Friday, August 24, 2012


by Nancy Jill Thames

Sat next to an Irishman on a plane trip once and learned his opinion on several issues - one of which was book covers.  To him, the cover wasn't as important as the contents. By reading a summary on what the book was about, he could judge whether he would read it or not. Nowadays, summaries appear either on the back covers or found in online descriptions. Readers searching for new material may even peer into the books first few chapters and random pages with Amazon's Search Inside feature. For me, the cover is the first thing that draws or repels my attention. Let's take a look at several examples. 
In WHOSE BODY? by Dorothy L. Sayers, the author's name is most prominent, followed by the title. But notice at the top the word MYSTERY appears under the sleuth's name - Lord Peter Wimsey. Under the title is an endorsement and the illustration reveals the scene of the crime. 

The cover for AFTER THE FUNERAL by Agatha Christie is not unlike the first cover, but uses a different approach. The illustrations include actual clues. I for one don't like the clues displayed on the front for one simple reason: If I choose to reread the story, the clues give everything away and ruins the suspense. What I do is ignore the cover (difficult to do) and begin the read.

Another favorite mystery series is MURDER, SHE WROTE which I discovered in book form and own 25 of the fun reads. This is my favorite cover style for three reasons: 
1. Brand recognition of the TV series and it's star, Jessica Fletcher played by Angela Lansbury;
2. The story setting always appears. In this case a train depicting the title DESTINATION MURDER; and 
3. If you look closely on the hill above the train to the left of Jessica's face, there's an image of a skull - so cool!!

Janet Evanovich" cover for WICKED APPETITE uses bold color and appropriate font for her title. The credits and hook are interspersed in between the author and title enticing the reader to buy. 

As a novice, I created the cover for my first book MURDER IN HALF MOON BAY using my publisher's free resources  and  obtained permission from the photographer to use the photo of the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay. By looking at the cover, a reader can expect a murder taking place in Half Moon Bay, a female sleuth, and see that the genre is a mystery series. The layout gives continuity to the series by only needing to change the photo and color scheme. 

I love books! To me, the stories are like servings of delicious cake -  but the covers are the icing. How important are covers to you when selecting a book to read? Do you always read the summaries, descriptions and author information before you buy?

This week's featured recipe in our COZY KITCHEN:


Nancy Jill Thames is the author of the Jillian Bradley Mysteries - stories often set in exclusive hotels and resorts, based on real life travel adventures with her husband of 44 years. Her mysteries incorporate her love of afternoon tea, which has earned her the title of “Queen of Afternoon Tea.” She holds a music degree from UT Austin and lives in Leander, Texas where she is a member of the Leander Writers Guild. She has won awards for her blogs,  a pie contest for her Chip Chocolate Cream Pie, and has been on the Author Watch Bestseller List numerous times. Nancy Jill is busy working on book 6 Waiting for Santa, a murder mystery taking place on Christmas Eve near Jillian Bradley’s home in Clover Hills.

To check out her books please visit the Cozy Book Store and her blogs: 
Cozy Mystery Author, Nancy Jill Thames
"Queen of Afternoon Tea" Celebrity Author Interviews

 Murder in Half Moon Bay 
The Ghost Orchid Murder 
From the Clutches of Evil 
The Mark of Eden and 
Pacific Beach


  1. Dear Nancy--I don't quite agree with the man on the plane:) I believe that for print books, covers are extremely important in a world where such high importance is placed on all things visual. The cover is your first impression on the reader. It draws them to look closer. Next in order of importance--the back cover blurb. Readers want to know what the book is about. The cover drew them. The blurb must be even more engaging. If the potential reader is still interested, they open the book and read the first paragraph or first page. If you make it past those three hurdles, you've got a customer--one who will be eager to purchase the book and curl up for a satisfying read.

  2. He was an Irishman! I tend to agree with you, Linda. Covers featuring men's torsos, women's legs and couples embracing are not going to be read by me. I run the other way! Your cover for "Misfortune Cookies" is on the money - very clever!

  3. I love a good cover, Nancy but you're right, some of those romance covers make me blush! Think of the first cover for Mario Puzo's, "The Godfather" with a marionette on it. Now that was so on the money--taken from one line in the book that summed up his entire motivation.

  4. Let's hear it for great cover designers!

  5. I can tell you my cover has sold many books for me. They are important.

    Debbie Malone
    Death in Dalonega


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