Smorgasbord Guest Writer -The importance of a book cover by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Delighted to welcome back regular contributor Roberta Eaton Cheadle with some important elements to consider when designing your book cover. It is also a chance to find out more about her forthcoming book A Ghost and his Gold.

The importance of a book cover by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

The cover of a book needs to convey certain information, namely, the title of the book, name of the author, name and logo of the publisher and the blurb. It also needs to let a potential reader know precisely what the book is about. That aspect of designing a book cover is very important as you don’t want to mislead a potential reader by using an inappropriate cover.
Certain colours and designs traditionally indicate a certain genre, for example, romances often use pink and purple in the cover designs and self-help books use blue which is intended to convey a feeling of calmness.

My forthcoming novel, A Ghost and His Gold, is a supernatural historical novel. A couple, Tom and Michelle Cleveland, move into a recently built townhouse on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, near Pretoria, in Gauteng (previously the Transvaal). A one-hundred-year-old jacaranda tree grows in their garden and Michelle discovers that it was planted by the first owner of the farm, a Burgher who died in action during the Second Anglo Boer War. It quickly becomes apparent that their new townhouse is haunted by three phantoms, one of which is a poltergeist intent on murdering Tom.

Michelle must unwind the history of the three ghosts, Piet van Zyl, a Burgher, Robert, a British soldier, and Estelle, Piet’s daughter, all of whose lives were deeply impacted by the war and all of whom need to resolve their personal conflicts and resentments in order to find redemption and move on to the next phase of their existence.

When I spoke to the cover designer, Tim Barbar from Dissect Designs, I had a couple to definite ideas about the concepts I wanted the cover to convey. Firstly, I like to use silhouette designs for my covers. I also used silhouettes for the covers of my previous books, While the Bombs Fell and Through the Nethergate. I think silhouettes convey a strong message without needing to be overly detailed. They are also clean and neat.


I wanted to feature a Burgher on his horse riding away from a scene of destruction in the form of a burning wagon. The design of the figure on the horse, and particularly the shape of his hat, was important in order to differentiate a South African Burgher from an American cowboy.

The wagon is symbolic of the frontiers and pioneering spirit of the Afrikaner people and the burning and flames are representative of the devastation of war generally and, in respect of this war, the burned earth policy implemented by the British soldiers in the Transvaal and the concentration camps where the Burgher’s wives and families were incarcerated. The purpose of the silhouette pictures is, therefore, to clearly indicate that this is a book about war and/or destruction in a frontier situation.

A Ghost and His Gold is a book about war and contains some violent and disturbing scenes of death and destruction. There is also a violent rape scene, which while not graphic, could distress sensitive readers. Unfortunately, rape plays a significant role during times of war. It is a tool used by men to intimidate and break the spirits of the civilian population.

The veld grass, trees and birds introduce the idea of Africa and the yellowy gold background is intended to give the reader a sense of dryness, wildness and destruction. The tones of the cover also resonate with the word gold in the title and let the potential reader know that gold plays a role in this novel.

Finally, the golden sunset is also symbolic as it indicates an ending. The Second Anglo Boer War was the end of the independence of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State in South Africa. Both republics were annexed by the English during 1900.
What do you think about book covers? Do they influence your decision to purchase a book?

Let me know in the comments.

©Roberta Eaton Cheadle 2020

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

I am an author who has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my young adult and adult writing, these will be published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first young adult supernatural novel, Through the Nethergate, has recently been published.

I also have two short paranormal stories in Whispers of the Past, a paranormal anthology edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

Discover all of Roberta’s books, read the reviews: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Contact Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Website: Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Blog: Roberta Writes
Twitter: @RobertaEaton17
Goodreads: Roberta Eaton Cheadle
TSL Publications: Books Roberta Eaton Cheadle

My thanks to Roberta for sharing the process that led to this wonderful cover for her upcoming book.


