept them tidily nailed to a spike under a timber in his bedroom. One of the publishers sent Mr. King's rejection with these words: "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell."

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers, including biggies like Penguin and HarperCollins. Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it on at the behest of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter, who begged her father to print the book.

Lord Of The Flies, Diary Of Anne Frank, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Gone With The Wind, all turned down by publishers.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:58 AM   #43
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If I don't recognise yoru name as an author I've read before or been recommended by friends the chances are pretty small that I'll ever look at your ebooks, there are just too many out there. So name recognition is the big winner for me.

After that I'd brouse a website /ebookstore front. Covers might help. Titles might help! - surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet - extracts definetly win the day. Well formatted, error free, gripping prose. Sensible price and as an epub, and I'll buy on spec
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Old 05-26-2011, 01:28 PM   #44
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I agree. For years I avoided reading any of David Weber's books because I found the covers offputting. I finally tried a couple because they were free in the Baen library...
I had a similar experience with Terry Pratchett. The first time I considered picking up one of his books, I changed my mind when I saw the awful covers by Josh Kirby - the people looked like scarecrow-shaped bags of skin stuffed with lumpy junk. I took repeated recommendations and reading articles about the series AND looking at an 8-hour car trip to convince me otherwise, and now I have nearly the whole Discworld series on my shelf.
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Old 05-26-2011, 02:11 PM   #45
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Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov - turned down by publishers Viking, Simon & Schuster, New Directions, Farrar, Straus, and Doubleday. One of last centurys most important books.

The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck, turned down by publisher Knopf, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1932. The best selling novel in the United States in both 1931 and 1932,[1] it was an influential factor in Buck winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.

Animal Farm, George Orwell, turned down by four (4!) publishers. Time magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005);[4] it also places at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels. It won a Retrospective Hugo Award in 1996 and is also included in the Great Books of the Western World. One of the rejections came from T.S. Eliot. "We have no conviction that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the current time,” wrote Eliot, adding that he thought its “view, which I take to be generally Trotskyite, is not convincing”.

Eliot wrote: “After all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm – in fact there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue) was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.”

The War Of The Worlds, H.G. Wells, one publisher's rejection letter described the book as "An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would 'take'...I think the verdict would be 'Oh, don't read that horrid book.'"

Stephen King received dozens of rejections for his first novel, Carrie; he kept them tidily nailed to a spike under a timber in his bedroom. One of the publishers sent Mr. King's rejection with these words: "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell."

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers, including biggies like Penguin and HarperCollins. Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it on at the behest of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter, who begged her father to print the book.

Lord Of The Flies, Diary Of Anne Frank, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Gone With The Wind, all turned down by publishers.
Don't forget Dr. Seuss. His first book was turned down by some 27 publishers before it found a home. "And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street" turned out to be just the first of a large number of books that have inspired generations of children to start reading.
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