Covers – what makes you pick up THAT book?

I was in a bookshop the other day – one of my fave places to be – when suddenly I was struck by how many different kinds of covers there are, and how many books aimed at girls now seem to use photos of real girls. For example, when Cathy Cassidy’s book, Scarlett, first came out it had this cover –

Scarlett - original cover

Scarlett – original cover

Then it was re-issued some time later with this cover –

Scarlett - new cover

Scarlett – new cover

When I’m out at events I’m often asked how I choose the covers for my books. Well, the truth is, I don’t. That is, the author will be given a few covers to choose from, but we nearly never come up with the ideas ourselves. That’s for the publisher’s design team to do. They’re supposed to be the experts on how to choose a cover which reflects what the story is about, and attracts the right kind and age of reader to the book.

So when my first book was coming out, the first cover that was suggested to me was this one.

Mock up of first cover

Mock up of first cover

It’s not just the author who has a say in choosing which cover to use, there’s the author’s agent, the editor and the marketing people too. And they might all see it from different points of view. For example, the editor will be keen that it reflects the kind of story it is, whereas the marketing people might be more concerned about choosing a cover that appeals to as many readers as possible, and the author’s agent might want to make sure that her author’s book looks different from other authors’ books.

So the first Seriously Sassy cover idea was rejected. It was shown to some book sellers and they thought it looked too serious and not bright and girly enough. They also thought that ‘eco-babe’ might put some readers off, so that was dropped from the title.

My objection was mainly that I thought the girls in the image looked way too young. After all Sassy is 13 and a half!

So some of the elements were kept and they came up with this one.

How about pink then?

How about pink then?

But my agent felt that book shops were already overflowing with PINK book covers. So the colour was changed, and this new version was suggested.

The Final Version!

The Final Version!

Quite often the publisher will take the cover to a ‘focus group’, an group of readers who give their opinion. But time was getting tight by this point, the publication date was looming, decisions had to be made.

As a first-time author I felt I should let the experts make the final decision, but now, a few years on, I think I should have been more pushy. I’m really not sure that the cover matched Sassy’s non-girly, feisty approach to life. A bit less foil (that’s the green bit under my name might have been better. On the actual book it makes the name difficult to read.

So what do you think? Would you have chosen the first, less girly, version with ‘Eco-Babe’ in? Or the zingy pink version? Or do you think the final yellow one was just right?

I’d really love to know…

Maggi xxx

20 thoughts on “Covers – what makes you pick up THAT book?

  1. I would have liked the green one better. It looks so nice! I liked the original cover of scarlett better. That was the reason I got that book. Also,Karen Mccombie’s old and new Alley’s world and Stella Etc. series have changed a lot. They used to be snapshots and now they are some few images and the titles.

  2. Oooh, the whole cover drama – I know this one well! I love the green one – but with the older kids on the front. It pulls my in because it looks quirky and real. xx Love to you xx

  3. I quite like the yellow cover actually! To me, it’s the least girly of the three – probably why I like it the most! 😛 The only thing I really don’t like on book covers is a photograph of someone who is obviously supposed to be the main character. I find it always ruins the book for me because my interpretation of the character and the photo never match up, which is why I prefer illustrations.

    • I agree about the photo thing. What’s worse is when they put a girl with blonde hair, say, on the cover and on page 30 of the book you find out she’s dark-haired. Grrrr… I thought it was clever on the Seriously Sassy cover that you only see the back view drawings, and they’re very true to the descriptions in the book, but you’re left to imagine the girls’ faces for yourself. 🙂

  4. I love the first cover (but I do own the book, so the yellow one did work!) because it looks like Sassy might have drawn it – but I prefer the pic of the older girls. I think it works really well just having a back view of them, I like to make my own choices about how a character looks in my head. I am so very glad though, that they didn’t go with the pink one. Fab book though 🙂

  5. I think I liked the green one best if perhaps eco-babe was dropped from the title and it had the older girls on it. I like the yellow one too though, it works well. I am really glad that it isn’t the pink one, it doesn’t seem very like Sassy. I preferred the original Cathy Cassidy book covers too. A few of my friends even wrote to her asking if they could please, please, please be changed back. I agree that I hate when the book describes them completely different to the girl/boy on front cover. Loved your book anyway 🙂

  6. The pink one is way too girly, and I don’t like the green one – to me it looks cluttered and the green is a bit washed out and the whole ‘eco’ thing combined with the green background would have put me off. I personally think the yellow one is the best, it’s stylish and filled with personality and stands out. 😀

  7. Also before the red Scarlett cover there was a cover (hard cover I think) which had a tree. Also, some cathy Cassidy books (Dizzy, Indigo Blue and driftwood) had a different cover at first(first addition) which were only a bit different from the covers before the ones with the faces.

  8. Also the sentence on the red Scarlett cover said “If you don’t believe in dreams, will they still come true?” which made me persuaded to get it(from the school library). Now it says “Will wild child Scarlett ever settle down?”.

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