Laura Resnick has a terrific series of five articles on book covers on her website under “A Book By Its Cover.” Considering the significant impact a good or bad cover can have on book sales in stores (especially if the reader doesn’t know who you are), it’s well worth the time to read these. Here’s her summary of what the articles cover:
I: Cover Karma
How does a book’s cover affect sales, and consequently a writer’s career? Why are some books (and some writers) uniquely blessed or cursed? What did a publisher do right (or wrong) with regard to a given cover? How do publishers ensure success (or stumble into disaster) when planning a book’s cover?
II: Green Books Don’t Sell
Yesterday’s conventional wisdom becomes today’s common misconceptions as art directors from New York’s major publishing houses explain the step-by-step process of giving a book a cover.
III: But I Wrote the Damn Thing!
If author input were actively desired in the cover process, somebody would have mentioned it by now. Nonetheless, there are constructive, productive, and useful ways for an author to contribute to the cover process; there are also contractual ways to gain influence over this process.
IV: Steal This Cover!
Next to word of mouth, the cover is the single most important means by which an author reaches new readers. Find out how this has led to increasingly ruthless and volatile competition among publishers, and why people who don’t even read often have more influence over a book’s cover than the author, the editor, the cover artist, or the art director.
V: Worth A Thousand Words
A profile of three illustrators: sf/f cover artist Michael Whelan, winner of many Hugo, Howard, and Chesley Awards; romance cover artist Pino, with over 1,500 covers to his credit; and Janny Wurts, a bestselling sf/f novelist who is also an award-winning cover artist.