The feedback I received prior to my post was anyone who had seen the Hometown cover said they would buy it because of the cover alone. They were not so sure about Next Life, and this threw me into a temporary period of self-doubt.
I love the mock cover for Hometown.
I think it fits the tone of the novel perfectly. It is visually striking and the taglines give just enough away to draw the reader in. Yet Hometown is nothing more than an idea. There is a rudimentary plot; nothing more. Furthermore, which genre would it fit into - science fiction? Horror? Thriller? On what bookshelf would it sit in a book store?
Next Life is the first in a trilogy. It is fully plotted. I know where it will end, where the seconds novel begins, and how the trilogy will end. I know its genre - young adult dystopian. I know where I would find it in a book store. Yet I have struggled to find any image that could serve as a cover. The best I could find is the one I ended up with, and I'm not at all happy with it.
I was seriously considering scrapping Next Life and starting on Hometown because of the cover alone, and had to give myself a reality check. I asked myself which one I was more passionate about? Which one I knew the plot of inside and out? Which book I can not stop thinking about? The answer was Next Life. But this brief moment of uncertainty did start me thinking about just how important a cover is for drawing the readers attention.
The feedback I received from my question - if you saw these two books in a store or online, which one would you buy and why? - was more or less what I expected. More people were drawn to Hometown because of its striking cover. The taglines hooked the reader. Next Life was not so attention grabbing. It didn't shout science fiction. However, more people liked the cover than I thought would. They seemed intrigued by the premise and tagline. Of course it is worth pointing out that a lot of these opinions would have been based on the individual's reading preferences - given a choice between a period drama or horror novel, I'd choose horror no matter how good the period drama's cover.
Nevertheless, I gained a lot of insight from the comments. What I have learned is this:
- The cover image must fit within the chosen genre to hook your reader or be so good it will even appeal to a reader outside of your chosen genre.
- A tagline can be as important as the cover image.
- Even a mock cover can turn readers away.
Given everything I've said and experienced over the last week, do you think aspiring writers should create mock covers? Can they do more damage than they are worth? Is it better to wait until they are revealing the cover? Is there anything I've said you don't agree with? As always, I would love to read your thoughts.