Covers–How Important Are They?

   New York Times bestselling author



K A T   M A R T I N 


 Historical Romance ·Contemporary · Romantic Suspense



The cover of a novel is the single most important ingredient in the success or failure of a book.  This isn’t something authors want to hear and it’s not always true.  If the book is special enough and it gets lots of word-of-mouth, even a bad cover can’t stop the book from being a success. 

If the author’s name is well known–and I am speaking of New York Times bestsellers with very large print runs–a bad cover can’t stop the book from being a success.

However most of us fall in the category where a cover can make the difference between success and failure. 

Over the years, I’ve had good covers and bad.  One of the prettiest covers I ever had was on a book called MIDNIGHT RIDER.  The problem was the cover was completely white.  The lovely embossed bird on the front didn’t show up until the reader picked up the book.  Not many did!   

The title may have been another part of the problem.  It was chosen by the publisher and no amount of talking could convince them to change it.  The combination of bad cover and bad title was lethal.   The book was my biggest failure and I think it was one of my better books.

Starting May 1st, my Sinclair Sisters Trilogy is going to be re-issued.  The first in the series is MIDNIGHT SUN, a fish-out of water Romantic Suspense set in Alaska.  The covers on these three books were extremely plain, just colors and the title.  And I have to admit the title, MIDNIGHT SUN, isn’t that exciting.   I’ve never been particularly good at titles, which makes the cover even more important. 

Since changing a book title is very confusing to readers, the publisher is simply changing the cover, putting a guy on the front, which has become sort of a brand for my Romantic Suspense books.   I’m not crazy about the new cover for MIDNIGHT SUN.  For one thing, I just met the cover model, Lynn Gunn and he his absolutely gorgeous–and a terrific guy.  I don’t think the cover does him justice.  Still, it’s interesting, and I’m hoping readers will pick it up and give the book a try.

If you enjoy Romantic Suspense and haven’t read MIDNIGHT SUN, I hope you’ll give it a try.  The other books in the series are DESERT HEAT and DEEP BLUE and they get new covers, as well.  Hope you enjoy them all and that you also watch for my new releases.  You can reach me on my website:

 Very best wishes, Kat



 Kat is giving away a copy of Midnight Sun to one lucky commentator!



Now here’s an except from Kat’s exciting novel:





  Manhattan, New York

     “I don’t believe it.  You can’t actually mean to go through with this.”  Jeremy paced over to the dresser in the bedroom where Charity stood studying each piece of clothing she intended to take on her trip.      

     “You can’t possibly mean to quit your job, give up your apartment, and go off to some godforsaken town in the wilderness.”

      Charity flicked him only the briefest of glances and continued to fold her sweatshirt, a red one with a little red-and-white-checked collar she thought was particularly warm.

     “It isn’t as if you didn’t know this was going to happen,” she said.  “I’ve been planning this for weeks.  I told you the day I made the decision to leave.  As you do with anything that doesn’t fit into your plans, you simply chose not to believe it.”

     His crossed the room and reached for her, turned her to face him.  “Think about what you’re doing, Charity.  Think what you’re giving up.  You’ve got a good job at Glenbrook Publishing.  You just got promoted to senior editor, forgodsake.”

     “I gave them notice weeks ago, Jeremy.  They’ve already replaced the position.”

      “They’d take you back in a heartbeat and you know it.  You’re destroying your career, but if that isn’t enough–what about me?” 

      At five foot ten, with his perfectly styled jet-black hair and deep green eyes, Jeremy Hauser was undeniably attractive.  When Charity had met him at a literacy fundraiser two years ago, she had fallen like a rock for his debonair good looks, Wall Street polish and charm.  After dating him–practically living with him in his swanky Eastside apartment–she knew how self-centered, how totally self-absorbed he could be.

      She caught the hand he raised to her cheek and drew it away.  “We’ve had two years, Jeremy.  We’ve shared good times and bad, but you know as well as I do, things haven’t been great with us for the last six months.  Maybe putting some space between us will help decide where our relationship is headed.”

