unless you happen to be buying one, that is.
I usually buy books based on their cover.
And I’m rarely disappointed.
Except for one time. I was ten years old.
The book was called My Darling, My Hamburger.
It was junk food alright.
Here's the book description from Amazon - apparently it's still available.
As senior year rolls around, two unlikely couples find themselves caught between desire and the fear of intimacy. Liz and Sean, misunderstood by their parents, confused but certain they are in love, have an affair that ends shatteringly. Maggie and Dennis, just as confused, take their first steps toward understanding the demands life makes on everyone. ....
You get the picture. It was a summer of discovery. And a period of alarm for my mother when she caught me reading it.
Strangely, I can't remember the cover at all....just the contents.
So here are my tips for choosing a book by its cover.
You have to let the book covers do the talking.
Once I would have chosen a book based solely on the colour of its cover.
Now that I am mature and more worldly, there are a few other elements that I look for.
First, the cover artwork can tell you a lot about the contents. Any images of bare chested Fabio characters or pouting, adoring, helpless females always indicates I am in the wrong section. Romance.
Then there are the images that are used over and over again. A smoking gun equates to a murder mystery. An empty bed with rumpled sheets usually means a literary novel with lots of sex. A smoking gun and an empty bed.... well you best email me if you want help understanding that one. Naked women adorn lots of books for lots of reasons. It could spell sexist rubbish or not. It's a tough call sometimes. If there’s a painting from an earlier era, it’s either a classic or an historic novel. If the date of publication and the year the novel are set more than 100 years apart, put it down and walk away. Historical novels are rarely done well. You need to know the author.
Some images which you should avoid are happy families (miserable looking families are perfect), birds, reptiles and angels. You should be okay with most animals especially fish and cows. Although I personally always avoid horses. If there are high heels and lipstick on the cover, its chick lit. These books always look the same. Pink is invariably a feature.
The best images to watch out for are shadowy male figures or beaches. Don’t ask me why. Or any images of Richard or George ...oops sorry, that’s the cover of my autobiography.
Second, another element to check is the font used for the book title and author. A flowery over the top font means either historical fiction or a romance. A clean, sharp font with a minimalist cover is usually trendy fiction. If the font used for the author is much larger than the title of the book, it’s probably written by someone who writes the same book over and over again well known, such as Grisham, Clancy, White, Keneally, le Carre and King. This just means that all you need to know is the author’s name because you sure as hell aren't going to get anything new and different. Just more of the same.
Third, look at the book description (more commonly known as the marketing spiel). The words used don’t always mean what they say. For example, twenty-something means annoying character who frets about her looks, men and clothes, over the hill means sexy, gorgeous, got it all together, (ok, well maybe I am making this bit up because I'm still recovering from my cosmetic buying episode), frothy means insubstantial, cappuccino making instructions or Lilly's blog, saga or epic means boring, too long and not edited properly or an indication that Baz Luhrmann is now writing novels, hilarious means you may laugh at least once but usually only once and dazzling – means nothing, nothing at all because it's a filler word used in every book description.
I am personally drawn to books with words like "magic", "makeover", "karma", “delicious,” “sexy,” “true life”, “devious”, "adventure", "passionate"........
Finally, we get to the author’s photo. Now I realise it shouldn’t really matter should it? However, while I believe it’s the least important element, the photo must match the overall book concept. If the book is a racy chick lit and you turn the book over and see a 100 year old author standing in a field of pansies in her gumboots with a cat in her arms then I would put the book down. A bit of leopard skin and red lipstick never hurt anyone, no matter how old you are. Then again, I prefer no photo at all because it's good to leave something to the imagination, right?
Anyway, the real reason I mention books is because I’m writing one. Yes, it’s true. I have been pushed and cajoled to do so. I know thousands of manuscripts sit on dusty shelves but hey why not? I'm writing a book about a particular dark time in my life that wasn’t at all funny. It's called Black Magic. And you can rest assured that I've already developed the cover concept. There is no Fabio, smoking guns, witches, rabbits, card tricks or even a Criss Angel to be seen. However, there are most definitely some shadowy male figures, lots of illusions and many slight of hand tricks. It's dark and it's autobiographical. And so ......so unlike Lilly.
I've been inspired over my first year of blogging by many passionate writers. I would like to recommend some of them to you (there are lots as we know) but these are the ones I've been following for a while (they are in no order). I'm sorry I didn't have time to show you their cover art. Perhaps next time.
Ugich Konitari - Gappa
Robin Easton - Naked in Eden Blog
Matt - Matt-Speak
Soul Merlin - Almanack (he has a few blogs that are all great reading)
Judi Moran - Zany Life + Crazy Faith
Christopher Williams - Christopher Williams Blog (again a few blogs including his novel and short stories- all great to read)Jon - the Ups, Downs and Sometimes Insane World of Freelance Writing
Eric - Ruminations of a Small Town Mountain Boy
Tasha - The Big Novel
June - Journeys in Creative Writing
Sylvia - Chasing Ashes
Tell me, what are you currently reading and/or what is the one book that you have been most affected by?
Oh...... and the winner of the last giveaway is Trish from the My Little Drummer Boys. Congratulations Trish, a mysterious parcel will be on its way to you soon.