How much do you get to control when you’re self-publishing? And how much do you stick to in terms of “industry standards” because they are good/established marketing even if you don’t agree with? Book length, fonts, cover type,”purity” of tropes, PG rating etc? Do you always listen to your agent or pub team if they feel strongly that you should/shouldn’t do something?
We control everything. The editing, the cover, the format, the distribution, everything. The power is maddening. Muhahahahaha!
Oy. To tell you the truth, yes, we do control everything, but human factor is a big thing. Sometimes you commission a cover and explain things in great detail, and what the artist creates doesn’t match your expectations. You request edits, and they do the edits, but it’s still not right. With self-publishing, just like with traditional publishing, there are deadlines, so you do the best you can to keep the book on schedule and you say things like, “Just make his hair look half-way decent.” Control ain’t all it cracked up to be.
But back to the question, industry standards evolved for a reason. Some of them are slightly more arbitrary, like length of the manuscript, but most of them exist because readers like them or they help sell the book. Common fonts make the book more readable.
Cover type helps the readers identify the genre of the book. Let’s do a quick quiz.
How did you do? Sometimes covers are a bit ambiguous. Mystery can easily look like Horror. Romance sometimes has a flower on the cover and nothing else. But readers become conditioned to recognize the type of cover over time, and it helps them to zero in on the type of books they usually enjoy.
Genre tropes, just like covers, help the reader select their favorite type of story. Romance genre is defined by Happily Ever After, or, in case of serial romance, Happily For Now. Break that trope and romance readers will scream blood murder. Mystery is defined by an incident of a shocking crime. It doesn’t have to be gory, but it has to be emotionally devastating to somebody, otherwise nobody cares if it gets solved.
The PG/R rating is a bit more nuanced. It depends heavily on who your audience is. We stick to lower R/higher end of PG for the Innkeeper, because it is posted online. Most parents curate books for their children. If you are buying the book or borrowing it from the library, you are making a choice to read it and therefore consent to whatever level of heat or violence it contains. We realized that a lot of relatively young kids read Innkeeper on our website, with or without parental permission, so we are a bit more mindful of the narrative.
On other hand, those of you who read IRON AND MAGIC, another self-published book, know it is not PG.
We do always take our agent’s advice into consideration. It carries a lot of weight, because we trust her and we’ve seen her prove to be right in many cases over our years at the agency. But ultimately, we are the clients, and there were times when we said, “We can’t do this” or “We feel better doing it this way.” It has never created a conflict, because ultimately all of us want for the book to succeed and find its audience.
To summarize: industry standards are standards for a reason. It’s good to break through them and do something unexpected once in a while, but it should always be done with a clear understanding of the potential risk. Learn the rules first, and they go smashing. 🙂
Great insight! I just advised my Uncle on a cover for a book of poems/short stories and I, unwittingly, used a lot of this advice. Good to know that I was right on:)
I do sometimes pick up a book based on the cover or pass a book over because of a cover as well. I don’t know that readers realize how important that cover is to them on a conscious level.
Fascinating information and great insight!!
And 6/6, surprised myself!
5 outta 6 on the covers – what can I say, it was a long day 😉
But yes, conventions can help and they can hinder. Bit of a mixed bag, like with all conventional conventions ^_^
I got the same, but I cheated on 2 or 3 because I’ve read the books or others in the series so I knew what they were categorized as.
same – I had read a few to know the type
The only one I missed was the only one I had read, go figure!
Wheee! That was tons of fun. I admit to judging books by the cover. They are advertising what the book is about.
As a librarian, I do and I see patrons do it!
Thanks. Have a great day.
Lol, that was interesting – Naomi Novik’s Uprooted is the one book out of that list which I have read … and also was the question I got wrong. I had to go and look up what the correct category actually meant, even though I read a great many books in that genre, and really ought to know better 😀
Speaking of fonts, one thing that drives me nuts is authors who put vast screeds of text in italics – such as the entire prologue. It’s an issue you often see in self-published e-books.
6 for 6. I think I must read too much ????
Thanks for the information and insights.
Same for me. I know I read to much! I look by cover so I know what’s out there!
Same here. The irony is that I haven’t read any of those particular books, and only slightly knew about Gina Showalter.
There is no such thing!
Lisa Bragdon says
Same???? there are worse habits to have ????
