One of the things I never really thought about until I started publishing is covers. What’s interesting is that I went to numerous writers’ conferences and they would discuss titles. I know I hate making up titles. In fact, I used to dream of the day when a publisher would decide on a title for me. After all, the must have some sort of training and expertise in the area…right? At least, that’s what the conferences would say. Mary Higgins Clark always created her titles based on songs. I like this idea, but I guess it’s already done so I can’t be like that. One author said he always tries to make it one work so he can hashtag it on all his marketing tweets. That, I thought, was pretty brilliant and yet oh so difficult.
Most never discussed the idea of covers. I find this interesting because we all accept the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” In fact, in one poll that I read readers admitted to deciding upon a book based on the cover. I have also found that covers not only have to reflect the theme of the book in an interesting way, but they also have to match their genre.
For instance, if you search through the YA paranormal genre, you will find a lot of blues, blacks and purples. There are some other colors, but most fit this “mood” of colors. They are dark and bold. The typical mystery genre has a lot of oranges and reds. Suspense has a lot of reds and blacks. Again, there are covers that break this trend…maybe to stand out…but, especially in the YA genre, books can be defined by the colors that they use.
I saw this in practice at my last book signing. A few years ago, I published my novels. At signings, I constantly had to identify the genre of the novels. I also had to convince people that they were not “scary” novels. I couldn’t understand it at the time. Now, I do. These covers fit in with the “suspense” and “mystery” Genres. In fact, The Lord of Nightmares fits very well with the horror genre book covers. Their confusion is justified.
Flash forward to now. The Lord of Nightmares was adapted into the paranormal genre. You’ll see lots of purples and blues. I found the fantasy genre had no common characteristics. But, many showcased characters on the front. Urban fantasy that didn’t use characters seemed to use cities. Both of those would be tough, so we went with the wolf. Again, sticking with the same color scheme aside from the green…but that connects to a character in the novel as well.
How do I know this made a difference? At the signing I did last weekend, I never had to mention genre. Readers automatically knew. They would ask if it was YA. I didn’t have to defend them, but simply confirm the reader’s decision. It was nice.
Next time you’re in the bookstore, look closer at covers. I’m sure you’ll find trends.