I don’t care what the old adage says, in my opinion, you can tell a lot about a book (a person) by its cover. This is precisely why, when a book isn’t packaged properly, sales fall flat. Each genre has a set of rules—themes, colors, and styles—that are common to the category. Of course these rules are broken from time to time, just as authors break genre rules. But the marketing experts in their dens know what sells. Let’s take a look at a few categories.
You can definitely see patterns, right?
And now my cover. As you can see Plume has done a wonderful job marrying two categories as it’s both women’s fiction and a historical. But it didn’t begin this way. The design team produced another cover before the final (to the right). The concept was like nothing I had ever seen before so I knew they were pushing the envelope and thinking outside of the box—something I very much appreciated, especially since I feel my novel pushes the boundaries of straight historical fiction. But the first cover sent the wrong message. It reflected a nonfiction title, in my opinion, that would sell in the UK, but not in the U.S.
Plume gracefully went back to the drawing board, using a list of suggestions my agent and I put together. When this cover arrived in my inbox, I oohed and aahed. They really nailed the women’s fiction and historical elements beautifully in a unique way. No headless woman and heaving breasts on my cover! Plus it has an elegant and romantic feel that I just adore. My favorite part is that the locket appears to move. I can’t help but be reminded of the rapid pace of Josephine’s life, how it changed instantly at times, without warning. The movement also begs the question: Is she leaving the locket (and her beloved) behind? The bit of mystery is fantastic.
Becoming Josephine will be released by De Fontein, a Dutch press in the Netherlands in 2015. Toss in another culture and all of those genre rules for covers change to reflect what appeals to that society. I’m dying to see what DeHern Press does to it.
How about you? Do you judge a book by its cover?