Sunday, July 15, 2012

People Do Judge a Book by its Cover

There have been studies – hidden video camera stuff – that show how people choose a book. First, book browsers scan a bunch of books, looking at the covers. They pick one out, look at the front up close, turn it over to read the back copy, then turn back to the front. They scowl and frown and smile and touch.
If the book manages to get through all of those tests, only then do they open it up, read a few sentences and maybe buy the book.
Covers are that important.

The covers of my books – the American ones – have all been designed by Keith Carlson, a graphic artist in Portland, Oregon. He is a design wizard.
From the first book, the idea was to have bold designs, strong colors, and somewhat over-the-top illustrations. Not as racy as the pulp covers of the '40s and '50s, but definitely not soft and subtle, either.
For 11 years now I've watched reader reactions. Many people tell me they love the covers. One of the most common questions I get is, “Who does your covers?”
A few just look without talking. They stare, their eyes moving from book to book. Then they pick up a book, read the back, and look at the front again, just like in the hidden-camera videos.
All ten of my covers have individual components, but they also share common design elements so that they subtly communicate the sense that each book is part of a series.
Many times, people have said, “These covers make such a good set, they must have all been planned from the beginning.”
The truth is that Keith Carlson made it look that way. I owe him a great deal.

P.S. I hope the stories live up to the covers!

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