The “Ooh!” factor is what snags you, makes you pick up a book. It’s only after I’ve ogled that I flip that bad boy over or look at the jacket and find out what it’s about. But a cover isn’t really just about stopping book browsers in their tracks. They have to be true to the pages being covered.
Agents, editors, and authors, in conjunction with marketing and art departments, are dedicated to finding balance: a strong image that also speaks to the essence of the book—what the story is about, the tone, the character’s voice and appearance—everything. It’s rare that everyone agrees, and authors are sometimes hit hard when they have to relinquish creative control to the “Ooh!” factor. It helps to remember the folks in marketing are as much experts in the Art of “Ooh!” as the editors, agents, and authors are experts in the craft of writing. Ideally, everyone’s working to tell the same story.
I love First Contact’s cover because it captures the book’s quirk while also being an eye-catcher (how many yellow covers does one see in Borders?). I think You has that balance too—that stark, white pronoun seems to refer to you personally. There’s the in-your-face cover of The Duff (launched yesterday!). Are there covers that have particularly struck you recently? Any pick-this-up! images that also whispered hints of what you’d find inside?