I began to wonder – have I ever bought a book based solely on its cover? I don’t think I have. Even if I go into a book shop with no particular idea what I’m looking for, there are always lots of books in my mind that I would like to read because I’ve heard about them or read about them So those books are going to be the ones I consider, rather than something I know nothing about. But maybe I choose one of the books in my mind over another because I see it first – which could be a function of where it’s been placed in the shop and also whether the cover catches my eye.
But would I not choose to buy a book because I didn’t like the cover? I suppose, if I’m making a choice between a couple of books, I’m going to choose one that looks like it suits my mood, not one that seems too hard, too sad, too pretentious, too something else. And again, a lot of that is to do with the cover. I had a look at some of my favourite books on my shelf and Iwas quite surprised, none of them had a cover that I thought was particularly appealing; perhaps it doesn’t mater when your name is Margaret Atwood!
I suppose that’s the crux of it. I’m a new, unknown author; I’m asking people to spend their $30 buying my words instead of those of another more well-known and thus reliable author – or instead of a bottle of wine and a DVD! So all the elements of my book need to work hard to make people notice my book over and above the vampire trilogies and the Candace Bushnells and the Lionel Shrivers, and then pick it up and turn over the cover to the first page. Then it’s up to my words to make them want to keep turning the pages.
I decided to go with the cover that my publisher sent to me. It’s been haunting me – in a good way. I keep seeing it in my mind because it’s both strong and intriguing as well as open to interpretation. I’m also proud to have it be the face of my book, the face for my words, which is the most important thing.