What makes someone buy a particular book? That's a question I've been asking myself.
    Unless I'm looking for a particular author, or a book that's been recommended to me, the first thing I usually look for is the genre. If your book doesn't fit one genre exactly or crosses genres, that could be a problem unless you can persuade the bookseller to display it in both. My novel, Discord's Child, is epic fantasy and although it was written with adults in mind, it's also suitable for young adults. If it only appeared on Amazon in the Young Adult category, it would be less likely that adult readers would find it.
    The next thing that attracts me is the cover. With Discord's Child I was extremely lucky to find a premade cover by Katie Stewart of Magic Owl Design that I feel is perfect. When you consider what a cover has to do, the chances of that happening are remote. A good cover has to convey something of the story and (possibly) the characters, as well as capturing the novel's atmosphere or essence. Above all, it must be eye-catching. Only after the cover's grabbed my attention do I look at the title and the blurb, which need to tease my curiosity.
    So, for me, the most influential factor in choosing a book that I haven't heard of is the cover. Would I ever have picked up a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel before the author became famous without spotting the Josh Kirby cover? Alan Lee's covers for the Penguin paperbacks of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy immediately transported me into the strange world of Titus Groan. Good covers can become a trademark and help the reader to zero in on the kind of novels that are likely to appeal to them.
    I'm sure I can't be the only one to be so influenced by a book's cover, so let's hear it for the unsung heroes of the literary world–the cover artists.