Saturday, 4 August 2012

Guest Post: Hazel Osmond talks about book covers

The first thing you see when you pick up a book is its cover and generally you either love them or hate them.  Today's guest post has been written by author Hazel Osmond who asks 'what's in a book cover?'.   

Ah, book covers, they're a hot subject at the minute - especially in romantic fiction/chick lit, whatever name you give to the genre.  Lots of people seem to have very strong opinions about them.

Basically those opinions fall into two camps.

The first says that the sparkly, pastel cover approach, with almost cartoon representations of people has had its day and is not doing the genre any favours because it suggests that the stories inside the covers are light and fluffy.  They point out that 'One Day', essentially a romance, written by a man, got a very strong, graphic treatment and consequently appealed to readers of both sexes and perhaps also to those who don't normally read romances.

The second says, we like our sparkly covers, stop judging us... you don't chip away at readers of thrillers or action novels about the covers on those books - isn't this just another way of looking down your nose at what women like to write and read?

Where do I stand?  Well, I'm in the weird position that the two books I have had published so far have each had quite different covers.

I should at this point say that. like most writers, I do not come up with the ideas for the covers of my book.  My publisher, Quercus, does that although they are very careful to ensure that I'm happy and do take into account any changes I might suggest.

For 'Who's Afraid of Mr Wolfe?' I had what you would call a more traditional approach, complete with sparkles.  I thought it was a beautiful cover and the feedback from readers suggested that they did too.  To me it seemed to fit a book that I'd intended to be my take on a traditional chick lit plot with some unexpected twists and equal measures of laughter and heartache. 

When it came to 'The First Time I Saw Your Face', Quercus said they wanted to try a different approach, a photographic one, and although I was happy to see what they would come up with, I was also a little wary.  Why?  Well, without giving too much of the plot of the book away, my leading character, Jennifer, has been in an accident.  It was important to me that she was represented in what I considered to be a sensitive, non melodramatic way.  I also had a very strong idea of what Jennifer looked like.

I need not have worried.  When I saw the proposed photograph it seemed to me that the woman in it was Jennifer.  If I'm honest, I felt a little spooked that they could have got it so right.  I also liked the free-hand lettering of the title and the pink colour - it's not pastel, it's strong.  Even when you can only see the spine it looks sexy an very contemporary.  It matches the story inside.

That's my tale of two covers.  Is one 'better' than the other and what does 'better' in this context mean any?  Is the second cover part of a general move towards photographic images and away from pastels and cartoon representations?  I don't know... and really what I think isn't important, it's what the reader browsing the bookshelves or scrolling through Amazon thinks that matters.

So, if you're a reader, I'd love to know your views.  If you have the time, please leave a comment here, or drop me a line at

Bye for now



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