What’s in a Cover?

My friend, novelist Morag Joss put an interesting post on her site recently about how her publisher had chosen two different covers and titles for her latest book  to appeal to two different markets – the U.S. and U.K. The covers are radically different  but the content is the same. One assumes that the publishers know their stuff but it is intriguing. The book for UK publication is called ‘Across the Bridge‘ and the US version ‘Among The Missing’.

First Impressions

One of these covers will probably attract you more than the other; you will be more likely to pick up one if browsing in a bookshop.

Whether we like it or not people judge a book by its cover. Every time you step into public view you are projecting an image. You may not like that idea and resolutely resist the idea that appearance matters and that will be the image you are projecting! It’s like your shadow, you can’t get rid of it, it’s always there. But you can choose, to a degree, what image you project.

So it is worth taking a few moments to consider if the ‘cover’ you are projecting to the world is the one you want out there. Is your ‘cover’ the best one for your target audience? When you first appear at an event or meeting, people look at you and make a judgement. It may be a positive assessment or it may not. If positive, you start with an advantage. If negative the reverse is true. You are on the back foot from the start and will have to work harder.

Which Cover?

Back to those covers. Here is the US version opposite. What do you think? Do you prefer the U.S version or the first? I’d love to know. If you are a US reader has the publisher shown the right cover to sell it to you, and likewise for the UK? Do tell!

And while we’re on the subject, what do you think of the cover of my book? You can be totally honest as hard copies are selling out and a new run will be coming soon. But there are still ‘first edition’ copies available!


Posted on March 16th, 2011 by

9 Responses to “What’s in a Cover?”

  1. clara winter says:

    Morags’s book: I would prefer the US cover, could be a thriller or ‘modern life’ – lost in translation – story… UK cover refers to romantic novel. And I don’t really like romantic novels …
    Jane’s book: I like the bright colors – but when I saw the bags I thought of a book about fashion, life style …not work. Does a notebook, Imac fit in?

    • Jane says:

      Hi Clara, thanks for the comments. I’d love to see Morag’s publishers put both out and measure responses. Thanks too for comment on my book cover. Jane

  2. Jules says:

    I prefer the US version, the image used gives a more exciting impression of what could be inside the book. For me, the UK one looks less inviting. Agree with Clara above, it does look more like a romantic novel (not my cup of tea personally).

    Regarding the cover of your book, I rather like the simple yet colourful style. It’s eye catching and accessible.

    • Jane says:

      Jules, thanks for commenting, and for comments on my book cover too. And Sarah, I know! The covers are just so different aren’t they? Haven’t read the book yet but it will be interesting to see which one we think most accurately reflects the content. Knowing Morag’s work I’d probably plump for the US version, although it is more hard edged than her work usually is. Fascinating…

  3. Sarah Duncan says:

    The UK cover says romantic, family saga set in Edwardian NE England – tho on second look realise there are pine needles which makes me think it’s supposed to be the Far East. The US cover says urban, hard-edged, gritty thriller. I’m staggered by the difference!

  4. sue ritchie says:

    Hi Jane

    They look like completely different books! The first one looks like a soft Romancey-type thing, and the second one looks as though it would be in the thriller section, alongside the offerings of Linwood Barclay and such like. Even the names suggest something different; the second sounds much more exciting, but i would be initially drawn to the first one….As i like both types of books, i would eventually pick up either!
    Quite amazing how the same book can be presented, and therefore marketed, at such different audiences!

    • Jane says:

      Hi Sue, I reckon there’s a PhD waiting to be done on this topic…it is really interesting! Maybe I should put my book out in 2 different covers and see which sells most! What would be the absolute opposite of professional looking handbags…?

  5. morag edward says:

    I know this is an old post, but I wanted to say that this is the best example of book cover confusion I’ve seen in a long time! I wouldn’t pick up the UK book, not with a cover that suggests it is a wafty romance. However, having seen the bafflingly contradictory US cover, I now feel the need to read it.

    Trying to guess what your book is about just from the cover (which I like) I decided it was probably a witty strategy guide for funding/ managing an out of control shopping addiction. I now know better!

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