Book covers need to be attractive, so that people are drawn to them in some way. It might be that a beautiful or intriguing image captures their attention or that the colour chosen is one that appeals to them. Our covers also need to be appropriate for the particular novel, giving some sense or glimpse of what lies inside. And, of course, the title and other wording on the cover has to interest potential customers enough to cause them to decide to make that purchase.In my opinion, covers also have to look as professional as possible. Here in Australia at least, Christian novelists cannot afford to have their books appear second rate in any way. There is already enough scepticism out there in the secular world about Christians, without our producing work that reinforces their opinion that we don’t know what we’re doing! Anyway, who wants to produce something less than honouring to God? Surely God deserves our best efforts? Besides, with such a wide variety of imported novels in our Christian bookstores here, we have to ensure our own home-grown efforts will be noticed and look as good as those overseas ones!
But it can be quite a journey, I’ve discovered, to decide what aspect of my novel needs to be picked up on that cover and then to find that photo that conveys the essence of the story or depicts the characters or setting as I imagined them. With the two different publishers I have had in my writing career, I have very much valued being able to suggest cover concepts and even particular images. Yet I have also been glad that, in the end, my publishers were the ones who had to search long and hard at times for that perfect image and make the final decision about how much they were prepared to pay for that ideal cover!In September, my sixth novel, The Inheritance, is due for release by Even Before Publishing. Months ago, my publisher and I created a cover for it that depicted the story well, yet was not totally successful. It looked a little dull and dated, and we felt it might not appeal enough to its intended market. Yet it was needed for inclusion in a catalogue, so we went ahead. But just recently, we had a second attempt—and ended up with an entirely different result! The first time around, we had focused on the specific setting of the novel, but this time we went for a more modern image with only a general sense of place about it (see photo). I am very happy with it—yet I’m aware it’s all such a matter of personal taste. Some will love it and some will no doubt hate it, but we have done our best, given the time and resources available.
And that’s all God expects, don’t you think?
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of five published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Her sixth novel, The Inheritance, will be released in September. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com or www.soulfriend.com.au.