One of the lessons in publishing is in choosing the right cover for your book. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but who doesn’t? In fact, a cover says a lot about what one might expect once you’ve climbed inside to delve into a book’s contents.
I recently finished two book reviews – one of a chapbook and one of a self-published book of 62 pages – and both books are good examples of what to do with a book cover. One of them, however, turns into a disappointment when the contents of the book doesn’t match the cover, and that’s every bit as important as having a good cover in the first place.
The first review was of a chapbook, Transiens Essendum by Dustin E. Nispel. You can see the cover above in the preceding paragraph. Notice the fantasy-like pencil sketch of a castle keep that transmogrifies into a pointing finger set before a clock and navigational symbols. The sketch perfectly illustrates and accompanies the title, a Latin phrase meaning “to pass through this existence.” I love the pastoral implications and the space-time subtext that this brings to the cover and it perfectly matches the poetry that you’ll find on the inside when you open it to read. Good job from this brand new young poet.
By contrast, Eccentriq Love, judging by the cover, looks a bit promising, though I must say that I really like the cover of Transiens Essendum. Still, the self-published author does a good job of setting me up with this cover. The title is a play off the word “eccentric” with the slightly off misspelling, conjuring the real image of the meaning of the word in the awkwardness of its error. To take that to the next level, the author has added a subtitle, “Love deviating from the normal boundaries.” So far so good. I really want to see what’s in the book.
As you can see, the deviations and eccentricities don’t end with just the words of the cover; the cover image is a little odd, placed over a light purple background and presents the overall feeling of being eccentric, if not in love. Nice.
Unfortunately, the poetry inside the book is a letdown. Where the cover accentuates the eccentriq more than the love, the poetry leans more toward the love than the eccentriq and that’s the big sin. I was looking for eccentricities and deviations and found instead the sort of sappy love songs you’d find in the $1 bin at the local Wal-Mart. The unbalance is a beginner’s mistake for sure, but it’s worth noting that while you can have a great cover you should put much more emphasis on having great content. I’d much rather read a great book of poems with a lousy cover than to find a book with an awesome cover and hardly any value inside. Of course, the goal should always be to strive for both if possible.
Keep in mind that people are buying your book for the poetry, not for the cover, so spend more time polishing the former and when it comes time to publish, look for a cover that will compliment the content and not overshadow it.