Tuesday, July 14, 2009

FOR WRITERS (and readers): Why are heads cut off on book covers?

Now, this wasn't something I thought much about, until I received my new book cover (Isn't it beautiful?). I've always assumed that publishers cut off the model's heads so that readers could imagine the faces for themselves (our imaginations are often times much better than reality). But I found out that there is a subconscious marketing technique at work here. Publishers know that they only have seconds to capture the interest of a reader, whether he/she is looking through books in a bookstore or on the internet. So if you glance at an image that is incomplete your brain registers that within seconds...and you're more likely to take a second look. Then you might be tempted to read the cover, the back blurb, and hopefully, purchase the book itself. But those first few seconds are the most crucial, which is why publishers invest a great deal of research in producing an eye-catching cover.


Julie E said...

I've also noticed that not including heads also puts the focus on your name and the title of the book. I'm not sure if that's part of the marketing plan or just an interesting observation.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful cover Kathryne. Thanks for sharing with us the why. Always good to know.

Pam P said...

Interesting, it's the opposite for me. I like the full package, more likely to pick it up to take a look if the face appeals to me, along with other things. Not a fan of those headless covers, I'm less likely to take a look.

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Hi Julie, Great observation!
Hey Kim, Glad you found it interesting.
Hiya Pam, I absolutely respect that some readers may not find it appealing. It's interesting to note, however, how many bestselling authors have headless covers.
All food for thought. :}
My best to all of you,

Donna Hatch said...

Gorgeous cover! I'm not a fan of headless covers, either. I prefer the whole heads to be shown, but the faces shadowed, or otherwise a little vague...although some of the cover men are so drop-dead gorgeous, I've picked up the book just based on that. But that's interesting that there's a psychology behind it besides letting the reader fill in the blank.

Lisa Hendrix said...

I've heard it's because there are too few cover models, and although that's long been the case--do you remember Pino's favorite heroine in all her glorious hair colors?--with the shift toward photographic/Photoshopped covers, it became more and more obvious. So someone decided that lopping off heads disguises that every other hero is John DeSalvo...//g//

Fun article, Kathryne. Love your cover.

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Hi Donna! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
Fun stuff, Lisa!! Thanks so much for sharing.