      Or if, as Charity suspected, it was headed nowhere at all.

      “There’s nothing wrong with our relationship.  I’ll admit I’ve been a little stressed-out lately.  I’m up for that promotion and you know how much I want it.”  He gave her one of his most charming smiles.  “I realize I haven’t been very good company, but give up this crazy scheme of yours and I’ll make it up to you–I promise.”

      “I’m sorry, Jeremy.  I think this goes way beyond being good company.  We haven’t even made love in nearly a month.”

      He paled a little at hearing her come right out and say it.  Jeremy had always been reserved in the bedroom, which in the beginning she’d found rather sweet.  The truth was, sex just wasn’t a driving factor in Jeremy’s life.  He was always too tired, too busy, too rushed.  Mostly, he was just too preoccupied with his own needs to care all that much about hers.

      She turned away from him, reached for a pair of Liz Claiborne jeans and started to roll them up.  Jeremy leaned over and gently blew against her ear.

      “Don’t go,” he said softly, kissing the side of her neck.  “We’ll work things out, I swear it.”

      Charity eased away from him.  “Don’t, Jeremy, please.  Not now.”

      “All right, what do you want me to do?  What do I have to say to make you give up this crazy idea and stay in Manhattan?  You want to move in with me?  Okay, that’s what we’ll do.  Finish packing your things and I’ll have a moving truck her to pick them up tomorrow afternoon.”

      There was a time that was exactly what she had wanted.  She had believed Jeremy Hauser was the man of her dreams.  It hadn’t taken long to discover he wasn’t.  She still didn’t know how she’d convinced herself for more than a year that he would change and things would work out between them.

      “I don’t want to move in with you, Jeremy.  I want to do exactly what I’ve got planned.  I want to fly out of JFK on Canada Airlines tomorrow morning at seven twenty-nine a.m.  I want to land in Vancouver, change planes and fly to Whitehorse, where, after nearly eleven hours in the air and a two-hour layover, I’ll be so exhausted I’ll crawl into my bed at the River View Motel without even turning on the TV.  The following day, I want to pick up the Ford Explorer I’ve leased from National Rent-A-Car and be on my way to Dawson City.” 

      He looked so stunned Charity reached out and caught hold of his hand.  “I know this is hard for you to understand, but I’m twenty-eight years old and I’ve never done a single thing that’s really exciting.  Just once, I want to have an adventure.  Haven’t you ever wanted to do something a little bit crazy?  Something you’ve secretly wanted to do but never had the nerve?”


      She sighed.  “Both my sisters are doing things that are interesting and exciting.  Patience is getting ready to go on the rodeo circuit and Hope is traveling around the country, writing freelance magazine articles.  They’re living their dreams and I want to live mine, too.”

      “Patience is doing research for her PHD,” Jeremy argued, “and Hope is trying to salvage her flagging writing career.  You have a very successful career.  You’re a fiction editor at a well-respected publishing house.  You should be happy with that.”

     “Well, I’m not, and I’m tired of arguing with you about it.”  She turned and ushered him out of the bedroom, tugged him across her small living room to the front door.  “Go home, Jeremy.”  She removed the chain lock and pulled the door open.  “I have a feeling that as soon as I’m gone, you’re going to realize our relationship wasn’t going anywhere anyway.  You might even be grateful to have your freedom again.”

      Jeremy’s mouth thinned but he didn’t argue.  He wasn’t in love with her and deep down he knew it–she was simply a convenience.  That kind of relationship was enough for Jeremy but not for her.

      “You’re going to be sorry, Charity,” he said stepping out into the hallway.  “Unfortunately, by the time you figure that out, it’s going to be too late.”


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22 thoughts on “Covers–How Important Are They?”

