Can’t Judge a Book…

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in Writing | 0 comments

We hear it all the time, “It’s not what’s on the outside that counts, but what’s on the inside”. There are any number of other ways of saying the same thing, including “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” While it is true that the outsides aren’t always a good judge of what’s on the inside, we still have to start somewhere, and that’s where the outside comes in. We have to be interested in the outside in order to take a look or make time to explore what’s on the inside.

I am, of course, talking about books. I’ve purchased and downloaded literally thousands of books. I have books to my right, books to my left, books stacked taller than me, boxes of books everywhere. Obviously, I have an addiction, I need a twelve step program. They say the first step in getting over an addiction is admitting you have a problem…well, I have a problem.

I digress. The reason I’m talking about my…not so secret illness isn’t actually to effect a change, it’s to point something out: We judge books by their covers. We pick out visually stunning books, unusual books, oddly-shaped books, not because we know what’s on the inside, but because of what we see on the outside. Now, I’m not actually saying this is a bad thing. We use our senses to see traits we desire. When we look at a person, we look for symmetry in features, we look for indications of disease, indications of genetic abnormalities, qualities we like, etc. We use our eyes for all kinds of clues. This isn’t exclusive to looking at people or books. We use our eyes for almost everything, but it’s especially important for books. We can’t smell a book to see if we’re going to like it. We can’t taste it, or feel it to let us know whether we’re going to like the contents, and that’s even more true when it comes to e-books. All we have to judge the books by are the covers and the descriptions.

Now, I’ve read some truly great books without looking at the cover, but it’s rare, and I often forgo those books for others that have intriguing covers. When picking a cover, make sure to look at other books in its genre. Look at the bestsellers. What makes them popular? Think about why you would want to pick that book up. We’ve already discussed titles, so moving beyond titles and author names, what else on the book would make you want to read it? Think about these things before creating a cover. Once a cover is created, take a look and see what your first impression is of that cover. Usually, your first impression is correct, so if you look at the cover that you created and your first thought is “Amateurish”, it probably is, and you may want to reconsider it. If you look at the cover and think “I wouldn’t pick that up,” you should reconsider your cover as well. Most of the time, the cover will click when it’s right. There are a lot of blogs and tutorials about picking and creating a cover, so I’m not going to go into that, but they are not unlike the saying, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” Sometimes, you have to try on a lot of different styles before finding the one that’s just right.

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