According to Wikipedia, the first mention of the quote, “You can’t tell a book by its cover” is from George Elliot's The Mill on the Floss (1860). Mr. Tulliver uses the phrase in discussing Daniel Defoe's The History of the Devil, saying how it was beautifully bound.
A lot of self published titles have flooded the market. One giveaway to me that a book might be self-published and a risky quality read for me is when I am scrolling down Amazon’s list and spot poor quality cover art. Even small royalty presses are guilty of saving money in this area.
Too bad. A beautiful cover and a fitting title make a BIG difference in helping me choose what books I will purchase and even represent.
One submission title that crossed my desk and I loved right away was: Messiah to the Messed Up by Sue Ciullo (pronounced chew-low). I can so relate. Can’t you?
A cover needs to declare what the book is about. It can not be so esoteric that it leaves the agent, editor, or reader guessing.
Cake, Love, Chickens, and a Taste of the Peculiar by Joyce Magnin
This is a middle reader book that tops the list of my favorite all time reads. I think any lover of story would enjoy this one. It fulfills the promise of it's title.
Most recently this Zondervan title grabbed my eye: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. It is as wonderful as I had hoped; filled with stories of communion; family and friends gathered around a table. Such a holy thing.
A few others on my shelf:
When The Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Wild at Heart by John Eldridge (I know it is supposed to be for guys!)
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Firefly Summer by Maeve Binchy
Land Sakes by Margaret Graham (A favorite expression of my Grandmothers).
What titles or book covers grabbed you and didn’t let go?