People Do Judge A Book By Its Cover

Lately I’ve been harping on editing and for good reason. Editing is important. But today I want to discuss another aspect of publishing that is essential: book covers.

As much as I want to believe that people don’t judge a book by its cover, they do. They really do. This isn’t just for self-published authors. All authors need a book cover that catches the reader’s eye. To complicate matters the book cover has to fit into the genre. Don’t put a pirate on your book about ice hockey just because you like pirates. I love pirates as well. When I was a kid I would bury “treasures” in my neighborhood and then I created maps and clues for friends. But only a small amount of people who really knew me would understand why I put a pirate on my book cover. I know this sounds silly, but I’ve seen so many covers that baffle me. And even after reading the synopsis or the book I still can’t figure out how the cover relates to the story.

My advice is to study book covers in your genre. I have spent countless hours on Amazon looking at covers. When I need a break, I wander through bookstores and look for the covers that catch my eye. Often a cover only has a few seconds to capture someone’s attention. You need to make an impression and fast.

Today I would like to show an example of a wonderful book cover that catches the eye and reveals the mood of the book with just one glance.

vitaminsanddeath medium

Now, read the synopsis:

Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother’s briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High.

Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, Deidra thinks no one will figure out they’re the Battles from recent news and that they’re safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed her life.

Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.

The cover is absolutely perfect for the synopsis and genre!

I would like to thank Medeia Sharif for letting me use her book cover for today’s post. And for all of you who are curious about her upcoming release, here’s the info:


YA Contemporary, Prizm Books

Release Date December 10, 2014

Find Medeia

Blog   |   Instagram   |   Twitter   |   Add VITAMINS AND DEATH on Goodreads 

Have a wonderful week everyone!




About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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38 Responses to People Do Judge A Book By Its Cover

  1. Thank you so much. I’m glad for all the cover love yesterday and today.

  2. A well-done cover will definitely intrigue me and make me want to discover what the book’s about. And I agree, the cover should definitely symbolize what the book is about.

    My only minor issue is sometimes the artist will make mistakes by not checking the manuscript. A character may be described in the book as having a certain color of hair and the same character on the front of the book has another color of hair not even close to what’s in the book. *rolls eyes*

  3. I must admit that when I walk around a book store, it is definitely the covers that draw me to individual books. A beautiful, intriguing cover will make me pick it up and read the synopsis. A boring, plain cover will cause me to walk on by, unless it is a book that someone has recommended.

  4. Beth Ann says:

    That cover is PERFECT! I totally agree with you that the cover is key to the book. It is really what draws the eye to the book in the first place and like you said–you get a couple of seconds to draw the reader in. You have had great choices in cover art for yours so you obviously have done your homework.

  5. Great cover! When I’m browsing in bookstores, the cover is always the reason I’ll pick up a book.

  6. Sherri says:

    Now that’s what I call a perfect cover and synopsis leaving me wanting more, more and yet more. Excellent example and post TB. All great advice and congratulations to Medeia on her upcoming book release. Another one for the list…and it keeps getting longer and longer… 😉

  7. I agree. A cover will make or break my choice, sometimes from across an aisle. 🙂

  8. Kourtney Heintz says:

    I think it’s important that the cover fit the genre but also capture the tone of the book. I think of it as am promise to the reader. What you see is what you get. 🙂 Nothing worse than a bait and switch.

  9. Her cover is great!
    I read science fiction and fantasy, and the cover is so important for those genres. It has to be rich and artistically designed.
    I’ve been very pleased with the covers my publisher designed for my books.

    • TBM says:

      Science fiction and fantasy covers are fab. Michael Whelan (not sure I spelled that right) is my favorite fantasy cover artist. I love the intricacies of the covers in sci fi and fantasy.

  10. Medeia’s cover really is fantastic! Congrats to her!

  11. simplyilka says:

    Even I am not planning on releasing a book I find this extremley interesting. Thank you 🙂

  12. simplyilka says:

    Oh! And Yes!!! I do judge a book by its cover. Can’t help myself

  13. Medeia’s cover is most definitely eye-catching! And I completely agree with you about covers in general. If a book’s cover doesn’t make a good first impression, it really lowers, if not obliterates, a person’s urge to pick it up and learn more…

  14. feedmeinbooks says:

    Its funny I just posted something similar on Twitter about covers. and I hate to admit I am one of those readers that will look at a cover and cringe and move on to another book. It doesn’t matter how amazing the story is on the inside if the cover makes readers move on. First impressions are important and the covers are the first things readers will see.
    Great Post! 😀

  15. The Guat says:

    You know I have to admit I do. Guilty. As a writer I know I shouldn’t but I do, especially with children’s books for my kids. I do judge a book by its cover, BUT I always give it a second chance by reading the jacket and if that doesn’t do it….fogggggged aboud it. And there have been some really great books whose cover didn’t really do it for me, but when I opened it up or turned it over….dude it was on. I always wanted to ask you how long it took you to choose your covers, you know your process…must be exciting and worrisome at the same time.

