Cover Art, Truth in Advertising?


As a reader, it’s always annoyed me when cover art doesn’t match the book description.  I believed the writer just didn’t care enough about their work.  They went to all this trouble to describe a character but didn’t care enough to make sure the artist portrayed their main character correctly!  *Outrage*

When I began researching traditional publishing, I learned how little control the author sometimes has on the cover art of their book.  And it horrified me.  The saying is “you can’t judge and a book by its cover,” is more true than one might know.  Sometimes publishing houses commission artists and give them no description including within the book, only an idea of what THEY think will sell the book (which may not be what’s in the book).  When the cover isn’t accurate to the book, you might need to blame the publishing house and not the author.  

BUT, the cover sells a book.  I may know better than to pick books based on covers (and have loved many books despite a less than amazing cover) but I’ve also put down a book based on a horrendous cover.  

AND I’ve been mad at books because the cover doesn’t match the content. As a person who tends to finish books once I’ve started, I’m more likely to be mad regarding a false cover than I am to have not read a book due to a bad cover… but I’d love stats on how most readers react.

A cover is important.  Composition, what you show, how you show it, all of it matters.  Does it have to be accurate to the book though?  

If current covers are anything to go by.  The insides don’t have to match the outside, but where is the line one can push before readers feel tricked?

Food for thought: 

  1. What’s the most important part of your book/ what do you think would compel a reader to pick up your book?
  2. Do you know what you want your cover to be of?
  3. How accurate should it be to the writer’s description?  Does accuracy matter more than visual layout or imagination?
  4. What’s the difference between an artistic rendering and deception?  
  5. Do you have a favorite cover, does it align with your favorite book?