Judging a book by its [not] cover

27 Jan
The cover I didn't choose

The cover I didn’t choose, (c) 2014 All Rights Reserved

It is, perhaps, a standard joke for writers that the saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t seem to apply to books when it comes to buyers.

I know when I am in a book store, a book’s title is probably the first thing that attracts my attention, followed closely by the cover design. If intrigued, I’ll look at the back cover and possibly the inner covers. If further interested, I might look at the table of contents or perhaps a sample of the writing. The cover design certainly plays an important part in attracting a reader’s interest.

My FriesenPress.com “All Inclusive” packageย came with two cover designs. This one above was the more conventional of the two. It is clean, straightforward, attractive, and professional looking. Perhaps it is a bit boring, perhaps not.

I do like the reflection of the title into the back cover, as I think this is a clever visual device.

The other option was based on some suggestions for symbolism that I forwarded for the cover designer to consider. I am not going to show this just yet. It is more intriguing, more symbolic, and sinister. Like a haunted house, it seems to mysteriously beacon to the reader to enter it.

In my unscientific poll of the statistically too small sample size of four people, it was a 50-50 split between the two cover designs. I had thought about doing a post where the readers might vote as to which design they preferred, but my gut strongly said to go with the other design.

So, for those interested, here are three easy questions:

1. What are your thoughts on the above pictured cover design that I decided against?

2. When is the “right time” to do a cover reveal in the publishing process?

3. Is there interest in a post with both cover designs, where commenters could vote and comment as to which they liked better and why?

*Please note that I will be out of town from 28-30 January*

53 Responses to “Judging a book by its [not] cover”

  1. Carol Balawyder January 27, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    1) The visual device is clever but I at first found it a bit off balance.
    2) I’m not sure about this. Probably close to when the book is about to come out.
    3) Maybe but then you have to have a large sample. And if you had 50-50 you’re back at square one so I think you have to go with what you like, what you think will attract readers.

    • navigator1965 January 27, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

      Thanks, Carol. Now that your mention it, it is off balance. Good pickup.

      Yes, trust your instincts.

  2. KG January 27, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    I liked the idea, as you had mentioned about the Mirror Image and all, but isn’t the red a little too ‘red’ ๐Ÿ™‚

    • navigator1965 January 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

      Yes, there’s something not right about that shade of red, that’s for certain.

  3. LindaGHill January 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    1. I think the cover you didn’t choose is kind of stark – it jumps out at you and yet it’s plain enough to suggest “textbook.” I don’t think I’d be attracted to it on a shelf at all.

    2. Sent out for advice. Will let you know soonest.

    3. Wouldn’t having a vote at this point not only be moot, but ruin the “big reveal”?

    • LindaGHill January 27, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

      That was quick!

      2. This was my advice, from Charles Yallowitz “I would try for a week beforehand and do a few posts leading up to it. I think at least give 3 days for news to spread from reveal to debut.”

    • navigator1965 January 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

      Textbook = boring. Tend to agree with you here. It’s a bit of a bland blah cover.

  4. Bradley January 27, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    I love everything about it except, as KG said, the red is too red

    • navigator1965 January 27, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

      Excellent! Bradley, you are of the other 50%. We’ll definitely have to compare notes after I post the other one. It will be interesting to see which you prefer. Cheers.

  5. Jenna Rambles January 27, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    I think it’s lovely!

    • navigator1965 January 28, 2014 at 7:55 am #

      Thanks, JR. I’m interest in what you’ll have to say in a side-by-side comparison.

  6. Gede Prama January 27, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

    Thank you for sharing and greetings ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    • navigator1965 January 28, 2014 at 7:55 am #

      Greetings, Gede. Thank you for your kind comment.

  7. mewhoami January 28, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    1. Personally, I think the cover is too plain. It’s not something that would jump out at me.
    2. I have no idea.
    3. I think that instead of presenting a poll, you should go with your own instincts. If it feels good to you, then that’s the one to choose.

    • navigator1965 January 28, 2014 at 7:57 am #

      Your response appears to be closet to mine. It’s not that the cover is bad per se, but that it but didn’t grab me.

