This can be a good rule of thumb when dealing with a person’s character or the taste of an unfamiliar cuisine, but ironically it is widely ignored when it comes down to actual books. Browsing in a bookstore for reading material, the casual book purchaser is almost always going to be looking for something that catches his or her eye. The first key element is to convey a sense of what the book is, both in terms of tone and genre. The second element is clarity of key information, particularly the title and the authors name but also potentially parts of the blurb and even superlative quotes. While it is certainly not always true in practice, an amateurish cover suggests an amateurish work, while a top-quality cover suggests content of similar caliber. To say that it has been a difficult month with my beautiful tween daughter is, well, a major understatement.
They know they should start thinking about taking better care of their hygience and caring about their appearance, but they just aren’t there yet. They want to experiment with swear words so they let a damn or a shit or a Jesus Christ slip every now and then, even though they know they shouldn’t.
That place where they want to be treated like an adult but they still act like a child most of the time. They kind of hate that girl at school because she is the meanest person ever to walk the face of the planet earth, but the next day they kind of don’t.


They kind of want to be grown-up and sit in their bed and listen to Taylor Swift belt out Shake It Off on Spotify through their headphones, but they also want to play hide and seek outside with their little brother and sister. Their siblings are absolutely the most annoying human beings to ever be born and they wish to GAWD they were an only child, but they wouldn’t mind if once in awhile they got a snuggle from one of those siblings at bedtime. I proceed upon each day with caution, fearing I may say or do the wrong thing that will land me in tween purgatory roasting over the hot flames of their unexpected wrath that hath no mercy. So when my daughter presented me with an offering of what appeared to be outright peace and love, I proceeded with caution. I tried to contain my wonder and surprise at this unexpected show of affection, but I fear my deer in the headlights look may have been a dead giveaway.
I now know that becoming a Grand Parent is reward for parenting a teenager…Add tweenager to that and wait a few years for your reward. The cover is often the first thing that potential readers use to get an impression of a book, even before noticing the title or the author’s name, let alone the blurb on the back. It should be both evocative and informative, both establishing your book as part of a genre or type while also giving an impression of what makes the book unique. A compelling headline on the back of the book will help draw readers in and help the slow seduction of potential buyers to the cashier. Until a reader has really sat down and began to consume your work, they can have no idea how much of your heart and soul you have invested into it.


With these three elements in mind, you will be soon on your way to creating the perfect cover for your book. My own littles are just that – little (2 and 4 months) but I teach 6th graders and I’d say they fall in the tween category! This becomes the lure, a subtle bait that catches the interest and compels a potential reader to pick up the book, feel it in his or her hands, and perhaps crack it open and check out what’s inside. Careful selection of artwork, designs and typefaces that accord with the voice of your book is key.
They can, however, get an impression as to how much you cared about making sure the book looked great from the outside.
But I will say that being stuck in the middle childhood and adulthood is a confusing place to be. At that point, the quality of your writing and the tastes of the reader will take over, but getting to that stage requires the subtle seduction of a great book cover.
I thought we were supposed to be leery of teenagers and the wrath of hellfire they bring to the household, but it turns out it is the tween that should be feared.



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