    • TBM says:

      The covers are fun to create. I usually give the designer some ideas but more than likely she comes back with something completely different, which is ideal since design is not my strong suit at all. It takes a few rounds to get it where I like it. I enjoy learning about the process and seeing how others picture the story.

  16. Medeia’s cover is fantastic! Covers are difficult to get just right. And they have to be since people do judge books based on their covers. If I see a really horrible cover, I probably won’t read the blurb. Though I do try to read the blurb and the reviews before making any further judgement! Have a lovely weekend. 🙂

  17. stephie5741 says:

    I’m curious how much of this cover-judging has changed because of e-books. I’m more likely to look at covers in a bookstore, sure, but I’m more likely to buy a book online due to word-of-mouth. The cover does grab me, sure, but if it’s being heavily recommended by friends and the idea sounds intriguing… Although I have to say if the cover isn’t professional or just plain sucks, I won’t buy it even if people I like are recommending it!

    • TBM says:

      It will be interesting to see if this evolves, but it’s still one of the first things you see online when browsing. I make it a point to look at the cover on my Kindle even though it usually advances me to the start. I hit the back button so I can look at it.

  18. I totally agree regarding covers (and editing). The two absolute essentials. I did a post a while back on covers too which you may or may not remember. And I should add that Confessions is def one of my faves, I think it is your best one.

    Covers totally influence me. When I’m scanning down lists of books, (eg BookBub) I read the blurb and glance at the cover. If the cover doesn’t attract me/repels me, I’m onto the next book. Sad but true. I’m just writing a review (not for blog, for elsewhere) and some editorial feedback notes for the author, and the cover is on the list. It’s a good cover, and it reflects the story, but I think it could be more accurate. Top tips to authors, get your editor to have a look at the cover. Even if they haven’t worked in graphic design/layout they might notice if the graphical details don’t bear out the story.

    When I did my post, one reader said the covers I picked didn’t do anything for her. Interesting, because Medeia’s cover does nothing for me. I don’t particularly like the picture and I think the font is terrible. We’re all different.

    Hope you’ve finished Claudia off, so to speak, by now.

    • TBM says:

      Interesting idea about running it by my editor. I usually poll people who have read it but haven’t run it by Karin or Jeri. It makes sense and I feel a little foolish for not thinking of it. I learn something every day.

      When I scan the bookbub list, I look at the covers first and if I like it, then I’ll read the synopsis. I like looking at the email every day since it helps me see what type of covers catch my eye. Not that all readers are the same, but it is useful.

      And Claudia is almost ready to go thank goodness. By this stage in the game I usually want to finish off all my characters and never deal with them again.

      • I think polling people is a good idea, one of the authors I work for has done that, and also asked me what I think though too, given that I probably know the books as well as anyone.

        In the case of this one I’m reviewing, the murder weapon is described as a wooden handle with brass studs (from memory) yet the cover shows a bog-standard cook’s knife. I’ve only read this book once, but it’s certainly the sort of thing an editor *should* pick up on.

        I think tbh, it depends on your editor(s) as to whether or not they are happy commenting on graphics. Because I used to commission a lot of graphic design, and worked on translating words and concepts into images, I’m happy doing it. It’s not a traditional part of an editor’s role on publishing fiction, but it’s a brave new world these days, and being multi-skilled helps.

        Yes, BookBub is handy to look at for artwork comparison, and blurb analysis. I also get readcheaply. The Amazon newsletter is less user-friendly because of its magazine format compared with the scroll down one of the other two.

        Good luck with your Claudia launch, you were aiming for pre-Christmas I think?

      • TBM says:

        That’s a good catch about the weapon and I’m sure mistakes happen like that all of the time. And you are right about it being brave new world. Most freelancers are branching out into multiple areas. I’m always amazed by how many hats some editors wear.

        Claudia (the e-book) will be available on December 8th. This is the first time I’m using Amazon’s pre-order option and the book is already on the site. It’ll be an interesting experiment to see how it works. I need to write a blog post about it so I can share the before and after.

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