I’m fairly certain I’ve heard the words ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ more than a few thousand times in my life. And I’m totally okay with this statement as a metaphor. For example, I think it’s correct – and actually a good idea – to apply this figure of speech to people. We totally shouldn’t judge people based on their looks, size, ethnicity, etc. Taking this figure of speech literally, however? As in not judging an actual book by its cover? Nah, I’m not okay with that and here’s why.
Careless covers. I totally just made that term up. What I mean by ‘careless covers’ are those book covers which look messy and unprofessional. If the cover doesn’t look professional, what’s the writing going to be like? Do I want to find out? Total disclosure here: I’ve made a few covers myself that don’t look entirely professional. Live and learn.
Cover model. I have no problem with a hot cover model. Okay, I really, really like them. The problem occurs when the same hot cover model is used again and again. And that’s it. The cover is just the hot guy from a stock photo and absolutely nothing has been changed to the original picture. I can’t help wondering if the story (usually a romance) will be as clichéd as the photo.
Unfitting for the genre. A cover should fit the genre of the book. As a reader, I think I’ve always known this on an intuitive basis. But now that I’m writing as well, I really pay attention to this aspect. I won’t ignore a book on this basis – as I will for the previous two categories – but I will hesitate before purchasing and spend more time reading through reviews before hitting the ‘buy’ button.
Wrong character. In other words, the person portrayed on the cover looks nothing like the character in the book. This is one of my pet peeves. It seems careless. Don’t you want your book cover to match your character? Or are you just in a hurry? Unfortunately, this is something that I often only discover after I’ve read the book. I’ve drawn this character in my head and then I shut the book in my kindle and see the cover and think “Who’s that?” I will be holding this against the author. What can I say? I like to hold grudges.
I’m also against covers that tell me I’m going to love the book because some top-selling author loved it. I understand an author’s desire to add these blurbs to their covers, though, and try not to be too judgmental. (I’m a work in progress.)
So yeah, I judge books by their covers. Go ahead and judge me.