6/6 Probably because I am old and also because I read a lot of all the genres listed
6/6, though the first one almost had me picking high fantasy over sword and sorcery. Very good point about tropes. Some are tiresome, and I hope we can move past them, but so many exist for a reason.
Me too. I debated a bit on the first one. ????
Not sure how I missed the definition the first time. ????♀️. Guess I was too excited to take the quiz. ????
Yeah, tropes. I like to be surprised, but it’s pretty clear that lots of readers hate it when they can’t figure out in advance what’s going to happen.
Sometimes your just in the mood for a certain type. You may be looking for a contrast from a previous book. After reading Dorothy Dunnett, Roberta Gillis etc, I need to come down from the heights. I decided a long time ago it wasn’t fair to an author of similar style to read them straight after. I need to cleanse my pallet so to speak so choose something that is a different style both in type of writing and subject. Pratchett is always a great choice.
I got 6 out of 6. Obviously, I read a LOT of these books. ☺️. And love your books especially.
6 out or 6!!! Wheeee!!
(Helps that I am an avid reader of most of the genres…LOL — I admit guessing on one of them hehehe).
Thanks for the explanation — mind if I use it as an example while teaching marketing class?
Thank you for all you do! It is great getting insight into the business side of things.
It was fun
Jenn D. says
100% on the quiz … I feel oddly proud, lol. I read a ton but since I read almost exclusively on my Kindle, I don’t usually even see the covers other than when I buy the book. Covers meant a lot more to me when I shopped at book stores. Now it’s all about the summary and a little about the reviews.
Kim Stewart says
Right? That’s one of the few drawbacks of my Kindle. Half the time I don’t even know what they look like, at least not in color.
I figure missing out on the cover browsing is evened out by the “you might also like” algorithm. It’s like my own librarian, but without having to people
Amy McDonald says
5 out of 6, not too bad! Some of the books on here I have read lol. But I see what you mean. This was an interesting bit of information, thank you! But I will always read anything you guys write, no matter what it is labeled!! You are my favorite!!
6 out 6. I know my covers and genres. Also a librarian and bookstore lover!
Patricia Schlorke says
When I read the post title I thought “He-man lives!” For those of you who don’t know He-man, that was a cartoon in the 1980s. When the main character changed from Prince Adam to He-man, Prince Adam would always say “I have the power!” 😀
For me book covers use to have more of a pull when I would have an actual book in my hands. Now, with my Nook, I read the excerpt of the book that I might be interested in and pretty much ignore the cover. The exceptions are when I have read an author’s book before (like you Ilona and Gordon, Nalini Singh, etc.). Then I take a look at the cover.
You guys just have so much knowledge. If you ever decide to write a book on the writing process, I will be first in line to buy haha
I seem to remember reading a series that after a few books , the font changed. It freaked me out. I keep thinking what is wrong?? Finally figured it out.
And I will probably buy a book with a lousy cover if I really like the author.
I bought Bitten by Kelley Armstrong because I loved the cover. Had no idea it was about werewolves.
Not a hint of paranormal on the cover.
The first JDROBB books had weird covers. Bought them because I like mysteries.
Donna Andrews has great cozy mysteries.Most of her books have birds in the titles and covers. Starting with Murder with Puffins.
You can spot her books immediately.
So covers and fonts are important.
I love both the Iron and Magic and Blood Heir covers.
I remember you posting pictures of the models for Hugh and Elara, and Elara’s dress. It was so exciting !
Now you posted a portrait of the Baylor’s. I felt so happy. I was nodding with pleasure seeing the sisters. With Easter eggs !!
I even remember that Chip Kidd did Micheal Crichton cover for Jurassic park. Iconic book cover.
The writing is paramount , but covers and fonts and maps help or hinder.
I LOVE maps! ☺
+1 Maps add so much to my understanding of what’s going on, especially if it’s some alternate universe where I have no idea where anything is. It doesn’t matter so much for things like Kate Daniels, where they can say such and such is north of this highway, and I can visualize my own map. But for something like Tamora Pierce’s Tortall, the map is my friend.
I always look at the covers, so one of my pet peeves is when covers of books I have read are changed to remarket the books, or because the author has changed publishers. So frustrating because then I have to ask myself, have I already read this book, or do I own it already?????
Whee, I got 6/6 ????????????
Woo! I scored 6 out of 6 right! That was a fun quiz. It took me back to me picking out mystery novels for my mom at the book mobile before I was a good reader. I knew which pictures would appeal to her. Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie in that genre’s, plus Isaac Asimov and Anne McCaffrey. Thanks for the insight!
