It’s a sad fact of life, but it’s true… people DO judge a book by its cover. Whether you’re speaking literally or metaphorically, appearance matters! This is especially true when your book has to stand out in a sea of competition, and the field has never been more competitive than it is right now. As more and more people jump onto the indie author bandwagon, it’s going to continue to become more and more competitive, and it’s going to get harder and harder to sell books.
Should you be discouraged? Absolutely not! A really great book ALWAYS has a place in the market!
The biggest way you can stand out is by having a great book cover that stands out, and yet also blends in. What do I mean by that?
Well, first off, you obviously have to stand out. Even within your own genre, you’re going to have a lot of competition. This means your cover needs to stand out amongst your competition in order to be looked at by readers. Your cover is typically the very first thing people notice about your book, so it’s got to be good! It’s also got to jump out at the reader from within a page of books that are all competing for eyeballs.
That said, your book also needs to blend in. That doesn’t necessarily mean being visually similar to other books in your genre, but it does mean you need to make sure you include key elements that indicate the genre of your book.
Let’s say you’re writing a romance book. Even if that book contains a post-apocalyptic theme, you want to be certain you include something to indicate the romance element. You could include a background that nods to the post-apocalyptic theme, but the main focus should be on the romance element. You’d want to include a couple somewhere on the image to indicate that the book is a romance.
Now, let’s say you’re writing a post-apocalyptic book that has a secondary theme of romance. In this instance, you might still want to include a couple on the cover. But you’d make them smaller, and perhaps blend them into the background somehow. For example, you could make the cover a post-apocalyptic world and then add a silhouette of a couple standing in the debris.
All book covers should have a few basic elements for effectiveness:
- The author’s name should be prominent and easy to read, even at a thumbnail size.
- The title should be prominent and easy to read, even at a thumbnail size.
- Never use more than 3 fonts on a single cover, and make sure they are easy to read and fit your book’s genre.
- The book’s genre should be immediately recognizable at first glance.
- Images should fit the story, and also fit the genre.
- Colors should fit with the theme of the book and the genre, but still appear visually striking.
Just like each book is unique, each cover should be unique. By following the list above, you can be sure to get a book cover that will sell books, yet you still have some room for creativity.
It’s a good idea to take a look at some of the covers that adorn the current bestsellers in your genre to figure out what type of cover you want before you contact a designer or start making a cover yourself. This way, you (and your designer) will have a good idea of where to start.