101 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Guest Writer -The importance of a book cover by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

  1. Robbie, a superb post about book covers! Yours is fantastic and I enjoyed learning your thought process in what should be included … the various elements capture the essence of the book perfectly I feel. Oh, I’m sure we are all guilty of choosing a book because of it’s cover … or even rejecting one whose cover does not appeal to us. Hence, their importance!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I love that cover for A Ghost and His Gold. The dramatic black against gold draws you in and then you begin to notice the intriguing detail. Never judge a book by its cover? People do. This one passes muster!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Covers, as well as titles, work for me… That being said, I am thoroughly impressed with the explanation of the cover details of your latest book. Such a terrific amount of thought went into it, and THAT is also something that would make me want to crack the book open. Knowing that someone with that much energy wrote what was inside, is a huge selling point. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I love the thought and detail which has gone into your cover, Robbie although covers are not the main draw for me…I look at reviews and the author and of course the genre…which is what draws me to yours 🙂 But saying that I do like the cover 🙂 x

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Nice share! A good cover does half the work and should be chosen carefully. Most of the covers I choose are symbolic. Robbie, the covers of your book are captivating and I like fire in the Gold cover, a ghost can be seen in it… superbly done.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Hi Sally, thank you so much for sharing this post. It is like a lovely present after a long, hard work day. I hope you will pass on my comment about learning to appreciate the power of colour to David. I learned a lot from him during our short time of working together.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like the idea of silhouettes, Robbie. It allows the reader to picture the hero/heroine they feel suits the storyline. A great cover is the first thing I pick up on when browsing for a new read. I think it’s critical to a potential buy.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Good post, Robbie. Implied here is the need for the author to have a firm idea of what the cover should portray. Your instructions to the artist must have been thorough enough to get the result you were hoping. Good looking cover.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Fabulous article Robbie! I enjoyed learning about why you choose the covers you do and how they represent your stories. I think the new cover is smashing- all you described suits it perfectly for the story. Congrats on your newest upcoming release! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I don’t shop that much, but I liken covers to shopping. Something has to get the buyer’s attention to make him/her take a second look. It’s arguable whether it should matter, but there’ no denying it does.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Pingback: Smorgasbord Guest Writer -The importance of a book cover by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

  12. Book covers are very important and this was a great post, Robbie. Your covers are perfect. I have been very happy with the covers my publisher has designed for my books. I base most of my reading decisions on recommendations from other readers, but if a writer is unknown to me, the cover can sway me.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I like silhouettes too. Your cover is very effective.
    A cover or a title can definitely make me pick up a book and look at the first few pages. I do like good design. I have also read books where I thought the cover was not up to the contents of the book, or didn’t reflect it at all, and may have cost the author some readers because of it. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  14. It’s very good timing for me to read your post, as I am working on an ebook of poetry and starting to think about the cover. From the first moment I saw the cover of A Ghost and His Gold, I thought it was striking and extremely well-done. Just out of curiosity, I went to the Dissect Designs website and checked out the covers. Most of them did not appeal to me, and some were designed in such a way that the title of the book was very hard to decipher. Your covers are a cut above them, which has to be your influence, I would say.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Liz, I must confess that I have never really looked at Tim’s other work. I always know exactly what I want by way of the cover. I invest time and effort finding ideas for the design and colours, ect. I am a firm believer in what you put in is what you get out. Tim has a wonderful ability to take what I give him and turn it into the perfect cover. My instructions are quite specific, for example about the hat and sunset, ect. My advice is to decide what you want your cover to convey, find examples of how you visualize it looking and pass this on. A designer must go with what the author tells him/her. Poor Tim didn’t even have a blurb when he designed this as I hadn’t written it yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – June 28th – July 4th 2020 – Music Festival, Book Covers, Fairy Stories, Poetry, Book Reviews and Author Promotions | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  16. I like the idea of the silhouettes, Robbie, and your covers work well. I agree that it’s important not to confuse readers with the covers, although I’ve read a lot of advice reminding authors not to get too focused on trying to make the cover bring to life a specific moment of the book, because the readers won’t know its importance or understand how it relates to the book yet, so some general ideas work better. I’ll have to check on the hats now, Robbie, because you’ve intrigued me with your comment.

    Liked by 2 people

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