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Every Reader is a Cover Judge

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Every Reader is a Cover Judge

by Beth Erin

Every Reader is a Cover Judge

We've all heard the saying:
"Don't judge a book by its cover."
Well, we all do it, I'm judging, they're judging, and even if you think you aren't, you're judging too! Thank you to Heidi for suggesting today's topic by the way, it is much appreciated. Covers are so important (even if you're in judging denial, you must admit this)!

Some of the many possible objectives for a cover are to capture the reader's attention, reveal the setting, character(s), mood or genre, and basically nudge them to at least learn more about the story. Let's take a look at a few observations and chat about why and to whom they appeal.

Natural Beauties

Since one of the tasks covers can have is revealing the setting, taking advantage of a beautiful landscape or intriguing angle of man's ingenuity is a great way to draw readers in. Many of these covers are pretty enough to hang on your wall (even if you aren't the author).

Every Reader is a Cover Judge

Color Punch

I love seeing bright or contrasting colors and elements that pop right off the cover, not only does this catch the eye but bright and cheerful colors make me smile too (okay, most books make me smile anyway but don't try to distract me with trivial facts)!

Every Reader is a Cover Judge

Emotion Evoking

Here's a reader confession for y'all (I know y'all love it when I hop on here and spill my guts, we're all friends here), I'm a big ol' reader scaredy cat. Thrillers, gothic novels, murder mysteries... not my idea of fun. Covers that hint to whether I'm going to laugh, cry, or sleep with the lights on are appreciated!

Every Reader is a Cover Judge

Split Scenes

"A picture is worth a thousand words," or so the saying goes but books I read are much more than one thousand words... I believe this warrants tasteful split scenes! Character and landscape seems to be the most popular combination but as you'll see below, two characters or even two settings can share cover real estate.

Every Reader is a Cover Judge

Darling Doodles

The illustrated cover trend seems to have exploded recently and since y'all know how much I enjoy bright, happy colors, I don't have to tell you how happy this makes me (but I will anyway because it's late and I spent a way too long assembling all the covers and they make me very happy, I love all the colors).

Every Reader is a Cover Judge

Creative Edge

Ah, here are the brave, bold covers. The ones who we think of as the first to take the leap into something new, breaking the mold, combining cover trends (for example, Karen Barnett's Vintage National Park series recreates natural wonders with illustrations), or highlighting a unique story element.

Every Reader is a Cover Judge


As in nearly all things readerly, cover appeal is subjective. I want bearded men, maybe you want a barefoot Amish widow, it all boils down to knowing your readers and connecting them to your story from the first moment.

If you’re fishing for new readers, the cover is the hook but not if they don’t take the bait. In my humble reader opinion, a professionally designed cover is a second priority only to an experienced editor. Readers will not only be more likely to pick up a book with a beautiful cover, but they'll also be willing to spend more on it.

Make sure to hop back over to yesterday's post by Jolina Petersheim if you missed it!

Let's chat! Share some of the elements you most love seeing on book covers.
Let me know if you find yourself leaning towards any of the categories above.
What else do you expect a cover to tell you about a story? 


Join me tomorrow as I spotlight 10+ of my favorite covers on Faithfully Bookish! Susan May Warren will be sponsoring a two winner giveaway of her new release, Knox, to celebrate.

I feel obligated to leave this here, just in case...
Every Reader is a Cover Judge
Beth Erin is a Christian fiction enthusiast, book reviewer, and blogger. She strives to edify and connect with readers and authors at Faithfully Bookish and on social media. 

Beth also contributes to the Seekerville, Christian Fiction Readers RetreatHoarding Books, and Diversity Between the Pages blogs. She is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories.

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79 Comments on Seekerville: The Journey Continues: Every Reader is a Cover Judge

  • Anonymous
    on September 08, 2019 | 07:43 Anonymoussaid :
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  • Beth Erin
    on March 10, 2019 | 23:17 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Readers are loyal!"
  • Karen
    on March 09, 2019 | 17:51 Karensaid :
    "I honestly don’t have a favorite type of cover! As long as its mood matches the tone of the book then I’m happy. I admit that I’m turned off by low-quality covers, but if the book is by an author that I know and love then I’ll read it anyway!"
  • Toni Shiloh
    on March 09, 2019 | 12:46 Toni Shilohsaid :
    "Thanks, Beth!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 12:33 Beth Erinsaid :
    "LOL, I know this by experience!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 12:32 Beth Erinsaid :
    "yes"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 11:18 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Me too, my friend! I can't say no to a handsome face!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 11:18 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Oh my yes! My cover love post on dresses was the most popular to date (there was also a Becky Wade giveaway so there's that)! And um, no on the cover gore."
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 11:16 Beth Erinsaid :
    "YAY! It's my pleasure, Caryl! You know I'm fangirling with you!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 11:15 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Oh, I'm glad you love it, Heidi! I agree, an inaccurate cover really grates on me. You're right, Poppin' Titles would have been another great category! Thanks again for the suggestion!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 11:11 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Thank you, Debby! HUGS!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 11:11 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Thank you, Lucy! I'm glad you enjoyed it!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 11:10 Beth Erinsaid :
    "I think you win the most thought out comment award today, Vince! Thank you for sharing!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 11:09 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Friend recommendations trump all if they know what we like! Jessica, I knew I liked you!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 11:08 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Good practice, Edwina! Experienced readers are pretty good at knowing what they like!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 09, 2019 | 11:07 Beth Erinsaid :
    "I'm sorry Google is misbehaving, WE like you, Paula! Thank you for commenting anyway and for your kind words! Also, I want them all too, lol!"
  • Winnie
    on March 09, 2019 | 02:42 Winniesaid :
    "Fantastic post, Beth! What a collection of amazing covers! I must admit I get drawn in by a great cover, but I read the blurb, too, to make sure it sounds intriguing. It's kind of interesting to see the what's in style in covers. I'm a little shallow and tend to be drawn to handsome cowboys on the cover! :-D "
  • Erica Vetsch
    on March 08, 2019 | 23:28 Erica Vetschsaid :
    "I'm drawn in by a beautiful period dress. Regency, Victorian, flapper, sheath. Any dress/costume that grounds the story in a particular era.

