Hi Miss Snark,
Thought I’d run this by you just to get an agent’s point of view. Book covers. I see a lot people chiming in about them on different sites. In your opinion, do they have a significant impact on sales? Have you ever seen the final cover of a client’s book and thought “Oh God, that’s awful. What was the design department thinking?” or “Great cover! That will go a long way to helping sales.”
I ask because I’ve seen a mix of responses from book buyers. Some say they don’t buy based on the cover, but on reading the first ten pages. Others say they won’t buy because they can’t get past the cover, or will buy because of it even if the back blurb is “iffy”.
Book covers ARE a big deal. I know my limitations and I'm not an artist. I'm not about to tell Chip Kidd how to design a book or share all my special ideas with him any more than I want someone telling me how to organize my files. He and his ilk are very very smart, talented people and they think about what they do very carefully.
That said, there are some very very strange covers in this world. Harlen Coben started his career with a bleeding football cover, and Dan Simmons had covers with creatures with the wrong number of arms for quite some time.
Rick Moody's Diviners came in for a LOT of snide comments this summer..so much so Little,Brown actually changed it between the ARC and the book.
But cover design and book production are not places where I have input much less control. Only very very big authors get that and it can be incredibly self defeating unless you know a LOT about design and marketing.
The purpose of a book cover is to get someone to reach for the book. When all you have is the title, author's name, and color to do that, well...I leave that up to the folks who've been doing rather than me who's just talked about it. I can tell you what doesn't work (sometimes) but I sure as hell can't conjure up what DOES out of thin air.
I attended a presentation at the Small Press Center some time back with people who were art directors at publishing houses. It was very enlightening to hear them talk about why they chose certain designs.
And ya, I've had horrible moments when I've gotte the cover art and just wept. Those are not good days.