Books

book covers: the bad and the ugly

We’re told never to judge a book by it’s cover. It’s a load of crap. I do it all the time. But these book covers take judging to a whole new level.

When I came across this article, and I was told about a website dedicated to ‘crap book covers’, I’ll be honest, I underestimated how crap they would be. I don’t mean to sound like a bitch, but they’re really terrible.

Here’s a direct link to the tumblr page ‘Lousy Book Covers’. I’d recommend a look, if not for some lols, for the learning. Looking through the pages of dodgy photoshops, cartoon drawings and cut and pastes has made me really think about how important a good book cover is.

I remember in an editing class I did, we looked at the marketing of different books. The ones that publishers had high hopes for, the ones they thought were really going to rake in the cash, were adorned with shiny lettering, with the authors name in massive font, and were slightly bigger in size. Other novels were more average sized, paperbacks, plain lettering, not as fancy.

I’d taken these things for granted, but the publishers really do expect you to judge a book by it’s cover. And a lot of the time, it works.

I wouldn’t pick up Spending Christmas with a Yeti or If You Miss the Train I’m On. I’m sorry. But I wouldn’t.

Sometimes as writers we don’t get a whole lot of say over our book covers. I know some of my teachers who’d been published hadn’t been happy with cover proposals, but couldn’t do much about it. I can’t help but think I’d be kind of shattered.

Kudos to the writers featured on ‘Lousy Book Covers’ for getting their works out there, but I can’t get past the fact that if that was my novel, my baby, I wouldn’t settle for any old picture.

But I guess the cover of the book and the marketing of it is just another of the major realities of the publishing process, and sometimes it just gets ugly.

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6 thoughts on “book covers: the bad and the ugly

  1. Very funny. The lumberjack book cover had me in stitches! It would be terrible to have someone design a book cover that you absolutely hated. Especially after all the time and effort you’d put into writing the story.

    • Exactly! And I just think that there’s nothing wrong with having a bit of pride in your book cover. It’s yours book, you’ve been with it from it’s conception, so why let someone slap an ugly cover on something you love?

  2. Ha ha. Those were awesome (or dreadful, depending on how look at it). These must be the result of either a lack of money, imagination, or just good taste.

    You are 100% on judging a book by its cover. I like to think I don’t, but I absolutely do allow a book’s cover to attract my eyes. Ultimately a bad idea, since it really has no relation to the quality of work its covering.

    Thanks for the laughs 🙂

    • Glad you liked it Dave! I had the same first impression, that the authors mustn’t have had much money or a good publisher to work on a cover for them. Then I felt bad for judging. But it’s what we all do. First impressions are everything, and when you’re trying to sell something and make money (writing is still a business) then you want to make a good impression.

      I know the cover of ‘The White Tiger’ by Aravind Adiga really struck me. Just the lettering of the title was enough. I had no idea what it was about, but everytime I went past it at the library I admired the cover. Just recently I saw it in a second hand bookstore, grabbed it, and then realised it was a Man Booker Prize winner. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t judge for myself whether the cover reflects the novel, but the publishers must have thought so to go for such a bold first impression (it appealed to me at least!).

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