Those sharp eyed followers of my blog have already contacted me to say they noticed my change of title heading. Ruth Snell Creative Writing is now re-labelled as Ruth Snell Creative Arts. The simple reason being that painting has formed a large part of my life lately and I've found it easier to reach people through my painting than my writing. Not that my book has fallen into the mire. A lovely message came in only today to say how much someone enjoyed the story, so it is warming to know people out there are reading it.
When you create a painting and show it to a viewer, what you see is what you get. When you write a book, people are aware the creative process is more of a two way street. They have to acquire a copy of the book and then engage some of their spare time to read it. It may not be what they expect or it can give them a few surprises. Paintings aren't like that. A split second of viewing will either draw someone in or they will walk on by. Their appreciation is more instantaneous.
Perhaps then it is time to consider the importance of a book cover. What sort of judgements do you make on browsing in a book shop? Do you have expectations of how a book cover should look or does it not worry you? The official line from those who conduct studies into such observations say that the cover of a book will firstly make a browser pick it up. This can occupy some four to six seconds and if the 'blurb' on the back cover is attractively written, you have another hook in on a possible purchaser.
Is it all about hard sales? Well, the general idea in writing a book is that you want your 'message' to get out there. You have spent tremendous amounts of time writing the thing. Imagine if someone was paying you by the hour ...
For me the creative process must make me feel better about myself. That is why for me, designing - and painting - the cover of my books is important to me. The reader will hopefully have 'more of me' in what they take from the bookshelf. The package must be more rounded. I read several years ago that the singer/songwriter, Kate Bush, was very serious about record covers. Before she made it as a hit in the music world, as a young teenager, she would take a train into London on Saturday's to browse the shops. If she bought a record (LP to us oldies) she would sit on the train back to Kent pouring over the record sleeve, absorbing the design. At this point she didn't know what all the songs on the record sounded like, aside from the one perhaps she'd heard on the radio, but for her it was important to take in the cover design as it led her to understand more of what the music was portraying. Occasionally there were surprises but more often than not, the design emphasised the audio effect.
So if you are a writer and plan to publish, think carefully about your book cover. You may not be artistic but that doesn't matter. The point is that you know what you want your cover to be like. And, painting is a very therapeutic occupation. Writing can be extremely stressful. Even if you have the most perfect plot in the world and stunning characters, time for editing could be tight, your laptop may be playing up or even worse, crash losing your work. Painting (or drawing) may even help you understand what you are trying to say. Art, in all its forms is highly enjoyable but it can help the mind to cross over to another discipline. Think carefully about your book cover and make it intrinsic to the text. Make it ... you ...