Do you buy a book by the cover?
Absolutely. There’s an old saying about first impressions being the most important. You know, you’ve got to make a good first impression because you don’t get a second chance. That is so very true when it comes to the cover of the book. Humans are very visual beings. Let’s say you’re in the bookstore walking passed shelves full of books. The first thing you see is the cover and the design. You don’t really notice the title or the author’s name first. You see the cover design. I go for the book that I think has a unique cover or the cover really stands out. You could take the same manuscript and put them side-by-side on a shelf but have one cover that is just black and white and the other that has a nice, flashy, eye-catching design and nine out of ten people are immediately going to go to the one with the nicely designed cover.
As an author it’s real important to have a well-designed and appealing cover. Not ever cover has to be flashy but it has to be able to grab the readers’ attention. Otherwise, they’re just going to pass right over it in favor of one that catches their eye. As an author, you’ve got one shot to make that first impression. You’ve got to have a really good cover designer, and I do believe that I have one. They’ve got to be able to incorporate some elements of the book and make it visually appealing. For Conversations on the Bench, I originally wanted the cover to just have the black and white picture of a long bench as the focal point. Well, with the test audience, that cover didn’t go over well at all, so I let the graphic designer have carte blanche with it. He came up with the cover that is on the book, and it was much more favorably received by the test audience. So, I learned a very valuable lesson about the importance of the cover design, and my vision isn’t necessarily what connects with the readers.