The wrapping around the words

It’s that time again – finding the right book cover. I’d hate to be a book cover designer – imagine being at the mercy of authors like me who can’t articulate what it is they want their book cover to look like, but who know exactly what they don’t want when they see it. Anyway, after a bumpy start, I’m pretty sure we’re getting muh closer to finding a beautiful cover for If I Should Lose You, which of course I’ll reveal to you all as soon as I can.

I pondered the question of book covers a couple of years ago when we were doing the cover for What is Left Over, After. But this time the process got me thinking – what book covers do I really like? (apart from my own!)

I sifted through my bookshelves and came to the startling conclusion that there weren’t many covers I truly liked. So this either means that book covers don’t matter as much as I thought they did or that I’m incredibly fussy! I remember, for instance, going to buy Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, which is one of my favourite books. I hate the cover of that book. But that didn’t stop me buying it. It had won the Booker and been so highly recommended that covers just didn’t matter. Of course, I’m not Hilary Mantel and I have not won the Booker so my cover needs to work a little harder than hers.

Joan Didion’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking has a wonderful cover. The book is about her grief at the death of her husband. On the cover, the letters of her husband’s name, John, are picked out in gold. It’s a subtle and lovely tribute.

I’ve decided that perhaps when you’re the author, you want something that will hint at the story, lure readers in, show off the best bits of the book, stand out on the shelf, convey a mood, and promise to sweep you into the world beneath the cover. But how can a book cover do all those things?

So what do you think? Do book covers make a difference? And what book covers do you love (and loathe!)


  1. I think, if the book and author are new to the literary industry, the cover is very important. It’s the first thing a reader sees and is therefore what attracts someone to pluck it from a shelf of one thousand other books in the first place. However, if the book is a classic, is from an already famous author or has had an almighty build-up, the cover may not be the most pivotal aspect of its sales. Good luck!

    • Thanks! And I agree – if I was Tim Winton, people would by my book on my name alone. As I am only the relatively unknown Natasha Lester, I really need a great cover. And I think I’ve almost got one. I shall post it up on the blog soon! Let me know what you think when I do.

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