Having the book mobile come to my house over summer vacation is one of my best childhood memories. Thanks for sharing your sweet memory!
I got the Devon Monk cover wrong twice and right once… I clicked 3 genres because they all fit. I enjoyed that I’ve read half these books.
Great breakdown for the decision making process and how you deal with having so much power.
6/6, woot! Doesn’t hurt that I know my covers in my favorite genres, which made guessing the others easy. When I’m looking for new authors and/or series to read, or even just books at the library browsing through the shelves, oftentimes my choice of whether or not to check them out are determined by two things. The cover, and reading the synopsis. If either of those is “meh” at the time, I won’t get it.
And your point about fonts is well made also, because my head started to hurt just trying to read that one paragraph. I can’t imagine trying to get through an entire book of that.
Great covers, thank you for the notice about the new Jack Campbell!
I got six, though two were because I recognized the names of the author. The first took me longer than the remaining five, because after the first I just winged it.
Thank you for sharing your publishing industry knowledge! AND THE QUIZ IS FUN!
WooHoo 6/6. Though I think I cheated a little as I am familiar with 3 of the books.
6/6 but I read many books in these genres.As a teacher I’ve had to read stories in some weird fonts-gave me a headache.
I will admit that certain book covers have lured me into reading books I might not have chosen. Some are so pretty. I used to get upset when the characters on the cover didn’t look anything like the characters in the book.
I got 6/6 on the cover quiz. I’m kind of surprised I did so well. I do have one pet peeve with Romance/Paranormal covers. The style of cover that shows only the sexy torso of a guy but cuts off their heads. I don’t like headless pictures . Those bother me and I try to avoid them unless it’s a series or author I already know and like.
Susie Q. says
Those covers bother me and amuse me for the same reason. They objectify men as sex objects. I would find the covers extremely offensive if it were being done to a woman. This may be biased, but I expect more from women.
I also find it a little amusing when I think of the reaction of a man to these types of covers. I’d like to show them what it’s like when your value is based on your sex appeal. I also like the idea of men being confronted by comparison with an impossible to achieve appearance. How often have you heard some unattractive guy with a pot belly and thinning hair complaining about a woman letting herself go when they gain some weight as they get older, especially after having the jerk’s child.
I showed these covers to a male co-worker whom I didn’t like. He was very judgemental of others, and although he was attractive compared to the average guy, he was couldn’t compete with these headless hunks. He was appalled, especially by the idea that women were looking at men the way he looked at women.
I find the covers of headless hunks with heads or headless amusing for the same reasons. However, I’ve always thought a deliberate move was made to headless because so many women prefer to have their own mental image of the face/facial features and that the industry may have considered this in their cover styling. My personal preference is to see the face because I know my fav self published authors DO put that much effort into cover design and thinking about how their characters are envisioned. On the other hand, I have no problem admitting I equally objectify beautiful people regardless of gender, beauty is beauty and a pleasure to see. It helps that we now have broader genres that include more body and personal types, too. Though, the new mid-life genre kills me when I see so many female characters on the cusp of or very early 40’s and talking about menopause and aches and pains. I didn’t get any of that till my 50’s and none of the aches and pains till my 60’s, and not too many thank goodness. So I wonder if our own gender considers a 40’s gal as really that old? And a 60’s gal as truly crone-like? I’m glad to see genres expanding but not exactly comfortable if they are imposing new stereotypes of women aging. I sure don’t believe in those stereotypes!
I love that you did that! ????????????
Susie Q. says
That makes sense. I’d rather make up my own face that get stuck with a standard handsome face that doesn’t match the character description at all. I do enjoy the Shelly Laurnenston covers. Attractive men who match the characters who have personality not just pecs. Especially Shen for the honey badgers trilogy. Her characters are such, well characters, especially the honey badgers that they are on my reread list for laughs, action and a little romance, albeit a bit graphic for my taste at times. That is why you skip a few pages sometimes.
Finally got my first vaccine shot. Went yesterday, got lost, got frustrated and then ended up with a pretty bad asthma attack. I did make it to the door, but could barely talk. By the time I was breathing normally, the vaccine clinic had closed. They signed my ticket yesterday saying to admit me today so I didn’t have to register online and wait again..