    What I am not a fan of is the "Marie Antoinette" cover where the heroine's head is chopped off. "
  • Caryl Kane
    on March 08, 2019 | 20:48 Caryl Kanesaid :
    "Pardon me while is fangirl over these GORGEOUS covers! BETH, thank you for the tantalizing eye candy!"
  • Heidi Reads...
    on March 08, 2019 | 18:37 Heidi Reads...said :
    "Yay!!! I love this post! As an artist and photographer I'm a highly visual person, especially when reading. A cover is so important in communicating what the book is about. I'm always disappointed when a cover doesn't accurately represent the vibe of the story, and cherish the book more when it does. Especially when the design is spot-on. And trend-setters or covers that make us rethink the current trend are always exciting. I love your picks for each category, great examples! I appreciate when an author's books has a style, even if the books aren't connected, like Katherine Reay's. Her latest book cover is a little less painterly with the title font, but it's a good partial transition to keep the books and illustration the same style, and overall it looks like it reflects what the story is about. I could make a whole other category just for title design- one of my top picks for that would be The Saturday Night Supper Club!"
  • Debby Giusti
    on March 08, 2019 | 18:17 Debby Giustisaid :
    "Beth, great post! Loved your breakdown of covers. So much to think about when designing that perfect cover. You've showcased so many that draw me in.

    I agree that a great editor comes first, then a fantastic cover!

    Hugs!"
  • Lucy Reynolds
    on March 08, 2019 | 17:04 Lucy Reynolds said :
    "I loved reading this and looking at all the types of covers. Thank you for sharing. "
  • Vince
    on March 08, 2019 | 14:47 Vincesaid :
    "Hi Beth:

    Wow! I think you've collected and shown more covers than have ever appeared on Seekerville!
    Thanks for all that work.

    I like to look at covers as a marketing person. That is, by asking which would most likely generate the most sales. This is a money approach based on direct marketing testing.

    The job of a cover:

    1. Attract the favorable attention of the best prospects.
    The cover must immediately, on first sight, identify the book's genre.

    If a cover does not show it's genre, then many of the people most likely to buy the book may miss it. People don't have the time or the patience to stop, pickup, and read the blurb to try and figure how what kind of book it is. Worse still is the case where the book displays the wrong genre! This is a sale killer. The non-prospects will be attracted to the book and be disappointed while the best prospects will most likely pass it by and pick up books that clearly are in the genre they are looking to buy.

    2. The cover must clearly display the title and the author name.
    This is a big problem because artists create the cover art and many artists see type as graffiti defacing their beautiful artwork. This is a constant fight in advertising.

    A best selling writer needs her name big and prominent on the cover. Also the title should work to sell the book just as a headline in an ad needs to sell the reader on reading the ad.

    One of the biggest marketing mistakes in book marketing is having weak titles. In tested direct marketing ads, the same exact ad, except for the headline, have been tested with several headlines. This is done in a split run in a newspaper or magazine where every other ad runs in the same location on the same day. So everything is the same except the headline which is being tested. In some cases one headline will sell 18 times more product than the other ad. A powerful selling title can greatly increase book sales.

    However, what good is a great title if you can't read it because of the type face or placement over the artwork? Little good. Opportunity lost.

    So given just the two above criteria these are the best covers I would select from all you have shown. BTW: it is very good that you've shown these covers in the size they are. This smaller size is more realistic as compared to how the average reader is going to see them at a book store.

    Top Ten Titles from a Marketing POV

    1. Over the Edge, Mary Connealy
    2. Claiming Mariah, Pam Hillman
    3. Peace in the Valley, Ruth Logan Herne
    4. Rescue, Susan May Warren
    5. Wild Montana Skies, Susan May Warren
    6. A Matter of Trust, Susan May Warren
    7. Deadly Proof, Rachel Dylan
    8. Cold Shot, Dani Pettrey
    9. Still Life, Dani Pettrey
    10. Crown of Souls, Ronie Kendig

    Notice how many covers that you can not tell the author or the title at a glance. The artists won the design battle on these books. Also the last items on my list do seem hard for me to determine what genre they are. But the design is powerful.

