Judging a Book by its Cover

I read an interesting article today from Publisher’s Weekly about how they made the cover for one of Sara Shepherd’s books (author of Pretty Little Liars). It was an interesting read. They actually did a rather expensive photo shoot. Of course, I suppose if you’re as popular as Sara Shepherd, you deserve a photo shoot just for your book covers.

On the other end of the spectrum, lesser known authors (though no less talented) get stock photos. I was browsing around the web a few weeks ago and found a cover that looked remarkably like Ann Dee Ellis’s Everything is Fine (fabulous book, by the way). And then on further inspection, I found on the Librarified blog there are, in fact, two other books using that same picture:

Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with stock photos. I just think that as an author, I’d be a little sad that my cover wasn’t wholly unique, no matter how cool this girl’s socks are. But I can see why publishers do it. If they’re not sure how much a book is going to make, they can’t go spending $18,000 for a photo shoot for every book. The publishing companies would crash and burn in no time flat.

In looking at these three covers, I would have to say that each of them would draw me in and make me want to read more. The photo is compelling, which is probably why it’s been used 3 times. 🙂  But (trying not to be biased), I think I’d go first for Everything is Fine, then for Lifted, and last for Safe. And I think it’s because when I can see the girl’s face, I’m more inclined to read it.

I was having a cover discussion with some writer friends a while back, and we were talking about how publishers are putting teen faces on so many covers. For example, the hardback of Shannon Hale’s Goose Girl has some beautiful art, but they put a teen girl on the front of the paperback. And even books that had art of a teenager on it, these have switched to photos, like the earlier printings of Ella Enchanted versus the newer cover.

I think teens are more prone to pick up covers with pretty faces on them. Or at least teen girls will. A boy needs a different draw. Like the Hunger Games covers–they are more like adult covers. But then there are covers for books like the Gone series with a photo of both a boy and a girl. These covers can go either way.

What draws you to a book cover?

About Karen Krueger

I write for teens when I'm not chasing after two cute kids. I love to sing and eat cereal (though not at the same time), and I most certainly am not a vampire because I'm addicted to sunshine.
This entry was posted in Books & Reading, Q4U and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Judging a Book by its Cover

  1. amie borst says:

    that’s really interesting. i had no idea they used stock photos. thanks for sharing!

  2. Gretchen says:

    So glad that blog post was useful! I also wrote about how disappointed I was with the cover art change in THE GOOSE GIRL and PRINCESS ACADEMY that you might find interesting:


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