So you’ve written your epic novel. You’ve painstakingly edited it, got your beta readers onto it and hired a pro to polish it and make it shiny.
But guess what? All that is going to mean precisely jack if you front cover looks like this;
But wait! Aren’t we all taught as toddlers that most famous phrase “Do not judge a book by its cover?” So why do we? Why do we walk into a bookstore and stride past the nondescript brown cover with stencilled writing and go to the flashy, colourfest with swooping dragons, a dashing hero and the author’s name big, bold and front centre?
Because of a psychological fact called attribution. Attribution is where we take what little stimuli is offered and try to make meaning of it.
How many times have you watched the news and seen a story of someone who’s been shot at 2am while out on the street? The news report flashes to a shot of his girlfriend who says in broken English, “He was a real awesome dude. Always up for a drink and a laugh.” She has yellow (or missing) teeth, unkempt hair, bags under her eyes and is wearing a tight Marilyn Manson T-shirt.
From this limited stimuli, most of us would jump to the conclusion that the dead man was mixed up in drugs and that’s why he was shot. It might be a correct assumption. It might be he went out at 2am because they were out of diapers, and the nights of lost sleep and grief are the cause of his girlfriend’s appearance.
The point is, it’s human nature to attribute meaning to everything.
How does this relate to books? I’m getting to that.
When you see a book on the shelf standing beside all his fellow books, the only stimuli you have to help you create an attribution is the front cover. Will this book be good? Is it your type of book? Is it by that author you hate so chances are it’ll be rubbish? You need these things in order to make assumptions about the book and decide whether to purchase it, and if your only clue on first sight is cover art… then unfortunately, yes. We must all judge a book by its cover.
I know I do.
Take a look at the image below.
Would you try one of these books? If yes, would you pay for one of these books? Yes, no, why, why not? Leave some comments and your thoughts below!