I respect Indie authors because I am one and care about authors who have good books with weak covers. A book cover can make or break a sale. Your book cover needs to look professional and be a “grabber.” What makes a good cover?
First, the cover should match the content. While this sounds like an amazing grasp of the obvious, it isn’t. Many books have covers that don’t fit the contents. I used to have a publications lawyer and she added a clause in my contract that said the cover couldn’t be changed without my consent. Covers are often changed for overseas markets, she explained, including “bosomy covers” on serious books.
Just as words speak for your book, the cover should speak for your book. This advice comes from marketing director/author, Jeff Goins. In his article “Three Things Most People Don’t Know About Book Cover Design, he says good books provoke readers. “They make you think. And so should their covers.”
What makes a good cover? When I researched book covers, I learned that readers tend to think of themselves as younger than the people on book covers. Though my latest book is for grandparents, notice that the couple on the cover are young grandparents. Also, they look happy—another important point. The publisher, graphic designer, and I chose the font together.
The first cover design had a red title, but the book distributor nixed it. The distributor suggested blue and we followed his advice. Look carefully and you’ll see the letters outlined in white to increase visibility. Graphic designers call this “drop shadow” and it can be very effective.
In the online age, the subtitle of a book is as important as the title. Your subtitle may refer to the genre, such as “Book two of the Detective Marley series.” Coming up with a subtitle took hours and I finally wrote one that worked: Tested Tips, Research & Real-Life Stories to Make Your Life Easier. This subtitle tells potential buyers what to expect from the book.
A good subtitle shortcuts the decision-making process, according to Kevin Tumlinson, author of the article, “The Psychology of a Good Book Cover.” Tumlinson thinks a good cover should make the eyes move. “If the reader is thrilled by the cover image as they ‘read’ it, there’s a better chance they’ll assume the book will be equally as thrilling,” he notes.
The second cover design has a medallion on it. When the book was released, neither the publisher nor I knew it would be named a finalist in the Book Excellence Awards. Several months later, the book received a second award and I notified my publisher. I asked she would add another medallion to the cover. Her reply: “We don’t want to clutter the cover with medallions.”
Because I have a graduate degree in art, I always have book cover ideas. For me, hiring a graphic designer is worth the money. Trends can make an existing cover outdated. That happened to me and I recently changed a book cover. It was worth the money and sales increased immediately.
Look at award-winning covers online before you approve your cover. Pay close attention to covers in your genre. Which ones do you like best? Why do you like them? Do any design ideas apply to your forthcoming book? As Kristen Eckstein notes in her article, “The Five Secrets to a Killer eBook Cover, “Your goal is to stand out from the crowd.”