A room full of authors bobbed their heads when I asked if they’d ever thought about why we always say not to judge a book by its cover when that’s exactly what we do. One guy suggested it wasn’t supposed to be taken literally. I could see why, but I disagreed with him.
“That saying came from the days when most books were plain cloth or leather-covered. There was literally nothing on it to give a hint as to what was inside—sometimes not even a title on the front.”
A few more nods.
“Today, covers are more than just something that holds the pages of your books together. Now, they’re your book’s first and biggest advertising. They’re a billboard announcing what you’ll find inside. Get it right, and you can have a bestselling, mediocre book. Get it wrong, and an awesome book will get ignored.”
I went on to point out that in bookstores, many books don’t even get the front to sell it. Only the spine shows, so you have to pack a punch in about one inch. Thankfully, on websites like Amazon, you get that thumbnail.
At the end of my presentation, I showed a slide of a cover that had nothing going for it—bad typography, a picture of Central Park meant to represent something in the Midwest, and a plain white spine. “Before I knew anything about cover design, I created this. Let’s face it, there’s nothing about this that says, ‘Eligible bachelor meets plain Jane and discovers a hidden treasure in her.’”
It was my first book.
When I redesigned that cover a couple of years later, it wasn’t any better. I mean, it was more aesthetically pleasing to look at, but it still did nothing for the book. Frankly, that anyone ever chose to click the buy button borders on the publishing miraculous.
What does all this have to do with anything? Well, sometimes a gem is hidden beneath a cover that serves more as ore than a velvet ring box. I know it, and I still do that thing we’re always told not to do.
I judge books by their covers.
A good example is one with what I can only see as an ironic title. Undiscovered Treasures. When I had the chance to request a free review copy, I didn’t have much hope, but I try to make sure I look at synopses as much as covers. The synopsis grabbed me. So, I gave it a shot.
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The #1 Thing I Learned from Undiscovered Treasures
Written in a clean, clear engaging style, Undiscovered Treasures is three parts sweet romance and one part mystery. I’d expected it to be the other way around, but the way the author set it up, it worked.
It takes some good writing to create a character like Caro Gibson and make me keep reading. I didn’t like her—at all. She annoyed the snot out of me from the first page, and I didn’t like her until almost the last. How Andy saw anything in her at all is almost a miracle in itself.
But here’s where that great writing came in. Even as I kept growling, “What do you see in her?” every dozen or so pages, I believed that he did see something in her. In that respect, Caro is a beautiful representation of Andy’s paintings. She doesn’t get them—cannot understand why everyone thinks they’re so great.
See what Carole Brown did there? It’s brilliant.
The mystery itself was an easy call. I knew within the first quarter of the book or so who did it and partially why. She pulled a twist at the end that I didn’t expect in the why department, and actually, that’s one of the few things I didn’t like about the book. It felt a bit overly-dramatic and a smidge cliched.
Only one other thing bugged me. The socialite in Andy’s life really went over the top with her advances. There was one scene in particular that felt ripped from a sixties Harlequin. I can’t see a modern girl doing it at all.
Seriously, though. If those are my only quibbles, is it any wonder that I’m eager to read the rest of the books in this series?
Fun, lighthearted, but with a solid morsel of spiritual encouragement all wrapped up in a little, multi-layered mystery? Score!
I’m so glad I requested that free review copy, and I’m thrilled to say I really liked the book. Recommended for romance lovers and those who like a bit of mystery stirred in as well!
Oh, and that lesson I learned?
Yeah… once in a while, judging a book by its cover might just mean you miss out on a treasure.
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