We all judge a book by its cover. Don’t deny it, Judgy McJudgerson. I’ve seen you browsing the shelves at your local bookstore, wandering past the endless rows of covers and spines, just waiting for something to jump out at you.
So what is it that grabs your attention? What makes a good book cover? Here are some questions to ask:
1. What is the target audience?
A popular trend for young adult covers is pretty young girls. Like really, really popular. There’s a reason for it (Sorry, I took nursing in university, not psychology. I can’t tell you why. I just know it works). Romance will often depict beautiful busty ladies with their steamy man and his rock solid eight-pack (Yes, apparently they come in eight now. Or so I’ve been told). Do I really need to tell you why this works for that audience?
For non-fiction, it’s common to have the author’s photo on the cover. Is this the way to go for every book? Absolutely not. It depends on how well you’ve branded yourself. If you’ve done a great job of creating a platform where people associate you with your subject matter, then this might be the way to go. But not always.
Appeal to the desires of those who will enjoy your book. Think about why you wanted to write your story. What is it ultimately about? Now convey that message to your audience through your cover.
2. What is the genre?
If you’re looking for a funny, lighthearted read, you’d expect the same feel from the cover. Fun colors, playful designs, happy people. But if the tone is serious or dark, you’d expect shadowy characters, moody scenes, dark colors. A good cover will give any potential readers an idea of what’s inside before they even read the blurb on the back.
3. What’s the title again?
Typesetting is critical. There needs to be a balance between the choice of font, how the letters are arranged on the page, and the busyness of your background. Don’t let your title and author name to get lost in a stylistic battle.
4. What about the shock factor?
There are always exceptions to the rule. Sometimes there’s no telling what will ultimately grab a potential reader’s attention. Publishers have tried many things in the past, sometimes bordering on shocking and controversial.
In the end, the most important job for a book cover is to entice people to pick up the book. If they do, then it’s a job well done. But the more you cater it to the audience looking for your kind of book, the more likely they’ll be taking it to the cash register once they read the blurb.
5. How to tell if it works?
Everyone has different tastes and expectations when it comes to book covers. It’s an art, not a science. If your publisher lets you have a say in your book cover or if you’re self-publishing and choosing your own, seek the advice of your intended audience.
Ask family and friends, hold polls on your website or twitter, print out copies and show them to co-workers, and best of all, ask those people who have already read your book. The answers you get might surprise you! However, at the end of the day, it’s your book. Make sure you love the end result.
And what does an end result look like?…
Come back tomorrow to check out the cover reveal of A HOLD ON ME (Dark Heart Book #1) by Pat Esden – Kensington Books (March 2016). Plus she’s holding a GIVEAWAY!!!!! So don’t miss out!