Great Covers Sell a Book.
Whoever said “Don’t judge a book by its cover” was so wrong it’s unbelievable. Here’s the thing. I come from an advertising/marketing background. And books – just like boxes of cereal, jars of peanut butter, and even board games – are package goods. So, yes, books most definitely are judged by their covers.
A good cover can hint at mystery, suspense, romance, or humor. Colors, typography, and artwork can also be carefully designed and arranged to boldly suggest a book’s contents.
My publisher, Penguin Random House, happens to do fantastic covers for all the books in my three series. And they’ve always been kind enough to allow me a huge amount of input. Here’s how it works: I start with the title of my book which generally suggests a cover theme. Then I scan the Internet for what I call “source images,” just random images I can send to the art directors to convey my thoughts and ideas.
Early on, I sent them an image of a wacky little chicken teapot. This has since been modified to become a kind of “bug” or logo for all my Cackleberry Club covers. This chicken teapot has popped up on the Cackleberry Club’s café counter, been ringed with pumpkins at their Halloween festival, and has peeked out of a flower-laden gazebo.
Take for example “Eggs on Ice,” my brand new Cackleberry Club Mystery. Here the little chicken teapot sits on a snow-covered table outside the Cackleberry Club cafe. I had found several source images that showed a tea table covered in snow and our cover idea simply spun off from there.
My book covers are great fun in that they convey the charm of the old-fashioned Cackleberry Club, yet they don’t rule out the fact that I include plenty of action that includes car chases, fires, explosions, ghostly specters, romance, and crazy BFF capers.
In fact, here’s the Cliff’s Notes on “Eggs on Ice,” my newest book:
As the Kindred Players hold their first dress rehearsal for A Christmas Carol, a ghost wafts onstage and murders the star of the show. Shocked from her perch in the wings, Suzanne Dietz, co-owner of the Cackleberry Club, chases this spooky specter through the shadowy backstage of the theatre, but loses him when he escapes into a snowstorm. Feeling angry and threatened, Suzanne honchos her own shadow investigation and ends up juggling multiple suspects that include the mayor of small town Kindred, a strange visiting minister, a former female employee of the victim, and the play’s director. True to character, Suzanne also deals with holiday tea parties, a second murder, a devastating fire, and a terrifying car crash – all while maintaining a sizzling romance with the town doctor. “Eggs on Ice” offers laugh-out-loud humor, cozy moments, and recipes that include Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Pork, Elvis French Toast, Pumpkin Breakfast Casserole, and Church Basement Funeral Bars.
Kind of fun, huh? Thanks for reading this blog post and have a terrific holiday!
Laura Childs is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of the Scrapbooking Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Recently, Book Riot named her mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.” In her previous life, Laura was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.