    This list is based on the cover's potential to attract the favorable attention of the best prospects. It is not a list of pretty covers. If they were wall posters for sale, pretty would count and different covers would have been selected.

    What do you think?

    Vince



    "
  • Jessica Baker
    on March 08, 2019 | 13:45 Jessica Bakersaid :
    "I may initially judge a book by its cover, BUT if I have a friend who has recommended a book with a horrible cover, well I’ll still read it. But covers? Yeah I kind of love looking at them. With me, the less writing on the cover the better. I want to see the picture! And I don’t mind this bearded men suggestion 😜. "
  • Beth Jamison
    on March 08, 2019 | 13:11 Beth Jamisonsaid :
    "It truly is very rewarding. Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks! ;) "
  • Edwina
    on March 08, 2019 | 12:35 Edwinasaid :
    "I look at the cover first, and then I'll check out the inside description. The two combined will usually make up my mind!"
  • Anonymous
    on March 08, 2019 | 12:32 Anonymoussaid :
    "Great post. Love the categories. I own some of these but want nearly all of them! Thanks.
    Paula Shreckhise ( google doesn’t like me today) "
  • MeezCarrie
    on March 08, 2019 | 12:15 MeezCarriesaid :
    ""those of us who read hundreds of books a year are the minority in more ways than one." - translated: we're a little weird ;) "
  • MeezCarrie
    on March 08, 2019 | 12:14 MeezCarriesaid :
    "Her Colorado Cowboy cover ... I'm still drooling."
  • Beth Erin
    on March 08, 2019 | 11:28 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Thank you, Connie! Covers can tell us a lot about a story. I don't think we should feel guilty about using covers to help us make that "to read or not to read" decision. Like Tracey said above, there are just so many books to choose from!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 08, 2019 | 11:22 Beth Erinsaid :
    "I completely agree, friend! Thank you for stopping by, Mel!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 08, 2019 | 11:20 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Thank you, Jan! Your observations hit the nail on the head!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 08, 2019 | 11:18 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Ha! I'm glad, Missy! Laughter is good medicine :) There are so many things we consciously and subconsciously take into account when choosing a book. "
  • Connie Porter Saunders
    on March 08, 2019 | 11:17 Connie Porter Saunderssaid :
    "I am very guilty of judging books by their covers, especially if I don't know the author's work. Thanks for sharing these covers and grouping them. Great job!!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 08, 2019 | 11:09 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Mindy, if your new release is any indication, I think you're doing just fine! Of course, anytime there's a cowboy involved you're already ahead of the game as far as I'm concerned, lol! I'm glad I could give you some new things to think about, it's good to continue growing and improving! By the way, you'll want to check out tomorrow's post on my blog ;)"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 08, 2019 | 10:59 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Tracey, I'll also admit to more scrolling than necessary, lol! Excellent points: the cover can make or break a purchase and yes, the covers can mislead us on occasion for better or worse. I've read some disappointing stories with wonderful covers an a few great stories with lackluster covers.

    Thanks for being a scaredy cat with me! Yay for pretty covers!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 08, 2019 | 10:52 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Toni! I can't believe your covers didn't end up in the post, I love them so much! Several were on my desktop but didn't jump out for the final categories I went with, I obviously needed a beautiful people category. I'm going to start a new Pinterest board right now, hehehe!"
  • Melony Teague
    on March 08, 2019 | 10:49 Melony Teaguesaid :
    "Covers are so important. I do judge books by covers, they are so pretty! "
  • Beth Erin
    on March 08, 2019 | 10:46 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Thank you, my Carrie!!! And I forgot to credit my most important sources!!! I should just add a permanent line to my bio... I don't do anything fun without help from my book sisters!"
  • Beth Erin
    on March 08, 2019 | 10:43 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Thanks so much, Beth!!! I think few readers would use the cover as the only deciding factor with the exception of a quick library find from a favorite genre. Knowing the story is an important advantage in designing the cover and I've definitely seen covers that miss the mark in that regard. I'm cheering you on as you flex your cover design muscles and continue to learn and grow! It's so rewarding to learn new things, isn't it?! "
  • Beth Erin
    on March 08, 2019 | 10:30 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Ruthy, there's no doubt about it, you're one of kind, my friend! I agree that an illustrated cover is a great fit for mysteries. Authors should absolutely have at least some say in cover design, no one knows the story better than its writer.

    While you might not buy a book because of a cover, I bet you've picked up a book because of the cover or perhaps even passed a book over (unintentionally) because of its cover. If given the choice between two books, the cover is the first element of the book that has the opportunity to tip the scales. Amid an ocean of books, covers are the calling cards, the beacons, the first step in marketing the story to the great wide world.

    I personally prefer a cold-read, no blurb, no endorsements, no reviews, (and for the love of paper and ink, stop putting those sneak-peek chapters in the back of books, it's just disorienting and irritating!) but I know those of us who read hundreds of books a year are the minority in more ways than one."
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