  1. Hi, Kat : ) Congrats on “Midnight Sun”! Terrific exerpt, and I don’t think any cover with Len Gunn will go unappreciated! I am a cover lover. For me a story is most enjoyable when the cover and back blurb match the characters and the story line detail of the book. It is very disconcerting to be drawn to a book by its exterior and then find that the content doesn’t match. That is a nightmare for authors and not enjoyable for the reader. However, that can be overcome by the skill of the writer in bringing the characters to life. I have read a few books where the appearance of the characters was never really mentioned, and visualizing them was based mostly on their words and actions. Sometimes this will work, but again, it depends on the skill of the author. I prefer to have a clear idea of the image of each character as I read along. Then the added personality elements as the story unfolds enhance the physical image of the character and allow me to really follow them as they move through the story line. I enjoy images of handsome men with strong, muscular physiques. Let’s face it beautiful men are…bodacious : ) Headless shots of terrific torsos can be drool-worthy, but they lack personality. I like a face to go with the physique. A face with some hint of the person inside. I also think that titles can play a large role in the successful acceptance of a book by the public. A poorly matched title, one that is too long, or one that is simply unappealing, can all detract from the content of the book. Having said that, I know that I could read a great book without a title or cover, and I would still be impressed. The trick is to find a “short but sweet” title that makes an impact and leaves a lasting link to the book.

  2. Congrats on the reissue of your book. I love the cover! The cover is what draws my eye to a book but the blurp on the back is what sells it to me. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yep those covers are really important (shallow but true)but I have learnt the hard way ‘ don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ but a good cover gives a visual impression of the books content. However Two of the best books i have read had covers that turned me off the books, just due to boredom and luck I ended up reading them. I still get drawn to check out a book by what is on the cover but like the quilt lady (comment above) it’s then the blurb on the back that sells the book. The re issue cover for midnight sun is very much more appealing( yep shallow again). Cheers Rosheen

  4. A cover does catch your eye and draws you in but the story line is what matters to me in the end. Of course some I would not have picked up in the first place without the cover catching my eye.

    However I am an author follower so no matter what the cover when I have read a book by a particular author I will pick it up.

  5. I always look at the cover. I have a kindle but some books I still want the paperback because of the cover.

  6. Welcome back, Kat! It’s great to have you blogging with us again. You’re becoming like family. Congrats on the re-release of MIDNIGHT SUN. I like this new cover a whole lot better than the original. It has more personality. I think it’ll do well for you. Whoever wins the free book will be a lucky person. I’m wishing you much success.

  7. Great cover and excerpt. Congrats on the re-release of the Sinclair Sisters Trilogy. I think covers are a very important part of a book. The cover and the writing and characters have to match. There have been times where I have picked up a book because I really liked the cover. Sometimes I was disappointed but most times I got lucky and found a great, new author to me.

  8. If I know the author I don’t care about titles or covers but I guess a great cover will attract me to the book but I have to like the back blurb. Titles aren’t as important to me. I alway thought authors should have more say in both though. I’ve enjoyed your books so for me it doesn’t matter 🙂 Congrats on the re-issue and I think it’s a very nice cover!

  9. I love the bookcovers. That is what draws me to a book but I still check the back to see what it says. With my Kindle, I look online to see the covers before buying and again when I decide which book I am going to read.

  10. Morning ya’ll! I guess covers turned out to be a good discussion. i’ve had some I hated that readers loved (that’s not often!). Though I loved Lynn Gunn, this wasn’t my fav, but it’s defintely better than the boring original. the best covers I’ve ever had are on the Against books. Against the Sun, out end of May, is absolutely yummy. hopefully, I’ll be back here with you all to talk about that one, too.
    Meantime, great to be here as always. love ya,kat

  11. Hi Kat,

    Great excerpt! I’ll have to add MIDNIGHT SUN to my tbr pile.

    A great cover really can sell a book. But I also hate when the cover has nothing to do with the story, and the characters are described completely different.

    Hope you have great success with the re-release!


  12. I just checked my TBR mountain and found MIDNIGHT RIDER. I’ve pulled it for my next book to read.

    It is a lovely cover. I actually prefer covers along those lines or something with a nice landscape. I didn’t read romances for a long time because of the “bodice ripper” type covers. If I am familiar with the author, the cover doesn’t matter that much. With any book I pick up, I will read the blurb and decide if it is a story I’d like.

