Wednesday, 21 August 2013

 

Author cover quotes: Love them or loathe them?



There are many innovative ways for book publishers to promote a newly released title and one I'm seeing more and more of nowadays is the author cover quote. But does it really achieve what it sets out to do, i.e. persuade potential readers to buy a book?

For me personally, it has not had the desired effect. I've never bought a book based on the cover quote and on a few occasions I've even put a prospective buy back on the shelf because the addition of the quote put me off. Most of the time though, I hardly notice them when I'm browsing books in the shops (as I'm much more focussed on the title, author and cover image) and only realise they are there when I already own a copy of the novel and am in the middle of reading it.

Some issues I have with the inclusion of quotes, particularly on the front cover:

I dislike the quoted author. While cover quotes are supposed to make people excited for the novel in their hands, on several occasions the exact opposite has happened to me. There are a few authors whose books and writing I am not a fan of but they are extremely popular and a top pick amongst their genres for providing quotes to fellow authors. However, since I don't think very highly of them, their positive opinion will actively put me off trying a prospective new author because I assume (probably wrongfully so) that the book I'm considering picking up will be similar to the ones from the author-I-really-do-not-like.

It's aesthetically displeasing. I like clean covers but the addition of quotes makes them unnecessarily cluttered and oftentimes even gives them a unprofessional look. I think a front cover should focus on the title and author, and possibly an image to reflect the story. Any additional text, other than perhaps a brief line about the author such as "Sunday Times bestselling author" or "From the author of [include most popular title here]", only distracts from the more important features.

Writers are overused. Even not paying any particular attention to cover quotes I can't help but notice them when I'm reading a novel and since I tend to read the same few genres it's become clear to me that the same authors within these genres pop up again and again to provide a cover quote. This not only becomes tiresome but it also takes away from the credibility, as it seems they'll just about provide anyone with a quote.

Incorrect or misleading use. Because there is so little space to spare on a front cover the quote has to be incredibly short and to the point, which means it's often taken out of context and sometimes even slightly altered to fit this small area. This can give an incorrect perception of the quoted person's opinion of the novel. To add to that, on several occasions I've noticed the same quote pop up on different books by the same author (often a series). The quote was initially included on the first book published and was consequently repeated without making it clear that it is actually referring to an old title, which is a very misleading way of promoting a book.

So while I'm sure it's encouraging and exciting for (newly published) authors to know that a fellow (perhaps more established) author has read the book and is willing to attach their name to it with a positive comment and recommendation, I'm not so certain it is quite as important or effective from a reader's point of view.

I have nothing against author quotes in principle and they can be perfectly suited on the back cover (if the blurb is short enough, so it doesn't look overcrowded) or on a dedicated page in the front of the book. They can also be a great tool in other marketing campaigns, such as magazine ads and railway posters, but I personally wish they wouldn't clutter up so many otherwise gorgeous front covers.

What do you guys think? Have you ever read a (memorable) cover quote that persuaded you to purchase a book? Or perhaps has it had the opposite effect and did you quickly put a book back on the shelf because an author you don't like recommended it? It'd be great to read your input, positive or negative!

This is my first discussion post so I'd love it if you'd leave your thoughts below and perhaps share this post/RT it. And please be nice, whatever your opinion :)

4 comments:

  1. I have to agree with most of the things you've said, Zarina! It is usually the cover itself and the blurb that make me pick up a book or not, and usually I don't even notice the author cover quotes until I actually start reading the book at home! I do remember a few books about which I wasn't sure whether to get it or not, and then noticing a quote by one of my own favourite authors on the cover definitely convinced me to buy it. So, I guess it can sometimes have a positive effect, but most of the time I don't even notice them!

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    1. While I don't think the use of cover quotes is very effective, it is good to hear that occasionally you have bought purchased partly based on the cover quotes. Do you remember who the authors were that persuaded you and what they said? And did they end up being right in their recommendation or were the books not for you after all?

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  2. I'm not a fan of the quotes, what I'm not keen on is that some books have an author quote on which isn't for THAT book, but for a previous novel of theirs, and so it says that "the book was gripping", it's not actually that particular book they're talking about and it makes me uncertain on what quotes are true for the book.

    I like author quotes that are elsewhere such as the inside of the book or back cover because they usually state what book they're for and so it's clearer :)

    Meg xxxx

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    1. I agree, Megan! I recently started noticing the same quote appearing on different books by the same author and this unfortunately really takes away from the credibility as it makes you wonder what other quotes are in actual fact referring to an old title and not the book in your hands... This is probably mainly due to lack of space on a front cover as they cannot clarify it's a quote for another book, so it's definitely better suited inside where they can add an extra line to say "praise for [previous title]".

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