I splurged on a taxi ride both ways today to save on frustration. I told the nice policeman that I would need a wheelchair and someone to push it. The clinic was at Globe Field in Arlington, the new baseball stadium. The wheel chair pushers were firemen, followed by navy and ended up with a very nice marine. A polite and nice and very good looking bunch. I ended up having a nice chat about books with yesterday’s paramedics, and ended up with a new reader for House Andrews. She was a science fiction reader and liked the idea of strong female characters with a sense of humor. I hooked her with a description of the ferret badger invasion team, and Rogan calling immediately to critter proof the dryer vents.
I got the first one wrong. It was the only cover that didn’t shout out it’s genre to me.
I read a romance novel once where in the endthe couple split up, I didn’t like it. It just wasn’t the happy ending I expected and was in the mood for (and no it was not part of a series)
Sara B. says
6 for 6 … but I also had to think about 1st book, and changed my answer before getting my score — at first I was saying military sf (hey, Arland uses a sword and a spaceship …), but thought about it and changed answer. This was fun and interesting.
Well, I got all six correct. I guess that means I read way too much, heh. I had never really consciously thought about book covers, per se, as defining the genre. I enjoy a good looking cover, but I really do read the blurb (bookstore decision)and frequently quite a few reviews (online decision) in order to decide if I’m interested enough to buy it. This was fun and interesting, thanks!
Colleen Champagne says
6/6 but I read a lot of all the list genres. Covers are less important to me since I started reading e-books but they still need to tell the story of what’s inside.
Heather McHugh says
I got them all. It does help that I’ve actually read a few of them or more accurately 5 out of 6 of them.
I got 6/6 right!
I am deeply biased by covers at first when looking for new books if I don’t know the author. And then I read the summary and some reviews to understand if it might be interesting!
Instead I immediately check the summary if I recognize an author that I know and whose book(s) I enjoyed, without looking at the cover too much. In some special cases I read every new book written by the author (like IA ????), because I am certain it will be great!
The first KD novel was propost to me by audible again and again but I didn’t listen to it, because I didn’t like the cover. Luckily I gave finally in and have listened to or read all your books.
Maria Z says
Me too, the early covers didn’t impress, the redone ones are better.
Ha! 6 out of 6 on my first try!
Interesting. I got 50% because I made either/or choices on half of them but one was right.
A Dime a demon = paranormal romance/urban fantasy
Uprooted = high fantasy/sword & sorcery
Sworn in steel = sword & sorcery/high fantasy
Back when I used to find new authors by browsing book covers at the library in sections I was interested in, this mattered a lot. Until I realized that short story compilations were a great way to get a taste of an author’s style before committing to a whole book. And now there is the internet …
I would like to say that I love the Blood Heir cover! All of the artwork that Luisa (spelling?) has done for you is gorgeous and I hope that you’re able (and happy with) to use her for your future books. Or at least, the self-published ones that you have control over. ????????????
I went 6 for 6 – but I recognized 4 of the 6 authors and would have labelled the Mystery / PI book as horror if it had been a choice. I feel like I had a cheat code for the quiz…
I have a problem reading the covers on Amazon if the font for the the title / author is too thin, especially if it’s superimposed on a busy background. Lovely swirling letters in gold do not translate well to the screen, even though the tablet I usually read on gives me color.
The “thumbnails” Amazon shows you are small and my screen is not enormous. (Shopping happens on a 15 inch laptop.) I feel stupid when I have to click on something to even figure out what it is.
And forget about reading the author’s name to shop by previous choices.
At least you can say “Not orange” now and make it stick!
Marie S says
Hah! Not good. I had one correct answer. ????????
Judy Schultheis says
5 of 6. I’ve been reading this stuff since I was 10; come the first week in May, it will be 58 years.
I know a couple of other authors who self-publish. You explain the process much more clearly than they do; but that may be because you have been writing longer.
I do hope your next is out soon. I tend to get kind of antsy when there is no news, and really excited when I hear something is going to be released on a specific date.
Yes, I know. But at least reading is a relatively cheap addiction.
Not related to the post. But I started watching a new chinese historical drama called “The Sword and the Brocade”. I think you’ll like it, it reminds me a lot of “The Story of Minglan”.
Amy R. says
Don’t break the rules til you know which ones are worth breaking. 😉
OMG! 6 /6 in 59 seconds hehe my nerdism is showing off
Hahaha ! 5/6 The one I got wrong was the one book of the group that I have read. ????
