I was strolling along the vast lines of shelves in a Chapters Bookstore in Canada this week when I came across a new edition of Colleen McCullough's novel The Thorn Birds. I was struck by the cover - and not in a good way. This appears to be a prime example of everything indie authors are advised to avoid in order not to look like amateurs. There's a stock image of a woman - so far so good - but a house is plopped randomly in the bottom corner and a fussy blue border distracts the eye on three sides. The title sits uncomfortably over both house and face, and the shoutline beneath the author name is unreadable at almost any distance. The unfocussed face has vague blotches across it and the whole thing looks as if it was put together by an untalented teenager new to Photoshop. Is this what mainstream publishers have been reduced to as their bean-counters force them to cut costs?
Thank goodness we indie authors have the time and resources to produce good, well-designed covers that explain the genre and entice the reader while pleasing the eye. We aren't forced to conform to a publisher's business model but can create something worthwhile and appropriate to our work.
Here are some of the other cover versions of The Thorn Birds through the decades - see if you can spot the one you read back in 1977 or in the intervening years.
That's all for now from the summery wilds of Ontario. Keep on writing!