  8. Inion N. Mathair January 28, 2014 at 1:15 am #

    This is hard Nav. As you know we have a deep love for anything dark or haunting which you say the other has. Not to mention we love any type of symbols. Symbolic & Sinister~ we like the sound of that! We would have to disagree with the other commenters though, as we find this cover to be brilliant! Matter of fact, this would be, what I would view in a bookstore, as a serious book, shelved among the other brilliant literary Nonfiction pieces. Perhaps written by an expert on something. It has that look to it! I love the flipped words as if it’s in a mirror which adds to the title. This is terribly hard. I think you should totally go for a vote from your friends. It’s like our mentor told us. If one reader has an opinion about your book, you have to take it into consideration that others will feel that way. So if most of your friends go for one choice, it might be the voice of the people and as such, your best choice. As for cover releases. There are many articles written on this. “COVER REVEALS.” We’ve heard that you don’t want to rush it where the cover reveal has little to no play. But you also don’t want to wait a long time. The idea being get the people hungry for your book then launch! Either way, you know you have two Irish lady friends, ready to read!! Good luck with your choice Nav! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • navigator1965 January 28, 2014 at 8:06 am #


      Thanks for such an informative reply to the post. Yours is one of the two strongest responses to this cover. The other comes from a very prestigious interior designer here in Ottawa, and she has seen both covers. She prefers this one.

      Interesting points that you raise. I could have done a blog poll, and if it was heavily skewed towards this design, then I could have seen the writing on the wall in terms of people’s preferences. At a notional 50-50 split in preference, I am happy to pick the one that I prefer.

      I think I might stick with my instinct, given that I am hopefully with two months of the book launch. Still, I could do a post with both and have a poll, just to confirm what my initial inquiries revealed: a 50-50 split in preferences.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  9. vicbriggs January 28, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    I’m curious to see it ๐Ÿ™‚

    • navigator1965 January 29, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

      I suppose that’s a good thing from a writer’s perspective. I’m interested to see what you and the others will think of the accepted cover design v. the rejected cover design.

      Thanks for the kind input, Vic.

      • vicbriggs January 30, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

        Will take a peek and late you know ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Lisamaree January 28, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    I like the simplicity of concept for this cover, but I probably wouldn’t be hooked by it up against other books at a store. Look forward to seeing the one you chose to compare with when the time times.

    • navigator1965 January 29, 2014 at 10:01 pm #


      I almost missed this, as it got quarantined in my “approve” queue. Appreciate your taking the time to comment.


  11. idiotwriter January 29, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    I am not going to get too involved here – but ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I like the stark aspect. But if we are going red – HIGH gloss on both white and red(though a more scarlet effect)I cant help imagining a pair of sultry lips with a slight trace of blood – just off to one side (right)below the title. THAT is if we are doing red. I also have this thing in my head that it should be reflective as a mirror – hmmm – I SOOO want to go play around with effects now!!! Oh dear.
    Book reveal/release: Not your girl – you have some pros on the job already here ๐Ÿ˜€ (though I am thinking don’t play TOO much) ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • navigator1965 January 29, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

      Ah, Belinda. You’ve gone and made me smile. Again.

      I do agree with you on the high gloss and the scarlet aspect to the red. I’ll pass that along to my friesenpress.com account manager.

      She likes me because I am an eccentric writer. };-)>

      • idiotwriter January 29, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

        Splendidly spiffing stuff what!
        Do you have all your teeth still? cos that would be awkward if you smiled so much that your dentures fell out..you know…

      • idiotwriter January 29, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

        psst – check for a brief mail (in case it got swallowed) ‘k? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • barbarafranken January 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

      i definitely agree with high gloss and scarlet red… Barbara

      • navigator1965 January 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

        Thanks, Barbara. Always a pleasure seeing you here, and the opinion is appreciated.

  12. Mich-in-French January 29, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Hey Nav – here are my thoughts but I am no expert and sometimes too much advice is just so damn confusing that you end up right at the beginning and lose all sense of confidence and direction…so I do want to say you need to maybe get advice from a handful of people who your trust and have some serious insight into all of this and then saying that…;) here are my thoughts:

    1) I like the cover and the reflection – maybe it’s the font that needs to be more relaxed and reflective and I agree on using a warmer red.

    2) & 3) do yoga stretches twice daily to get rid of all the stress that it takes to figure it out – all I can say on these is do it wearing lycra pants and eating chocolate – if you can’t figure it out at least you’ll be limber and euphoric!

    Am still busy reading – between teenagers, my job and trying to stay sane – I am loving it…just trying to find a few minutes to hide away and read….no-one gives me 5 min alone these days – even y dog insists on joining me when I need to squeeze the kidneys!

    • navigator1965 January 29, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

      Ah, Mich. You and Belinda are quite the pair of sweethearts, bless you both. Take all the time in the world with the book, no worries. Glad you’re enjoying it so far.