Patricia B. says
6/6 🙂 Yeah, lots of reading. I’m very fussy about covers. Always sad when a series changes a cover style that I have enjoyed. Yes, people notice, and not always happily!
I’ve also shifted to mostly Kindle (especially this past year) but covers still matter, unless its an author I like and would buy regardless.
One thing that drives me crazy on Kindle is when the cover changes when there is an update to the book (An Eve L’Anglais series & a Tawna Fenske series come to mind).
I guess I am too old and set in my ways – I like things to look how I expect them to.
I remember buying Tamora Pierce’s earlier series’ for my nieces partly because the covers were perfect for the subject matter. Later the new editions (Paige, Squire etc) shocked me. I never would have picked them up. That would have been unfortunate.
Damn, I miss browsing bookstores 🙁
All that said, I love all your covers. Yay Catalina & Alessandro! Still miss the original model for Kate.
I don’t like it when they change the cover to show the people in the tv show or movie, if it’s been made into one. I understand why (boost sales), but I don’t like it. Usually they take too much license with the looks of the character for the shows.
Patricia B. says
Absolutely agree! Forgot that in the list above 🙂
4 of 6…funny I switch the two, both I would have looked closer at. So I guess I never placed them in separate categories, Sword and Sorcery and High fantasy. My bad should have read definition of each.
Hit take quiz and part vanish so missed it
I got 4 of 6. I have a friend who buys only by the cover. I hardly ever look at the cover, I look for authors. That said, the title of Magic Bites was what caught my attention when I was browsing in the bookstore years ago. I loved it and shared it with my sisters, who had the same reaction. I sent it to a friend who was working overseas. She was hooked too.
Also read some books from a few of those authors before though ????
NANCY HASBACH says
I got 6 of 6 but I have been reading for 65 years. The first time I went to a school that had a real library (junior high) I was in heaven. Started at A and worked my way through no matter what genre. My elementary school only had a single book shelf per grade.
Lynn Thompson says
Been there. Did that too. Taught myself Latin so I could read that section too. I was a geek.
Maria Z says
I do have a problem with covers of books as they don’t always really reflect the story. I must say when I used to go to the book store I would read the back cover blurb and then the inside cover blurb. Now at times those blurbs again didn’t really give a good idea of what the story was about. I know I picked up Magic Bleeds up multiple times and put the book back on the shelf and walked away because at the time there were a lot of fantasy books with super bad ass female leads that were just too confident, too good at their jobs, arrogant, basically female versions of the super bad ass dude that beats up the bad guy and has sex with hundreds of women as if it was nothing and those cover blurbs were indicating that Kate was like that and I didn’t want to read about that character. Just like I didn’t want to read a romance novel about a super beautiful girl, with great boobs, great body, great hair, rich, with hundreds of guys competing for her attention. I can’t relate to such a creature. I like to read about flawed imperfect characters.
Even after I bought Magic Bleeds after seeing in the bookstore for about 3 years, it still sat in my to be read pile for a while. I picked it up and started it about two times and still couldn’t get over the super badassness of Kate. On the third try I managed to get past the scenes were Jim abandoned Kate in the middle of a gig and was hooked. Here, Kitty, Kitty was the kicker that hooked me on the series.
A book cover is like an artistic ‘elevator pitch’ – in addition to the industry standards, the artist also has limited space and tight deadlines, as well as sometimes very vague idea about the protagonist. Ideally, they would read at least some excerpts from this book. Realistically, it doesn’t always happen…
Artistic styles and talents aside, it’s a challenge for the artist to show a deep and interesting character (like Kate) on the cover that would both attract the audience and convey some relevant info about the contents.
Personally, I think Luisa Preissler creates breathtaking art – if I saw her render of Kate on the cover right now, I would download a sample on my Kindle and read it right away. No offense meant to the previous artist, but the old cover would not attract me as much – judging by the model’s looks and amount of cleavage, I would assume it’s another Mary Sue story and either skip the book or add to my ‘if-I-ever-break-a-leg’ list and forget about it for a while.
I have to admit, I also own a few books with covers created by one of my favorite digital artists Charlie Bowater. No idea what the books are about, I just wanted to support the author and the artist – and I haven’t broken a leg recently 🙂
Weee 6 out of 6. But only with the explanation about sword+sorcery /high fantasy.
How cool is it that prior book series that were all created for adults get young readers for the Inkeeper series? Do you think it’s the children of fans, or somehow they found their own way to the Inkeeper, maybe word of mouth?
