Thursday, 14 July 2011

Why you really shouldn't judge a book by its cover - Guest post by Tori

Come closer, I'll tell you a secret. When I was planning this week-long event and Tori aka The Book Faery told me what she wanted to talk to you about I had a "Yes! Finally!" moment. You see, the H&W Investigations series is fantastic: the characters are entertaining, the writing is flowing and the story keeps you on the edge of your seat, then how come not everyone is reading it? Several of my UF lover friends revealed to me the reason for that: they were scared away by the covers... Which is a shame, because they, and you are missing out on a wonderful UF series. So I was more than happy when Tori wanted to warn you not to judge the series by the book covers. So please trust us, give the H&W Investigations series a chance, and I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised, I know I was :-)

Why you really shouldn't judge a book by its cover
by Tori the Book Faery

Having an eye-catching cover is almost as important for sales as the story itself. Why? Well, lets say you're not a blogger, but a reader. That means you probably don't read nearly as much as a blogger, you have a book buying budget (we all do), and you're probably hardpressed for time because of real life.

When you go to a physical B&N/Borders/insert-other-bookstore-name-here, chances are you're browsing through the available titles, searching for something that catches your eye. This mission is something that I like to refer to as the search for eyecandy. And guess what? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you're coughing up the money to buy a book, why shouldn't you want something with a pretty cover that you can lovingly caress when you're not immersed in the story?

I mean, think about it. If you had a choice between the not-so-good cover with poor photoshopping skills versus the vibrant cover that makes use of different textures and fonts to compliment whatever the focal point image is, chances are you'll pick the latter up first. Most of us do.

The problem with this is when the art departments at publishing houses assign not-so-good covers for excellent stories and breathtaking covers for the craptastic stories. I think we've all experienced this at least once in our lives. The fugly cover makes you cringe and want to cover it with a brown paper bag (see Example 1 further below), but the story within has your mind racing with possibilities for the next installment... whereas the beautiful cover makes you just stare at it in complete awe, but the story makes you want to throw the the novel across the room. 

It happens, and while the dissonance does tend to disappointment me, what bothers me the most is when blog readers tell me they're avoiding a particular series that I--and many other readers/bloggers--adore because the covers are so horrible.

Example 1:

Notice Hooker Shia. When TBTO's cover image was first released to the general public, there was a call to arms amongst bloggers. We were outraged that Hooker/Transvestite Shia even existed because, if one has read HBTO (book 1), he or she knows that Shia is anything but a hooker and/or transvestite.

If you're visiting Stella's blog this week, then you're probably celebrating the whole "we love Jess Haines *cough*Royce*cough* and her books" week. If you're here, it means you've probably read the series, you're probably an addict like me, and you know that her covers fall into the not-so-good category. Or, if you're here, you're intrigued by this series and want to learn just what's so great about it.

Remember that situation I mentioned in the prior paragraph? The one about avoiding a series because the covers make you want to hurl? Time to guess which series some readers were avoiding!

(If you say the H&W series, you get a virtual cookie). 

If you look on my blog, you'll see that all of the books written by Jess Haines have received ratings in the 4-5 star range. While I do have more 4 and 5 star reviews than I do 1-3, I think it is important to note that not every book--even if it is rated a 4 or 4.5--blows my mind. You can usually tell which ones do when I'm gushing in my review about how awesome a certain aspect was.

With the H&W Investigations series, there has been at least one element in each book that totally blows me away every time. That kind of excitement is incredibly rare for me, so when I hear a reader passing up on Jess's series because "the cover is so blah," I get mad; he/she is potentially missing out on a storyline that can get him/her just as emotional about it as I get because the covers look awful.

But guess what!! The storyline and characterization and tension and sheer awesomeness are amazing! Shirtless, yummy goodness.

So my friends, it is time to stop cover judging and buying. How about challenging yourself while searching for that eyecandy? The next time you're wandering through the bookstore, pick up as many not-so-good covers (to research--not necessarily buy) as you do beautiful covers.

Maybe you'll find a gem.

You can find Tori at The Book Faery, Twitter and Goodreads.

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