Do People Judge Books by their Covers?

A guest post by Monique Bucheger

The Classic Covers of the Ginnie West Adventures (Illustrations by Gary Rasmussen)

The Classic Covers of the Ginnie West Adventures (Illustrations by Gary Rasmussen)


Absolutely. There’s no question about it. Choosing a great book cover is important. A book’s cover must be engaging and easily identify the book’s genre. Most importantly, book covers are the start of the promise an author makes to a reader to meet—if not exceed—the reader’s expectation in the storytelling experience.

Authors have differing amounts of influence regarding their book’s cover. Their decision making power is greatly affected by whether the author is indie or traditionally published, and how much creative control the author is offered—or insists on.  Some publishers allow their authors no say, some will listen to the author’s thoughts, and some will allow author’s to have final decision making power, though this is rare.

In my case, I have 100% say, but don’t feel a need to micro-manage my covers. I simply ask that my covers depict my main character and her horse, and are laid out with a font easily read in thumbnail size. The rest of the details, I leave up to my very talented illustrators and trust them to illustrate my story well.

My first set of book covers were a labor of love by a good friend, Gary Rasmussen. Not only is he an artist, he is an author, and a horse whisperer. His horses were magnificent and caught the eye of many tweens and teens. Gary draws the covers by hand on a large illustration board. Then he paints the background in with watercolors and the completes the more detailed work with colored pencils. However, most middle-grade books tend to have a more animated look than my original covers.

Then I happened across Mikey Brooks. After chatting with Mikey and sending him some excerpts about one of my characters, he sent me a cover he drew on impulse. I loved it, so we discussed other projects, including YouTube video trailers, paper dolls, and a picture book.

Mikey draws his pictures by hand and then colors them on a computer.  Because computer animation makes it easier to tweak colors, scenes, expressions, fonts, sizing, and scene elements, we can change small or large details, without putting the project on hold for long.

For example— just today—Mikey drew illustrations for my second book, Trouble Blows West. In a matter of minutes, he changed a pink pig to show the black-and-white markings of an English saddleback hog, and transformed a brown wicker couch into a white, wood-slatted swing. These details are mentioned in my books, but not details I had mentioned to Mikey.

Mikey has authored and illustrated several picture books. We decided to collaborate on a picture book featuring my main character, Ginnie, as a precocious three-year-old. Since Gary agreed that all of my books should have a similar look, Mikey created new covers for my Ginnie West Adventure series. The added bonus to Mikey’s method of illustrating is that we can quickly produce new pictures for projects such as YouTube trailers of my books. He converted some of those pictures into illustrations for my books—both e-book and print, as well as coloring pages for promotional purposes.

As an indie author, I have complete control over what my books look like, but I am smart enough to let Mikey do his thing—which is to make awesome illustrations for my books.

The new covers for the Ginnie West Adventures

The New Covers for the Ginnie West Adventures (Illustrations by Mikey Brooks)

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Monique Bucheger is the author of three middle-grade novels, wife of one, and mom of 12. Monique’s Musings can be found at: http://moniquebucheger.blogspot.com/

Mikey Brooks, author and illustrator, can be found playing make-believe with his daughters or online at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/ or  http://writtenbymikey.blogspot.com/

Gary Rasmussen, author, illustrator, horse whisperer, and former columnist has made the leap into the 21st century and can be found at http://www.garyrasmussen.com/ or www.balingwirememoirs.com.


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