The quiz was fun. Thank you for that. 🙂
I got 100% what does that say about me…lol
Do what you do. You are the best!
Stacy McKnight says
Woo hoo 6 out of 6! Ok it’s been a hard day so something going well is a plus. I told a friend yesterday that I read the the genres I like and while I’m game to try it when fav authors go outside the genre it makes it harder for me even if I’ve said I want the something new/fresh/different from them. I’m mostly a great reader but yeah sometimes I suck lol
<3 your advice. Thank you very much!!!
6/6 in 1:44
6 for 6!
4/6 – this is actually a fun activity that I am going to borrow for a school club. We are seeing a lotttt of zoom fatigue & so the need of the hour is snappy interactions without need for collective online presence. Thank you!!
Oh no we’re judging books by their covers! *clutches pearls*
Not that it’s a bad thing, how else are you going to figure out it’s genre when just browsing the aisles.
6/6 yay! XD
Sumendree Moodley says
6/6. But I had read the Gena Showalter book a long time ago (showing my age) so I knew that it was a paranormal romance 🙂
I have to admit I do sometimes pick a book based on the cover. If its a great cover its a great cover. Most times the book is great and follows the idea of the cover. Sometimes I have been disappointed. But I got to read! Thank you to all authors for putting up with industry rules and such. They do have the statistics since they really try to track everybody’s reading trends and buying trends and try to follow every dollar we spend and all our financial decisions. But I also love a surprise in a book.
Maria Z says
I must admit I bought Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series based on Jody Lee’s book cover illustrations. They are gorgeous.
Thanks for taking the time to write these and find the quiz books while you are trying to buy/rent a house. You must be stressed and this was fun.
I made a 6 out of 6 on the quiz, but it feels like cheating, since I’ve actually read 3 out of the 6….
Nice breakdown, as always 🙂
P.S: results from Quiz
Please please please don’t ever do books with half naked men and women on the cover. I will rate them in my mind, always, as weak stories that have to draw readers in with the covers “nakedness”. I have always loved your covers, and totally understand when you explain your relationships with the artists and the amount of control you have with them.
I loved the art of Luisa Pressler of the three Baylor women. It seemed to be totally in sync with their personalities. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Peace and blessings to House Andrews.
Off topic. Regarding housing issue. You might try contacting churches and senior citizen groups. Most churches have an outreach coordinator who might have some insight and same with seniors groups.
More random thoughts.
Woohooo! I got 5 out of 6!
Yvonne A says
Love your coices of Cover and your answer to the question
I have to say i knwo 4 of the authors and the last series, but not this book 😀
Interesting, i come from the programing field, are there industry standards? may be, would be better to call them Strong worded suggestions.
In practice, each does what he wants and methodologies vary greatly from office to office.
Sue Remington says
What’s the difference between High fantasy/Epic Fantasy (there’s usually a sword in there someplace) and Sword and Sorcery?
Moderator R says
From the blog article “A quick note on the difference between high fantasy and sword and sorcery. High fantasy concentrates more on the magical concepts and creatures, while sword and sorcery tends to be more action-oriented.”
🙂 I hope this helps.
Sue R. says
Thank you! It does!????
Interesting – I got 2 out of 6 right, yet I read a ton of fantasy novels (2-3 books a week). But I also don’t pay much attention to covers – maybe because I worked as an artist/illustrator for a long time? I probably have a tendency to overanalyze the art and not think about the story. 🙂
Johanna J says
Enjoyed the overview and the quiz.
Tim McCanna says
Well, while I don’t like restrictions there is so much information to sort through it really helps to narrow my focus to book styles I like and/or fit the mood I’m in. Many years (many, many, many) I received an advanced degree in what they were then calling Library and Information Science. I was trained in search strategies to find information that was indexed by professionals to sort through the massive amounts of data. The world then laughed and the internet took over the galaxies.
So, now you need to spend hours sorting through a mishmash of search results whether on Amazon, Google, ad infinitum.
I’m glad there is at least structure in book covers ????
Lynn Thompson says
Thank you Ilona Andrews for the post. It was interesting.
I wonder about digital versus dead tree book covers. I have noticed that my digital library has the bland / generic one color fronts for books that I own dead tree versions of. Like Elizabeth Moon and Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey. Hmmm. Maybe publisher or cover artists compensation were not adequate. Or public library mores required a more chaste cover…..
