I once attend a Crime & Mystery Festival held by our local library. One of the breakout sessions was on book covers. I confess to have purchased a number of books based solely on the cover. Some were good while even more were a disappointment. Each time I read one of those unsatisfactory selections I often looked back at the cover and contemplate if I missed something. Based on the intriguing images the artist clearly saw or read something in the book that allowed them to create a cover that they felt embodied the books essence. Of course, that is a naïve outlook on an industry that has used attention-grabbing covers to lure readers for centuries. Anyone who has ever picked up a copy of an old pulp magazine or even a 1950s paperback can tell you that the cover and story don’t always jive.
(Images courtesy Pulp Covers – The Best of the Worst)
Books are not the only industry that use eye catching cover art to grab the buyers attention. Our mailbox (that old-fashion thing that sits at the end of the driveway) is filled weekly with a host of catalogs from all types of vendors. Some of the classic ones feature covers that are sometime worth framing like Orvis and LL Bean. One of my favorites is Bud Plant’s Incredible Catalog. This monthly treat in the mail features not only some awesome cover art, but inside it showcases comic books, pulp fiction, art books, and more. The catalog itself is a reference guide to just how great cover art can grab a buyers attention.
(Order from Bud’s Art Books to get on the mail listing for his Incredible Catalog.)
A considerable amount of time has passed since that book cover session. The only thing I remember from the event was that – green in a cover of a mystery novel resulted in more sales. Which naturally prompted the question – Then why not put green in every cover? I confess, I do not remember the answer, but I think if had some validly I would have.
When I was a teenager, I remember going to a lecture at the museum (which makes me sound like a nerd) from a science fiction illustrator. His presentation consisted of hundreds of examples of book and magazine artwork he had created. Although today I could not even begin to remember his name, many of his full color illustrations still resonate in my subconscious.
Back at the public library, I had my last book cover conversation. While attending a series of workshops on self-publishing the topic of book covers was broached. All the authors in attendance deferred everyone to professional websites that provided covers from a stock portfolio or would create an original as directed. When I finally got ready to publish, I used my graphic skills to create my own cover. I even put some green in it.
(Modelled my cover after Mike Shayne cover art. For more on my book and to order – check this out: Slip Horn Jive)