    It is true that the cover should give an indication of what type of sub-genre you are getting into. Something that looks sweet and innocent but turns out to be erotica or m/m will not make for a happy reader who gets way more than they expect or want. That being said, The “regular” romances that have more revealing covers do make it difficult for the genre in general to be taken seriously. Admittedly, it is convenient excuse for those who don’t want to give credit to the quality of writing being done. I understand the necessity for a cover to stand out so the browsing shopper will pick it up and read the blurb. With the wide variety of readers out there, you must aim at getting the most attention.
    Certain cover styles seem to take turns being popular. For a while it was involved couples, then headless individuals, then lovely dresses, now it seems to be women’s thighs and men who can’t keep their shirts buttoned. They have all been around in one form or another for years. I still prefer covers that are on the discreet side, but I will check out the others.

    I know you have little control over the covers or the depiction of the character, but the publishers should pay more attention. I just finished a book that described both the hero and heroine as fair with blond, almost white hair and blue eyes. Both were doctors. The cover – two dark haired individuals, he with no shirt and a pistol in his waistband. No relation to the characters or the story. I like to get my own picture of the characters from the authors description. Sometimes they match the cover, more often, not.

    I have rambled enough. I guess we (both author and reader) just need to hope for a cover we like that will attract people to the book. No one will buy it if it doesn’t get their attention.

    I hope the rerelease of this series goes well. I just checked my stash and do not have any of them. More books to look for and enjoy. I have never been disappointed in any of your books that I have read.

  13. I go for books from authors I know, so the covers do not influence me there… If it an unfamiliar author for me and I happen to see a cover that catches my eye, I will give it a glance and see if the blurb is one that I would enjoy… Love re-releases… gives me another chane at a book I previoulsy missed out on! 😀

  14. Great excerpt!

    I don’t really pay much attention to book covers. I buy by recommendation(family, friends, blogs, review sites) and author.

  15. I am one of those who may be attracted to a book by its cover but the blurb on the back has to sell it to me. Sometimes I’ll read the first 2 or 3 pages if the blurb hasn’t quite sold me. I really hate covers that don’t fit the story and that’s when I’m glad I have fabric book covers my mother-in-law gave me. Then my imagination can provide images of the characters and not be distracted by someone elses ideas. I once read a book about a WWI veteran and the cover had a man in buckskins leading a wagon train!!! (The story was an excellent look at veterans trying to overcome morphine addiction and build a new life.) What were the publishers thinking?

  16. Covers to me are important for they give a hint as to what the story is about (usually a western book has a horse on it). I can tell if it might be about a pirate, a Viking or a fireman. Then, i pick up the book and read the back cover to see if I want to read the book.
    I just saw a copy of Johanna Lindsay’s Let Love Find You. It is a really sexy cover.
    Of course, some of my favorite authors could just have their name on a plain brown cover and i would read it.
    I enjoy reading your books and I looked at my list and I did read Midnight Rider when it had the white cover.

  17. I went to your webpage and understand what you mean about Midnight Rider… I’m always attracted to cover art [and it’s what I miss on my kindle]. and then the blurb… I do wonder sometimes what the publisher was thinking… the cover doesn’t match the story or the main characters aren’t protrayed correctly [hair color, etc.].

  18. Covers are super important to me! In fact, I even wrote an email to Harlequin earlier this year about covers that “bugged me”!!! As a reader, I don’t like it when they get covers wrong! I told them that I don’t like it when they put the wrong hair color on the characters on the cover, or the wrong hair length on the heroine or the wrong anything! It’s such a pet peeve of mine! Readers notice things like that! I enjoyed your comments!

  19. I too agree about the covers,,it gives a glimpse of whats inside,,you never see ugly fat,bald covers,,,lol,,no one wants that vision in their heads when reading,,you want that sexy stud that just looks yummy,,or at least I do,,lol

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