Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Nicole Seitz

What's in a Cover?

Have you ever thought about what makes you pick up a book? Is it word of mouth? Have you heard 'so many great things' about that one? Read a review? Perhaps it's the prestigious placement up in the way-front of the bookstore that catches your eye. Well, I'm sort of a visual person, so I'm going to say, for me, it's all in the cover.

I love book covers. Great book cover design makes strolling the aisles of my favorite book stores the most fun. That, and the coffee. Often, the caffeine mixed with just the right color combination and graphics make my eyes pop and my hand grab for a book that I may otherwise never, ever pick up.

Take, for instance, J.L. Miles' Roseflower Creek. I'd not heard of Ms. Miles before her debut novel, but it was placed very close to the front of the store AND had a terrific cover of a young girl with water, ghostly...just drew me in. How about The Alchemist with it's ethereal fairy-tale-castle-in-the-sky look? Or Water for Elephants...just where IS that circus guy going? I want to come too!

But sometimes, covers can be misleading. Take for instance Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. Now, this one was in the front of the store, was a bestseller, I'd heard of it, etc., BUT I didn't pick it up for the longest time. Why? I thought it was scary. There, I said it. I'm a big chicken, and the cover looked very dark along with the number Thirteen and well...I finally asked someone if it was scary and they looked at me like I had a marshmallow nose. I LOVED the book and was not scared a bit once I finally read it.

So, this business of book covers? It's big business...a very big deal. The cover of my first novel, The Spirit of Sweetgrass, has gotten very positive feedback. I will tell you outright that it is my painting there, so I'm doubly thrilled. Readers and booksellers alike who do not know it's my painting have told me the cover is what made them pick it up. For a new author, a good cover is essential, seeing as your name means nada.

My next novel, Trouble the Water, will feature a painting of mine too, but this one has not been so easy. I did one, loved it. The publisher didn't think it was right for the book. Did another that I didn't love so much, same deal. Finally, I said, "Well, here's a painting a neighbor of mine who just walked in my house liked...you like it? It has water in it." And voila, the new cover was born. HOWEVER, lately I've been promoting advanced copies of Trouble the Water, and people still remark about The Spirit of Sweetgrass cover but say NOTHING about the new book cover. Got my knees shaking, it did. So, I prayed about it. Then, I painted again. This time, I think we have a winner. I love it, the publisher loves it. Now, let's just hope the reader loves it. Can you tell me what you think? The book is about hope and healing on a South Carolina sea island. Would this cover make you pick it up? Tell me at nicole@nicoleseitz.com. Thanks, friend. New authors can use all the help we can get.

Nicole Seitz is the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass and upcoming novel, Trouble the Water (March 2008). Visit her website at http://www.nicoleseitz.com/.


Susan Cushman said...

I'm an artist and writer, also, and like you, covers matter. A lot. And YES, your final cover design is a winner... I'd buy it! Poets & Writers ran an article about covers a few months ago... with several authors contributing their opinions about how much it matters. It matters more to somethan others. If my first novel ever gets the nod of an agent, I hope to at least suggest some artwork... if I don't paint some myself! You go, girl!

Nicole Seitz said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks so much for chiming in. We have a lot in common. I wish you the best of luck in getting your first novel off the ground! Hey, if in doubt, rework that query letter to agents. And don't give up!