The other night my wife and I went out to dinner and because the weather was so nice, decided to take a walk. The restaurant where we ate was in a mall, kind of like an outlet, with a big open area leading to all the stores. Of course we stopped in the Borders. Even though we have e-readers, sometimes we’re in the mood for for some paper and ink.
We walked around our usual sections grabbing whatever looked interesting. And let me stress the “look” part of my last statement. EVERY single book we checked out was visually interesting first. It really drove the point home on how important an eye catching book cover is. Makes sense when you think about it. The book cover is like having a job interview every time a potential buyer picks it up. And how do we look for a job interview?
So I wanted to share a few covers that passed the interview. Out of all of them, only one was by an author I recognized.
I love how the purple in the heroes cape blends with the spirits and rain. And the green adds to the overall earthynesss of the picture, which made sense when I read the blurb. The people in this series have a unique bond with the elements.
The final little touch was the chain-like borders across the top and bottom of the book. It adds to the epic fantasy theme of the cover and because it’s part of series, is a way to group future books. There’s six books so far and they all have this.
As important the title of a book is, the font is just as important. This series is about a girl who gets sucked into other people’s dreams and the title really sells that idea before you ever get to the blurb. The glowy effect, the way it’s stretched across the cover, plus the lone pillow tell me everything I need to know about the book before I read the blurb. I should also note the tagline in this picture was not on the book I purchased.
Subsequent books in the series have a similar cover design.
Again title and cover art working to sell the book. The hero is dressed as a resistance warrior and standing before him is what looks like the aftermath of a battle. The reds and oranges feed that notion and the title completes the package.
This book also uses the grouping effect like the Jim Butcher series. Here the marker is right under the title along with a symbol. Not only does this look cool, especially with other books in the series, but anytime I go looking for the next installment, they’ll be easy to find.
In a job interview, if your clothes are wrinkled and stained, if your hair is a mess, that is a reflection on you and your work ethic. The same applies if you plan to self-publish. The above books and many more are your competition. If you can’t match what’s being done by the major houses, it won’t matter how well written your story is. With that in mind, here’s what I think makes for a good cover.
The cover should immediately convey the genre. If your book is on a display or mixed in a list with other top selling books, the cover needs to tell potential buyers what you’re all about.
Colors are very important. Whole aspects of marketing are based on color combinations. It pays to understand what they mean.
An overall theme works better than a specific scene. With a theme you can play with imagery and really let your imagination go to fun places. You’ve only got seconds to convince a buyer to give your book a chance. Unless you’ve got the most amazing scene in the history of scenes, go with a theme.
Not everyone is an artist. You’ve really got to be honest with yourself on this one. Conveying an idea without words is a SKILL. Grab some books from your favorite authors in your genre. Does your cover measure up to theirs? If not, can you tell the reason why? If the answer is no, then you need to hire a professional. Find out what artists were used for the covers you like and seek them out. Or ask the author who does their covers.
Money might be an issue and I can understand that, but you have to ask yourself: Is the money you’re saving on an okay cover worth the sales you might lose? Even if it takes time to save the money, it’s a wise investment.
Get unbiased opinions. This is a tough one because even if you go with friends who are artists, you have to wonder if you’re getting the whole truth. You’ll have to make that determination. I’m sure just like writers forums, artist ones exist and that might be the best place to get an honest opinion. Who knows? If it turns out you need a pro, you might find one there.
Don’t rush your cover. Don’t cut corners. Treat your cover with the same care as your prose. Pretend your job depends on it.
So, what do think? Agree? Disagree? When you’re looking for a new author, how important is the cover in that decision? Have you passed on potential buys because the cover was uninteresting?
Info stuff- Follow my ROW80 progress every Wednesday and Sunday and be here Tuesdays and Thursdays for new posts on me, writing, superheroes, monsters, comics and any other geeky stuff on my mind.