      I am out of town on temporary duty, but obviously I’ll have to write the next yogateria chronicles instalment as soon as I get back.

      Thank you for your thoughts, which are ALWAYS welcome, on the cover design. I’ll refrain from responding until you’ve seen the actual cover design. (Did I send it to you?)

      • Mich-in-French January 30, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

        Well Nav – you have captured our hearts…such a charming spandex yoga navigator as yourself. Can you send it …am not sure I did see the cover…
        I look forward to the next chronicles of the the traveling yoga pants

      • idiotwriter January 31, 2014 at 4:45 am #

        Da SistaHOOD ๐Ÿ˜€ I think Mich can vouch for the fact that both her and I have a bit of lioness under the sweet faรงade The Taming of the Shrew springs forth upon my tongue – which over the years has gotten used to injuring itself through biting – instead of injuring others. Which I think is an improvement I think we are allowed to be proud of :D. …and then came blogging….ho hum…

    • idiotwriter January 31, 2014 at 4:41 am #

      LMAO! I haven’t heard that one in a while ‘Squeeze the kidneys’.
      You are the epitome of a true lady dear Michelle : – Most of us tarts would say ‘take a pee/p**’ ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Hope it settles soon – it really is worth the read my dear ~

      • Mich-in-French February 1, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

        ๐Ÿ˜‰ hehe censorship is a must at times hey

      • navigator1965 February 1, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

        Are you two behaving yourselves? }:-o>

        • idiotwriter February 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm #


        • navigator1965 February 1, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

          Time out, young lady! }:-)>

  13. Susan Lattwein January 30, 2014 at 2:43 am #

    You’re getting a lot of feedback, so that’s good. Can we see both covers and vote?

    • navigator1965 January 30, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

      Hi Susan,

      But of course! I think I’ll wait until about a week before the book comes out before doing it. I should see the corrected galley proofs early next week, so hopefully I can turn this around in a week.

      Yes, the feedback is wonderful. I’ve fallen in with a great crowd here at WordPress.


  14. Jami January 31, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    A little late, and I’m just going to answer to 1): I think this looks really professional and almost like a text book, but I would be curious to see the other cover. I love cover art, almost as much as the book sometimes :P, and I think a lot of people are enticed by that. That being said, perhaps this is neutral and you just want to leave the imagination bit to the reader entirely. I don’t think I added anything you haven’t already heard, but here’s my two cent’s worth anyway!

    • navigator1965 January 31, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

      That made me laugh a bit. Your two cents’ worth is always valued here!

      Cheers & }:-p>

  15. Sherri February 1, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    For what it’s worth:
    1. Don’t like it, personally, it looks to ‘texty’ so can’t wait to see the other one;
    2. Have no idea (not much help am I, sorry about that…)
    3. I think it would be a great idea to have a ‘voting’ post.
    Hope this helps ๐Ÿ™‚

    • navigator1965 February 1, 2014 at 3:36 pm #


      Your opinions always have worth here. I appreciate the feedback. Oh, check your inbox.

  16. yakinamac February 3, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

    On 1) yeah, looks like a text book. And you almost lose the subtitle, which is the intriguing bit. 2) No idea – sorry. 3) Yes, yes, please let us vote! I’m assuming you’re going to ignore the result, which is as it should be – but I do love a good… (now trying and failing to think of another word for “poll” having spotted the unfortunate pun in the nick of time. Anyway, you know what I mean.)

    • navigator1965 February 3, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

      Now that my coughing fit of laughter has ended, permit me to express my thanks for your kind comment.

      We’ll certainly all enjoy a good… survey of opinions, when the time arises.

      • yakinamac February 4, 2014 at 6:10 am #

        Survey! Nice catch.

        • navigator1965 February 4, 2014 at 9:11 am #

          Those comedies of Shakespeare do seem to have sharpened some of my skills, even to this day.

  17. KraftedKhaos March 12, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Okay, I’ve read too many words since reading your questions to remember what they were, exactly, and it’s too much effort to scroll all the way back up and back down, only to surely forget again, so I’ll just wing it.

    That cover is classy.

    It’s understated.

    It’s boring.

    From what I can understand, your book is going to be none of those things, so why advertise it as such?

    Myself? This is not a cover that would entice me to investigate a book any further than moving it to see what’s behind it. Unless it was in the bargain bin, in which case I would perhaps give it a cursory glance. I would consider my comments harsh, especially if I thought you had designed it yourself, but they’re honest (and the only reason I said them is because I don’t think you designed it, lol).

    Even without having seen the other cover, I’d veto this one.

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