Is moderator R still alive and sane? It’s been a few weeks with us BDH people so thought should check on. ????
Thank you for the post.
Moderator R says
She’s alive, but she’s never been sane ????.
I got 100% in 50 seconds. I’m a librarian ????. Sometimes I go on long monologues about the minute differences between similar genres, and what different publishers and publishers imprints say about the projected content of a specific book ????. I totally geek out on it ????????♀️
Very fun quiz – I’m floored I got a 6/6…I guess I spend too much time at the library looking at book covers!
Wow, I am actually surprised that I got them all correct. It shows how much cover bias really does go into my book choices. Lesson learned!
Many years ago (before e-books) the cover was the first (and sometimes last) thing I saw when browsing bookstores and libraries for my next read, searching for the next author to go on my “Yes, yes!!” list. I have to admit I have purchased some books that turned out pretty awful on the basis of a cover I just couldn’t let go by. The cover had to grab me before I even looked at the description.
Now, of course, I search directly for authors that I keep in an electronic wish list, browse through curated lists presented to me by Bookbub based on what I have previously rated, “look inside” and read the samples before buying. But a cover can still totally turn me off of a book so I don’t even look at the sample. Covers rule!
I got every thing right but the first book because I thought the back drop looked urban. Nifty
I always hated it when your publisher put a length restriction on or word count or page count because I wanted all your words and your complete story . I always want your books to be longer .
6/6 but I love to read. Plus I also recognized at least 3 of the authors.
5 of 6; the lasts one I changed my answer and the first answer was correct. Very interesting read. Thank you.
AYSE ISIL ARI says
6/6 though I had already knew the genres of Gena Showalter and Naomi Novik books.
I’m bragging, 56 seconds and 100% accurate. *Nose in the air* So cultured.
Mary OMaley says
Only 50 percent correct here. Wow. I thought I would do better. I can see how this would make your job more difficult. I’m going to forward this to a friend who just finished a book. Thanks so much for sharing this kind of information. Very generous. Hugs
Marian Bernstein says
Yay I got 100% (my life is not very exciting).
David Donahoe says
5 out of 6.
First cover fooled me.
/spoiler for the quiz below.
Looked like a modern day alley. I saw the sword but it also looked like he had a gun. Relatively attractive guy. I was torn between paranormal romance and urban fantasy.
These days i prefer what i think of as urban fantasy, modern day but filled with magic, From Laurell K Hamilton (considered Horror to my shock) to Jim Butcher, to any snarky witty dialogue, all magic, all types from fairies to trolls, shapeshifting if shifter maintains his / her humanity, strong intelligent woman lead character preferred, equally awesome male counterpart, but the woman is never diminished or weak, a steady rise in inner power or abilities, and the bad guys have an edge with snark too. Im done with The Hobbit and epic Lord of the Rings fantasy and similar epic fantasies in strange worlds, times, dimensions.(which i loved). Of course going back and forth from present day ordinary world to elsewhere is very cool… Ive read and enjoyed most everything i could find. But I cant discern from the cover, except for the extreme lame imo supernatural romance novel.
I got 6 out of 6. But I will admit I wasn’t choosing solely from the covers but also from my knowledge of some of the writers.
Do the self-published authors have control over translations/publications overseas?
I actually did a double take when I saw the cover of Magic Bites in Russian. It looks pretty – but I’m not sure it tells us anything about Kate or the plot…
(Image from Labirint.ru)
Apologies, the image didn’t get attached
Moderator R says
The foreign publications are usually not under author control. The rights to the book are purchased by local publishers, who then target their particular market, which they usually understand better. See for example the story of the Hidden Legacy series published in Israel https://ilona-andrews.com/2021/hidden-legacy-covers-the-unexpected-edition/ .
From the FAQ, related to this:
“We do not control the availability of our books in other countries. Your local publishers and retailers control that. If you would like to read our work in your language/your country, please email a local publisher who publishes fiction similar to our work and let them know you would like to read us on your terms. We’re happy to sell foreign rights to other countries. We would like to have our books to be available as widely as possible.”
Christina V. says
I have been reading genre fiction for a long, long time.
I got 5 out of 6. Even I’m surprised. I guess all those hours of browsing Amazon looking at book covers must have stuck.
Susan B says
I got all 6 right. I need to stop reading.
