Beat of a Different Drummer

Cover art is something agonized over by all authors. Just what do you want to portray on your cover. This is the first thing people see when they search sales venues for a new book to purchase. As an author, you want to have the best cover possible, so you stand out against all the competition.

When my first book was published, I went with a cover that portrayed a couple staring into each other’s eyes. This was for a book about underage drinking, and a couple caught up in the hazards caused by this problem. At that time, I felt this portrayed the underlying love story in the novel.

The cover was well received. It was very well done. But eventually, I opted for a new cover, one showing a location important to the book’s overall theme rather than a secondary story line.


Many authors use couples on their cover art. This is more than a theme. It’s an overdone idea that the reader wants to see couples. Or they want to see a person important to the book. Searching for the perfect cover becomes more than difficult if you remain with this theme. There are only so many ways you can use people on a cover that will garner attention, if that’s all possible.

One of the big problems that I’ve noticed is when searching Amazon or other sales venues for different books, I’ve found that approximately 85% of the covers feature people. Have you seen that offering under a book you’re interested in? The one that says “If you like this book, you might like these” line? Go ahead and peek. How many have people in them?

As someone who has done this on numerous occasions, I can tell you. Too many to count. In fact, I noticed that even though I was looking for important information on books similar to mine, I couldn’t stop my eyes from sliding over those covers with people in them. There were far too many to stop and examine the blurb or read the first 20% of a book to be bothered.

That’s when my brain screeched at me. “Hold on. Just a minute. Do you want your books consigned to this type of problem?” And I came to a decision. Yes, I might pick out a few covers that included people, but from this point on, I was going to look for imagery that portrays the overall theme of the book. It might be a piece of architecture important to the story. I might locate scenery that portrays the theme of the book. I’ve even gone with something that people might initially think is unrelated to the book, but shows the emotions therein.

What feedback have I had after coming to this decision? One cover elicited comments from someone I’ve admired for years, scolding me for not having pictures of the people involved, for having a title and my name that aren’t done so large that you can’t see the picture. And for not demanding that the artist “fix” the problem immediately. That was one person out of hundreds who indicated they loved the cover art and wanted to buy the book as soon as they could. But those comments hurt because I’d admired her for so long, until I realized that what I had done was attracted a lot of people with my cover and they had nice things to say about it.
After coming to that realization, I didn’t look back. The cover art is the first thing a reader sees when they’re evaluating the book for purchase. A picture appeals to our sense of aesthetics. Once I’ve captured a reader’s attention, they will be more willing to take that step to click on the buy button, and that’s exactly what I’m after.