I’ve been researching book cover design to learn more about what sells and what doesn’t. In that all-important first moment when potential buyers see your book either online or on a brick-and-mortar store shelf, does the cover grab them and shout “Buy me!” or does it say “Meh” and let them get away?
I read that analyzing covers of recently published books is a great way to get ideas that will make your book an eye-catcher. Sometimes I found it difficult, though, to figure out why some covers worked better than others. For example, on The Book Designer Web site, Joel Friedlander critiques book covers submitted by writers/designers, awarding gold stars to the best ones and useful comments to others. I went through and studied the covers, then read his comments to see if we had similar thoughts. Sometimes we agreed and sometimes not. The crux of the matter is that it’s all subjective. One person’s beauty is another’s bleh.
The site did have some good basic design tips which I found helpful.
• Decide what your principal focus will be and work around that. Use only a few images and don’t clutter.
• Don’t use a white background. Use texture, color, or illustration instead.
• Make sure the text stands out and is easy to read.
• The title needs to be large enough to be read when shrunk to Amazon thumbnail size.
• Use images, colors, and fonts that convey the tone/mood of the book.
A few seconds’ glance is all you get when someone picks up your book. In those few moments, your cover should communicate the genre, the theme or basic subject of the book, and the tone. It should lead the person into your story and make them not want to leave. I know that sounds like common sense, but it’s a lot harder than it seems.
I had some general ideas of what I thought should be on the cover of my book, one of which was to focus on my main character, a swordswoman with silver-blonde hair. Both the book I’m currently reading and the one I’m going to read next have swordswomen prominently on the covers. But then I read where one person didn’t like putting characters on book covers because she preferred to leave the characters’ faces to the readers’ imaginations.
What do you think? Does it bother you to have an image of the main character on the book cover? I’d love to hear your opinions!