Cover Story

 I recently listened to a Barnes & Noble One on One Author interview with Chip Kidd who is the associate art director at Knopf an imprint of Random House.  In the first half of the interview he talks about a book he has written and later on he talks about cover design and advertising.

 I had never heard of Chip Kidd before this interview.  When seeking out author interviews I have to admit I was at first curious because he shares my surname.  Upon finding out he is a well-respected cover designer my interest was piqued further.

 Always having had an interest in art and design, I particularly appreciate a fine cover when I see one.  The whole marketing process fascinates me and cover design is an integral part of that. 

 The obvious question was asked during the interview ‘does cover design sell a book?’  This is a question I was asking myself not so long ago as I published my first Ebook The Eight of Swords.  The temptation was to launch into designing the cover myself.  I am more than happy to browse photo libraries for hours to find the right image for my blog so why would it be any different for my book cover?  As luck would have it a designer offered to do it for me.  In fact he relished the opportunity and I was delighted by his enthusiasm.  If I had done it myself I might well have spent a long time agonising over images and working out how to create the finished product in a professional looking manner.  In truth, I doubt I would have had any more satisfaction doing it myself than letting him do it for me.  Also the time I spent trying to do it could be spent writing!

 The finished cover design for my Ebook was far different to anything I imagined and far exceeded my expectations. It perfectly fits with the story – dramatic and mysterious.  Also it looks great as a thumbnail image, which can be quite a challenge.

 Back to the question ‘does cover design sell a book?’  Well Chip’s answer pretty much came as I expected, in the negative.  He believed as I do, it’s the subject matter, the blurb on the back and the reviews that sell the book.  I only believe this based on how I buy books.  I do like to see a stylish cover in ‘come and get me’ colours with an intriguing image and cool font design but when browsing a bookshelf or Amazon it’s the author credentials and story that sell me the book.  I will check out the reviews and if they are well above average on the low stars I may well pass it by but I don’t take too much stock of them because hey, everyone is an individual and even more so when it comes to being attracted by reading material. 

 Having said all that, a poorly designed cover can be a real turn off.  Psychologically we want to be attracted and feel that we are valued enough for someone to make an effort to draw us in.  I know that if one of my favourite authors published a book with a tacky cover I would be disappointed and to be perfectly honest really quite shocked.  However, being one of my favoured authors, if I liked the sound of the story I would disregard the cover.

In truth when I am browsing for books and see an author I don’t know with a cover design that looks pretty atrocious it is very off putting to say the least.  If they didn’t make the effort with the cover design, how much effort did they put into the story?  It’s superficial but it is hard not to make assumptions.  Us humans usually judge first on appearance whether it is right or wrong. 

 As with my business, I am a great believer in display and making an effort for the customer.  After all without the customer there would be no business and it’s the same with readers, I want them to feel they are getting something great on the outside and within, a totally finished product.

 The Eight of Swords is available to buy to download at Amazon and Smashwords.

 Check out Chip Kidd’s podcast at Barnes & Noble here.

 http://media.barnesandnoble.com/?fr_story=6ca2b600632093d8f9cf1dc8a6852a70aeb4d98b&rf=sitemap

 And his cover designs here:

http://bookcoverarchive.com/Chip_Kidd

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Petra Kidd

Norfolk UK is my home, I live in Norwich by the River Wensum where everyday there is something different to see and learn. I feel a big affinity with the river as I grew up in Cambridge, another great river city. My childhood and teens involved many walks along the Cam where we would watch 'The Bumps,' raft races and as we grew older we enjoyed adventures on our punting pub crawls. Growing up in a multi cultural university city definitely influenced my reading choices, I am a big fan of Japanese fiction, love French literature and enjoy Shakespeare. As a young teen I entertained myself with Jilly Cooper and Dick Francis and then became quite obsessed with Henri Charriere's Papillon. At school all I cared about was English, Art and French, in that exact order. When I finished with school I went to live and work in Greece for a wonderful year before returning to study English Literature and Sociology. At this point I read more classics like the Wyf of Bath, Wuthering Heights and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man plus poets such as Wilfred Owen. My first UK full time job was with Heffer's Paperbacks where I devoured several books at a time, excited by the fact I could borrow what I liked. Bizarrely for me I remember reading The Zurich Axioms, I have no interest in the stock markets but it had me gripped. I can't remember why I picked it up but I have never forgotten it. Heffers introduced me to so many authors, via their books and sometimes in person. It was here I learned about all the genres, it fascinated me that science fiction and horror were so popular, I tried reading it all. Aside from writing letters, it didn't really ever occur to me to write anything myself for many years as I worked my way through a variety of interesting and varied jobs. Then on a visit to the London Aquarium I became struck by an idea so powerful I sat down and wrote my first novel. It went nowhere as really I wrote it because I wanted to. I wrote another novel and again, didn't have the persistance or determination to take it further, I simply enjoyed the process of writing and my characters. Then years later another idea struck me and during a severe bout of Pleurisy where I couldn't do anything physical for months, I wrote the Eight of Swords and The Putsi. This time I published them as ebooks and they became pretty popular. When I fully recovered, I had to concentrate on my business and looking after my mother who has various health issues and the writing went adrift again for many years until 2020 when the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world. March 2020 I moved to my apartment alongside the Wensum to live alone for the first time ever. During the first lockdown I began to write a diary and then the idea for a new set of short stories came to me and in February 2021 they will be published. The Covid-19 Pandemic is not simply a scary virus, it is a historical time and here we are trying to live through it. To many it will feel like a punishment but to me as a writer, in some ways, it came as a gift. Please stay as safe and as well as you can. I hope to entertain you with my stories as we all try to get through this together, even though we are apart. Petra

6 thoughts on “Cover Story”

  1. It’s always the cover the attracts my attention first although I agree it is the blurb/reviews that actually make me decide yes or no.! I love the cover on your e-book. It’s really eye-catching and makes you want to find out more!

  2. Sadly, there are lots of poorly designed covers out there. It just looks sloppy and I feel embarrassed for the author. I generally skip a book entirely if the cover is bad. Even if I’ve not heard of the book, if it has a great cover, I’ll take a look at it.

  3. I’ve begun to design my own covers for my books and am now working on book covers for others as well. I’m a digital artist and use my photos as a base. If interested in seeing samples let me know. PM me.

    Where eagles fly,
    Don (Greywolf)
    Native American Storyteller and Short Story Editor

  4. Very well put. In my line of work (I’m a publicist representing authors) most of my efforts include 2 key features aside from my verbal or written pitch: an author photo and a book cover. Visual is HUGE in this industry and while a gorgeous author photo or a compelling book cover may not actually sell the book, they sure can grab attention and give some of the other information time to do the selling. In a world of stores overstocked with books, it’s that cover that can help make the choice of which book to pick up and consider buying.

    A lot of journalists and media personalities I contact hoping to secure interviews or reviews for my clients prefer the first contact to be by email or fax so their first impression of my clients is via these pages, not my voice. If they like what they see, then they’ll talk to me. I know a lot of authors don’t have any say in their cover art design, but if you do, be sure you take the time to make it right. And please, PLEASE, invest in a good author photo. Those first impressions can often be the only chance you get to make an impression.

    PJ

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