Wednesday, July 25, 2012

You CAN Tell A Book By It’s Cover

That was the title of a Book Talk I gave to readers and writers a few years ago. Today’s Blog shares segments of my talk..
 "Two things that sell a book are: Cover and Copy." That’s what the publishers say. My talk identified the elements of cover and copy that intrigue, inspire and induce the reader, using covers from books written in four different eras.
For the sake of brevity I’ve chosen two to tell you about The first book is an American Pioneer novel, A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick. It is based on a true story about a communal society and the position of women in the nineteenth century.
 The cover evokes the setting - a colorful scene of mountains, prairie, and covered wagons trekking west.
A short synopsis on the cover flap invites the reader to experience
“A Community searching for refuge,
A Woman Finding her voice.”
The people of Bethel Missouri seek to live with simplicity and generosity existing in the world of the 1850’s, but remaining set apart from its distractions and vanities. Rather than finding peace in this would-be utopia, spirited young Emma Wagner chafed at the constraints of a culture that values conformity over independent thought, especially in women.
 The cover flap also gives a short blurb about the author, Jane Kirkpatrick, award winning, best selling author of eleven novels.
 A praise quote: “A Clearing in the Wild is Jane Kirkpatrick at her finest. Emma Wagner’s story feels as genuine as if she herself were telling it.”
 Could the praise induce readers to buy? I was induced, still enjoy early Americana, and highly recommend Jane’s novel. Did the Cover and Copy influence me? You bet!
 The second book in my Book talk takes the reader to the Civil War era and the story’s theme is similar to A Clearing in the Wild. Four Summers Waiting  is a Historical Romance, the  story of a young woman’s struggle to help the Union Army’s cause and balance her  sentiments with her father’s opposition to the war. In addition to historical events during the Civil War, readers experience restrictions placed on women and their roles during the 1800’s.The book is based on the true story of my children’s ancestors. Authentic family letters and diary excerpts appear throughout the novel, that true to the title, covers four summers of the couple’s war time courtship.  

Four Summers Waiting, published in 2006, was my first novel. The original cover had a muted, antiquated look portraying two figures riding in a carriage. The dusky green background was broken by a shaft of light over the American flag carried by a line of Civil War soldiers. I believe the cover lends drama and gives a strong sense of plot. The cover was intriguing enough to help sell out the first edition of the book.  It received a second edition in Large Print and it is currently available as an electronic book on Kindle.
When the book rights reverted to me I had to have a new cover for the Kindle edition. Nonetheless, the premise stated in the beginning of my Book Talk, Cover and Copy sells books will hopefully ring true again for Four Summers Waiting...


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Mary,

I do agree with you. I believe cover and copy are key in selling novels. Cover design tells readers what kind of novel the book is and then they can pick it up and read the blurbs, whether praise from fellow authors or advance reviews from publications.

Mary F. Schoenecker said...

Thanks , Jacqueline, for your comment. Sorry the blog was posted two days early, but I geuss the cliche, "better late than never" holds true.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Early's good too! As long as it gets there.

Alyssa said...

I always choose books by their covers, for sure. One of the things I look at first is the comments from magazines or other authors, as you said. I think that it can be frustrating as a reader if the cover does not correspond with the tone or plot of a book, or if it depicts something specifically from the book, which overrides your imagination. The cover of Four Summers Waiting properly reflects plot and tone, so it's perfect.

Mary F Schoenecker said...

Thanks Alyssa, for confirming what I believe holds true for Four Summers Waiting.I do appreciate your comments.