Wednesday Cover Story: Yes, it’s A NOVEL

Whilst recently browsing the reviews on I Love A Mystery I was struck by the eye-catching cover to At the End of the Road, by Grant Jerkins – love the colours, the layout, the bird overlapping the text, and the general atmospheric image. And, I like how they’ve played with presentation of the book as A NOVEL.

I’m not sure if I ever paid proper attention to this before, but I realise that, unlike their UK counterparts, most, if not all, American adult fiction novels (YA novels seem to be exempt) always stipulate that the book is A NOVEL on their front covers. We publish many books by American authors and after a quick check I’ve noted that, indeed, the US editions of these books all spell out the fact that the book is a fictional work.  The norm is adding the two simple words ‘A novel’ underneath or next to the book title, or in the case of Little Children, by Tom Perrotta, as part of a strapline ‘A Novel by the author of Joe College and Election’. (In the UK we would most likely have ommitted the obvious and just written ‘by the author of Joe College and Election’.)

(Click on the covers to see their UK equivalents with no mention of the word ‘novel’ in sight…)

I’m curious as to why the Americans follow this rule and we don’t. Perhaps it is a legal thing? In a lawsuit-happy nation (and I say this being half-American myself) are American authors and publishers covering their backs against the reader who might sue for false-advertising, arguing that it was not clear the book was not a factual read?  (Stranger things have happened.) But it is probably just a publishing trend that stuckin the US and now few wish to break away from – whereas here in the UK, it never caught on.

As a reader, I don’t mind the presence of the words on the cover myself. From a sales perspective, it does however take up valuable text-space on the cover which could arguabaly be better used to showcase a nice quote for the book. From a design perspective, it is something additional the designer has to work with and so I like it when, as in the case of At the End of the Road, they’ve actually done something a bit more inventive with this requisite text.

Chiara Priorelli, Publicity & Online Marketing Manager

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