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What makes you head for the register -- a big knife? Illustrated veggies? A blurb from Alice Waters? (Flickr)

Judge A Book By Its Cover — Everyone Does!

Apr 6, 2011

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Sarah Handel

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You know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But admit it, you totally do. And authors know it. Matthew Galloway at The Awl spoke with several authors about their experiences with cover designs and blurbs, including one of my very favorites, Kate Christensen. Each was asked six questions, including how much of their input their publishers wanted on cover design, and how they solicited blurbs. Some gems...

Christensen: "The cover for the hardback of Trouble made me unhappy, but no one would budge on it, so there it stayed. My mother thought it was a picture of me; I thought it was flat-out weird. I still dislike it."

Bennett Madison: "I absolutely hated the cover of my first book. I complained a little and they changed it enough to make me hate it so much more! So the moral of the story there is, no matter how bad it is it can always be made worse with hot-pink I Dream of Jeannie harem pants."

Mark Jude Poirier: "Asking for blurbs is humiliating and horrible. If your editor and or publicist can do it for you, you're lucky. If left on your own, ask writer friends or professors ... If you ask someone for a blurb, and they write you a decent one, use it! I once was asked to write a blurb for a friend so I diligently reread his novel — I had read earlier drafts. He didn't use my blurb, which was a good blurb, damn it! I would have understood if my blurb had been knocked off the jacket by blurbs from Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie and Annie Proulx, but no; my blurb was knocked off by blurbs from writers just as obscure as I am. Feelings check: hurt."

Take heed, authors current and future!

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