I’ve been discussing covers lately. You see, the first crop of books I sold will be hitting shelves next summer, which means the authors and I are dealing with the fun stuff that happens nine months before publication, like reading potential flap copy, talking about follow-ups, and, of course, looking over cover concepts.
Covers are obviously important. A great cover can stand out and draw in a book buyer; a lousy cover can do just the opposite. However, when it comes to my own book purchasing (or at least what I used to do before landing in the industry), I found that a good cover was never, ever the deciding factor for me. Sure, sometimes a particularly striking cover could catch my eye, but, being a poor graduate student, I had to be incredibly picky with what to buy, and the cover typically didn’t hold much weight for me if I didn’t know more about the book.
If anything on the cover was going to sway me to buy a book I’d never heard of, it was likely going to be awards. Pulitzer? Cool! Newbery? Awesome! Flint, Michigan Top 15 Novel about Ponies Award…super!
My stupid habits aside, I’m curious as to what really matters to you and to your children (if you have them) when it comes time to buy books. To make it a little easier, let’s only consider books by writers you’ve never heard of, so we’re not saying, “Well, it’s the new so-and-so and I just had to have it.”
What does it for you? The cover? Reviews? Blurbs on the jacket? Awards? Other factors I’m not thinking of? If you say all of the above, what rank do you put them in?