Perhaps not all about the cover, but if a cover tells us the first 1000 words of your story you’d best make sure they say what you want them to. I have very specific cover pet-peeves, some of them authors could do something about, and others they could not.
For the love of chocolate PLEASE make your cover tell me something about the book. If I see a seascape on the front cover and there is only one beach in your entire book and it really isn’t even an important scene, you’ve conned me. I might give you a good review, but my chances of reading another book by you are slim.
If the woman in your story is (as stated on multiple occasions in your novel) a red-head or a brunette, don’t put a blonde on your cover. Again, I feel conned. I create the story in my head as I read; the cover gives me a context with which to start. It makes no sense whatsoever to meticulously edit every minor detail in the book for continuity, then skip over something that is fairly easy to rectify. I realize those in traditional printing have less of a say in the cover, but it is still an annoyance. I’ve read Amazon reviews, I know I am not even close to the first person this has annoyed in both traditional and indie publishing.
I’ve seen in two separate cases now, with reasonably popular indie authors, the use of the same model/s for two different couples in the same series. I read the book blurbs to verify. Unless it’s a series where two sets of twins meet and marry… This might be a minor pet peeve to others but I promise you, once you start looking for it, you can’t un-see it. It takes more than changing the pose of two people to change who they are. Seriously, these were not poorly done covers. In one case, it was obvious that separate images were purchased…just of the same couple. The other, the model had a very distinct facial expression and the only change was her hair color.
Is that a ghost?
The poorly pasted in model over a strange or ill-fitting backdrop, often with the cut lines still showing. I see this a lot in Amish or historical fiction. There are buggies in weird places, women with makeup in Amish caps. Hats that don’t quite fit properly. They sometimes feature woman in ill-fitting costumes with no shadows…It’s creepy. Though, Amish and historical fiction aren’t the only victims of the Where’s Waldo cover.
I have three questions I ask before I download, buy, or agree to read any book.
- Is it within a genre I am willing to read (there are a few I am generally not).
- Is the star rating 3 or above and what do the worst ratings say (this is for another topic another day)
- Is the cover appealing?
I know that I’m not the only person who looks at covers to determine what I will read. I might give a book with a “meh” cover a chance if it comes recommended, but it isn’t one I will just pick up when I browse through Amazon or my local bookstore. Think of your cover as a first date, are you showing your best self to make someone look twice?
Do covers matter to you? Any pet peeves about covers that I missed?