Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Judging a Cover By Its Book

by Ariella Papa

I never met a cover of mine that I didn’t like. I know some authors who hate what they wind up with, but not me. From the first time I saw the sketch for my debut novel – there were donuts worked in-  to every random copy of my novels in numerous translations, I love them all. I have a couple of covers framed in my house and one day when I win that Mega Millions jackpot or get that big option, I will wallpaper the writer’s room in my eco-friendly lake house in book covers. The Danish version of Up&Out is super cool (at least I think that’s what it is).
I guess it’s because when I see the cover I know that the book is soon to follow and I am grateful again that this is all happening. Maybe if I were a NY Times bestselling author I would be more picky, but I doubt it. I love seeing the way an artist decides to translate my book.
Things are a little bit different now that I am epublishing. I am told that covers aren’t as important in epublishing. People who buy ebooks aren’t browsing covers they say, but I don’t know if I buy it. Either way, now that I intimately involved in the process of creating the cover, I definitely want it to be good.
I am lucky that I am good friends with someone who makes covers for actual books for a real publishing company and she (I’ll call her Joan since we both like Mad Men and she is a sassy redhead) will trade a good meal for a book cover. It’s a win-win for me, because I love her style and this is great reason to go back to Brooklyn Fare.
For my first epublished book Momfriends Joan gave me three different options. We went with a style that would appeal to my chick-lit fans. The cover was pink and had three different sets of shoes to represent the three women in the story. I asked for a tweak of the middle shoes to differentiate it more from the other two and Joan put in the cute blue kicks she happened to be wearing. I loved it. It totally got the vibe of the book.

Then I decided I was going to epublish some short stories. All of these stories were set around Y2K, and sort of went together in my head. What I really needed was six separate covers. I needed covers that were different, but tied together. It was probably time to move away from pink. Joan suggested keeping some stylistic elements like my name placement and certain typography. I suggested incorporating some iconography from the stories and this is what we wound up with.

Again, I love it! As I release each story that story's name will be the boldest, but all the names are still there. I’m working on a little trailer based on the cover.
I’ve wanted to publish these Turn of the Century Stories for some time and I will be epublishing one every couple of months over this year. It’s kind of an experiment and we’ll see how it goes.  In content and cover this is a departure for me and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
 Because these books are epublished and I don’t get to hold the tangible book, seeing this cover was the moment where I started to feel like this book was going to be real.

 What are YOUR cover stories? Are you always happy? Is epublishing changing how you think about them?

Ariella Papa is releasing Turn of The Century Stories all year long. Find out more about her at or like her on facebook


  1. Such a cool post, Ariella! And I really love these covers, too. Especially Momfriends.

    I've had a similar experience-- I've loved all of my book covers. It would be so strange to hate your book covers. Kind of like thinking your kid wasn't cute!

    1. I love it! You're allowed to think OTHER people's kids and covers aren't cute, but never your own.

    2. Great post - and great covers!

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  3. First I'd like to say how much I LOVED Up & Out when I read it. I'm not Greek but grew up in a neighbourhood that was heavily Greek so reading about a main character with that background was very interesting to me - it's not one you see often. Also, it was a great story.

    When my debut novel Fashionably Late came out in 2008 it was the beginning of the end of the pastel/cartoonish cover phase. My publisher came out with two covers - the pastel one (in my case it was a Middle Eastern looking character in a bikini against a yellow and orange background, palm trees swaying - I loved, loved, loved it). The second one was in the what I'll call the second generation of chick lit covers style - that of various sections of a faceless female body, usually fashionably clad feet, a pair of legs, maybe even a complete body with the head disappearing under the title or author's name. I hated that second cover, with the swimmer in a bathing suit that looked like it was purchased from an Adidas outlet circa 1986.

    The publisher went with the ugly bathing suit cover.

    I wasn't exactly thrilled.

    Now, many years later, when I look at the cover I wonder if maybe they were right, that the cartoon character with chocolate hair and caramel highlights would have been fun but also, just a little bit dated.

    PS - for the mass market paperback edition they came up with a happy middle - a pair of tan legs reclining in a hammock which captured the Caribbean vacation feel of the novel. I was much happier with that one.

    1. Oh, thank you. I'm glad you like my books and I hope you can check out the others.

      Congrats on your debut novel, I look forward to reading it. The mass market is the one that will probably have a longer shelf-life, so it's good that you were happy with that.

  4. When will your first short story be released on Amazon?

    1. It's up now. It's called Hotlanta and the next one is coming VERY soon.

  5. Thanks, I bought both of them :)