Skip to main content

Pretty as a Picture

by Libby Malin

Sourcebooks' artists have done it again! The cover for my April release, My Own Personal Soap Opera, is in and I love, love, love, love it!

Let me count the ways:

  • The cover captures the spirit of the book--humorous women's fiction where the heroine's main question is: where am I going?
  • The cover plays off the word "soap" by having the woman sitting in a tub. The end of the book has the heroine in a tub, so it's a really nice overlap.
  • The cover "brands" my kind of story because it has similar elements to my first Sourcebooks release, Fire Me--girl's partially obscured face in the lower left corner, blue-sky, cloudy (or bubbly!) background, a sense of impishness and wonder.

So, thank you, Sourcebooks artists for another fantastic job!

Covers are so important, and authors rarely have control over what goes on them. One of the things I've loved about Sourcebooks is how they ask authors to let them know what kinds of covers we like, what kinds of covers we'd like to have ours emulate.

I've had friends published elsewhere who've anguished over a misstep on the cover--art that doesn't communicate the tone of the book at all. Even though the book is a good one, if a reader picks it up expecting one thing, because of the cover design, and getting another, because of the actual story, disappointment is inevitable.

Readers can be pulled into picking up a book if the cover is enticing. And they can bypass perfectly wonderful novels if the cover is blah or just not the kind of images that attract that book's readers.

A couple years ago, I read a mystery novel by a talented writer who I'd "met" on an email readers/writers loop. It was a magnificent book featuring a female protagonist who solves the mystery. The protagonist had a wry sense of humor, but was no hard-boiled detective. She was an amateur sleuth, in fact. The book was so well-written that it made me think: hmm, if Raymond Chandler had been a female, this is how she would have written mysteries.

As great as that book was, if I'd come across it in a bookstore, I never would have picked it up. Its cover art was angular and abstract, communicating a sense of hardness and grit that was at odds with what was on the page.

Have you read books where the cover art doesn't jibe with the story? Or have you bypassed books you later liked. . . because the cover art didn't attract you the the first time? Or how about books that are a perfect marriage of both art and story, but it was the art that triggered your purchase?


  1. Good Morning, Libby. You are so right. Your covers are fabulous and they scream "Pick me up!" How wonderful.

    For the most part, I've always had fabulous covers, but as you publish more books chances are you'll get a lemon cover eventually! :-)


  2. Love your cover!

    One book that I love had a cover that would never, in a million years, have enticed me to buy it. It's brown and dark and just not my thing at all. The back cover copy really didn't do it for me, but since I was researching the genre and publishers and pulled every book off the shelf and read the first page or two.

    OMG. I LOVED that book! Absolutely loved it! And I've got a new author friend b/c of it, but I have to say, the publisher did her and that book a huge disservice.

    hmmm - word verification: Phave.

    For a phan of the Phillies here in Philadelphia, talking about a phavorite book, that word seems appropro :)

  3. I have an addiction to buying books based on covers and there are countless time that a book had a great cover and the story didn't measure up! However I have a very pretty library of books :)

    One book recently that did have a great cover and a fabulous story was The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. The cover is gorgeous and if you like books about having to research your own history (and discovering the truth about your family in the process) this book is for you!

  4. I bought a copy of Georgette Heyer's Sylvester many years ago and have always thought that the cover was perfect. The tone was right and the people on the cover actually looked like the characters as they were described in the book. I read that book so many times that I wore it out, and when it was reprinted by another publisher, I had to buy it again, however, the cover art was perfectly awful! So I tore the cover off of the original copy and stuck it in the new one.
    Sometimes it just doesn't pay to mess with perfection...

  5. Woohoo, great cover, Libby! :) I definitely have picked up a book based on it's cover, and loved the book too! :)

  6. There are some covers that I think are artful but don't necessarily pull me in. I just read Pat Barker's REGENERATION and, although the cover art on the trade paperback I had was okay, it just didn't scream "pick me up." I got the book on a recommendation from a friend.

  7. Love your cover, Libby. But I'm not much on picking books by the covers, though I have to say, I am so glad Sourcebooks has amazing cover artists! I just love all our covers. I'm more of a title gal. Give me a great title and I'll pick it up.

  8. What a great cover, and it fits so well with Fire Me; I'd guess straight away that it was the same author. Cool!

  9. LOVE your new cover, Libby!

    Yes, I know we are very blessed to have the talented crew in the Sourcebooks Art Dept. giving us all such great covers!

    Can't wait to see my new one for my July release.


  10. Libby, I apologize profusely for being so wrapped up this week that my visit to the blog has been delayed. Wow! The cover is fantastic! I really love it. And you are so right about it catching the tones of your previous one. That is marvelous.

    Covers are a phenomenon in the book world. Over all I do feel that Sourcebooks listens well and take all aspects of the story as well as marketing image into consideration. However our covers end up, even if not precisely as we may have imagined, that are so beautiful and well constructed. Way above most, IMO.

    Best of luck with this one!


Post a Comment