You’re Wrong, Image is Everything

quill“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. It’s a ridiculous sentiment propagated by people trying to lie to everyone, including themselves, that what you see on the outside means nothing. The human race have done this very thing for its entire existence, for its very existence. Judging is what we do, it’s how we stay alive, and it has worked for everyone still breathing. To deny that we judge is to deny that we categorize, or evaluate, or think for ourselves – the very antithesis of what that statement is supposed to mean.

Judging is how we decide what to do next, without it we are relegated to chance or the experience of others. That stove element looks on but I shouldn’t judge, maybe it just needs a hug. To ignore our first impressions is to ignore our instincts, and while a book is not likely to bite, it’s sure capable of boring you to death. What I like, what I’m interested in, is personal to me. You can’t make that judgment call, and demeaning my own understanding of myself is fallacy on your part. If that book cover doesn’t convince me to pick it up – that’s the authors fault, not mine.

You, as an author, have an obligation to your book; To give it a cover worthy of its contents. Deciding to use a generated cover, or simply words, says to the potential reader one of two things: One, I ‘m not willing to invest into it, or two, I have all the imagination of a guppy. Neither of these will win you any merit, and very few people will bother to dig deeper. Fiction or non-fiction, your flower in the forest needs to stand out or it will wither and die.

Expecting others to sift through… in an effort to locate the ‘inner beauty’ that is your book, is arrogance.

Good news for those of you with no artistic talent – there are others that have plenty. The internet is the worlds largest art museum, free for the looking. The creative commons, free-to-use markets, may elicit the perfect cover for you, but that’s highly unlikely. People with talent have long figured out that they can charge money for their work, and do so to fuel their passions. You can find some fantastic images that can be licensed for a pittance. ShutterStock, for instance, offers two images at $15 a piece for unlimited electronic (read: ebook) usage. At that price, the only excuse you have for not doing so is a lack of respect for your own work.

Telling yourself that “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” is equivalent to closing your eyes while crossing a busy street. The literary universe is expanding at a rate of thousands of books a day. Expecting others to sift through even a days submissions in an effort to locate the ‘inner beauty’ that is your book, is arrogance. Help people see what’s on the inside by showing it to them on the outside.


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