Fran Shriver says
Seriously? I got 6 out o 6 on the quiz? I actually had no idea I could identify the genres that well just from the covers. I think my mouth actually dropped open when I saw the score. Yes, I read all of these genres, but some a lot more than others.
My best guess is that maybe the big score is because I do notice all book covers because I am an artist, and there is the appreciation of the cover art.
5 of 6. ????
Thanks for the article and the quiz it was fun 🙂
I once read Feesum Engum by Ian M Banks, which is fantastic SciFi by a world famous author who I read religiously – but an entire POV set of chapters from the lead character is spelled phonetically, and I could not read them until I read the rest of the book and had enough context to understand what the words were.
Jo Ann says
I rarely choose a book by the cover art. I tend to rely more on a plot synopsis and recommendations from reviews (as well as reader comments). If I like a book or a series I will usually give any new book or new series from that author/authors/universe a chance. Sometimes I will stay with new series for the entire run and sometimes I don’t. I normally read a book at least 3 times. Once for overall structure and character development, again for detail, and again for just the pleasure of revisiting a familiar place. If Audible has a recording then that recording becomes a key addition to my collection. I’m saddest when a series ends or needed to end becoming repetitive to the point of boring. At my age (77) it is frustrating when the next book of a favorite series takes too long for my voracious reading appetite but I understand that authors need that space to regenerate so I try to wait patiently. Thank you for reading this to the end.
Good information. Thank you. And I got all all the a swers for the covers correct! Whee!
We stick to lower R/higher end of PG for the Innkeeper, because it is posted online
Sorry what does PG mean is IT something like parental control? Or something? Sorry
Moderator R says
It’s a film rating system which has made it into common speech to refer to most entertainment content.
PG stands for Parental Guidance and R for Restricted Content. It means the online serial of the Innkeeper Chronicles will be suitable for teens if they happen to stumble upon it.
I hope this helps ????
I all most missed “Gate of Ivrel” by C.J. Cherryh back when it first came out because of the cover. It was terrible but publishers thought S.F. Readers were all male and did covers to reach them (boobs).
LOL; I got 6 of 6… Only to be expected though – I spent half a decade as a bookseller (and 60 years as a reader).
Jéssica Freitas says
I think “learn the rules first, and they go smashing” is excellent advice and applicable on so many things as well. Too often I see both people way too stuck on rules or wanting so much to diferentiate themselves without first devoting time to understand why the rules were the way they were to begin with, leads to a lot of people getting stuck. As always I love getting your opinions and POV on everything.
I have always thought titles gave away the genre over the cover. But I did have a friend that mentioned she wouldn’t have picked up a book we both liked if the new covers had been in use when she bought the book.
Yes. I agree. Many of my favorite books were first bought with different covers that have changed over the years. For example, Ursula LeGuin’s books originally when shelved next to each other made a bigger design and each individual cover was very folk art/art deco design. Likewise Patricia McKillip’s Riddle-master of Hed trilogy had a look I loved. Not saying all new covers are bad but something about the original made me pick up the book to begin. I guess art styles change of the years but sometimes when I look at new covers I would have thought the book was about something else entirely.
Jonathan Moeller is an indy author (fantasy, mostly) who has done a lot of tracking on his sales in regards to cover images and other factors. I always find his blog posts about it interesting.
E-books make tracking and sales data so much easier (even if what is made available to authors is less than what Amazon has access to).
Heh, I got one wrong, the very first. Go figure. Anyways, thanks for the info, always interesting to read about what goes on in the background
Thanks that was a fun quiz!
Maria Z says
Question about audiobooks.
A pet peeve of mine is how characters names are pronounced. This is not a criticism of any author or narrator of any books this is simply a pet peeve of mine. It is sometimes a surprise to me how a reader pronounces a characters name as in my head I was pronouncing it differently.
Does House Andrews have any input into how a reader pronounces the characters names?
The reason I ask is that the reader for Blood Heir pronounces Barabbas, Mahon, and Simon very differently than the reader for the Kate Daniels books. Was this done on purpose or was it unexpected?
Again no disrespect or insult intended to anyone I was simply curious.
Moderator R says
The names in Blood Heir are pronounced the way they were supposed to be pronounced all along, as explained here https://ilona-andrews.com/2021/blood-heir-audio-is-now-available/
House Andrews have detailed the pronunciations of the character names to audio narrators before, but as all artistry, there is a subjective input for each reading.
Maria Z says