Judging a book by its cover

You should never judge a book by its cover, unless of course you are deciding whether or not to read it. For before you read it, how else can you judge it?

Reviews on Amazon, recommendations by friends and the “blurb” on the back all help, but it’s the cover that has the first and potentially biggest impact.

So, given the critical importance of a book’s cover, I am pleased to reveal the cover of my forthcoming novel, The Yoga Sutras, to be published April 2014:


The Yoga Sutras is a darkly comic tale of sex, lies and spiritual enlightenment.

Dave has problems and yoga is just the latest. His wife communicates with him via Post-it notes, his six-year-old daughter torments him and tells him he’s a loser and his yoga teacher appears to be a physical incarnation of the Hindu Goddess of Creation and Destruction. Dave looks for answers to his problems in a book, and not just any book. The two-thousand year old Yoga Sutras is the Bible of yoga, but the more Dave reads, the less he understands. As he begins to hear voices and angels descend from the heavens, can Dave fathom the Yoga Sutras, save his marriage, learn to do yoga without falling over, and discover the secret of happiness before disaster strikes?

Warning – this book contains nudity, strong language and some scenes of a philosophical nature.

Any feedback would be much appreciated. Does the book cover work? Does the description attract or repel you, or both? How do you choose a book? Cover? Description? Reviews? I am eager to hear from you.

22 responses to “Judging a book by its cover

  1. Kama Sutras, yes. Yogo Sutras? meh!

    Okay, that was my attempt at being topical and witty, and I probably failed at both. So let me start over again.

    I like the cover with its graven dragon image and subtitle. I also like the short blurb. Both are attention-getting.

    How do I choose a book? Well, in today’s world of book downloads, it’s not typically due to its cover or even the blurb on the back or the inside front flap. It’s all about recommendations from people whose opinions about books I trust. I do the Sunday book insert in my local paper, or the “Review of Books” section in The Week magazine. And I will occasionally look at reviews on Amazon. Choosing what book to read is such a personal matter and there are so many to choose from, that hearing someone I know and respect say something good about a book is what typically drives me to choose it.

  2. My reaction to the cover: But the dragon is not a Hindu symbol! (Unnecessary dissonance.)

    I choose a book by reading the recommendations. Good reviews trump bad cover online. (Maybe not as much while shopping in a bookstore.)

    • Interesting – two people thought it was a dragon. It is actually a serpent and relevant to the plot of the book (think Garden of Eden).
      When choosing a book I always read the one star reviews first, but that’s just me, I expect.

      • I read one star reviews too. But if they’re just “This book sucks” or “Worst book ever”, then I don’t pay attention to them. When someone is rating a book so low, I expect them to take the time to elaborate what exactly turned them off.

  3. Ha ha! I always choose a book by its cover. Is there any other way? Not sure what the dragon is meant to refer to here? It looks rather Chinese, love your name though!

  4. “When choosing a book I always read the one star reviews first, but that’s just me, I expect.” And me…

    Truthfully, most of the books I buy are quilting books, either for my own or for my guild’s library. And I DO check the poor reviews first, as they are often enlightening. And when I check books out from the e-library, I usually do so based on someone else’s recommendation or on my own interest. But then I take a look at the synopsis. Of course there’s no cost if I don’t read them, though I do try to “return” them quickly if I’m not going to.

    • If the one-star reviews are like “this book is boring” I ignore them, but if they resonate with me, I often trust those reviews most. If there are no one-star reviews, I get suspicious … hopefully my own book will receive some one-star reviews (but not too many!)

      • One thing I’ve found lately is people reviewing their USED book condition. So they might give 2 stars if “it’s a pretty helpful book, but the cover was bent when I got it and there was some writing in pencil in the margins…” duh… But THAT is enlightening, too.

  5. My two cents about the cover (I apologize in advance if I’ve been too harsh):

    I don’t like the cover that much. I think that description on the front is unnecessary and takes away attention from the image (which is really good). The cover looks crowded and doesn’t look like that of a ‘darkly comic’ novel. I actually thought that this is a serious philosophical story about life (the dragon looks menacing). Also, your name at the bottom is not placed symmetrically and that leaves a lot of unbalanced space at the bottom. You should span it in one line at the bottom and reduce the font size a little bit. Also, you might consider typing it in capital letters.

    What surprised me though, is the use of the dragon. If I’m not wrong, the Dragon isn’t related to Yoga or even Kama Sutra in any way. In fact, it is symbolic of China and not India (where Yoga and Kama Sutra come from). So, it is misleading to see it on the cover as it makes me think that the story is somehow related to China.

    Coming to the blurb, on one quick read, it doesn’t really make me want to go for it. I can see neither any darkly comic aspect of the book in the blurb nor the philosophical meanderings that it promises. It has to be darker/wittier or more mysteriously philosophical. This one just doesn’t cut it for me. It is far too matter-of-fact and ordinary.

    P.S. Oh! I see that it’s actually a serpent! But even so, the garden of Eden story is also not about Yoga or Kama Sutra. In fact, in Indian mythology there is no such story. Also, I think people are confusing it to be a dragon because of the teeth and the arched eyebrow (if I can call it that).

  6. So I asked for feedback, and I am getting some frank feedback. That is good. That is very good. Thank you. That will help me to succeed, once I have picked myself up from the floor and redesigned my book cover and description.

    Please keep the harsh comments coming. I no longer feel any pain 🙂

    • Come on Steve! You can take this! You should see some of the comments I get about my impeccable fashion sense…:-)

    • I no longer feel any pain. 🙂

      ROFL. I am really sorry but I can see why you see it as a snake (bcz of the body). I see it as a dragon bcz of the head.
      I think the colour scheme and the fonts are really nice. You could make the caption font size smaller. It is your name and the book’s name that should be more prominent.

      But then again, advice and criticism is always free on the internet. And I have a theory:- if only 5 – 10 people give you advice, you might bury yourself under blankets and tissues.. but once it gets past that number, you stop caring and do what you wanted to do anyway..

      SO, I really hope you get more advice, so you can damn it without feeling answerable to a few.

      • The reason I see it as a snake is because the image is called “Serpent”!!! But I understand why everyone thinks it looks like a Chinese dragon, and I understand why that is a problem.

        I do appreciate the advice I have received here. I am using this as an opportunity to make the book cover better.

  7. Your blog sounds interesting and inspiring .. hope to see more. Thank you for sharing and best wishes always … 🙂

  8. Oh, stick with the Dragon/Serpent. People who judge by the cover will be attracted to the dragonness of it. Serpents are just not nearly as seductive (Eve probably mistook her serpent for a dragon, otherwise she would have run away screaming. Trust me on this). Recently my daughter painted a music stand for an fundraising event. Her subject matter included a pink dragon.A little girl fell in love with it and got her parents to buy it. So stay away from pink unless you are writing for 7 year old females, otherwise, I vote for the cover as is.
    I will be attracted to a book cover, but will invariably read the blurb and get
    turned off because most blurbs just sound so bad (especially the ones on the back of DVD;s). But yours sounds funny, smart and outrageous: a keeper.

  9. “funny, smart and outrageous” – love you Paula!

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