We’ve all heard the saying: “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and of course, I agree that you shouldn’t judge people by their appearances alone. But should this idiom apply to actual books?
As a book cover junkie, I usually pick up a book based on the cover, read the synopsis and go from there. Unless it’s been a book highly recommended, I don’t typically give many books the chance they deserve. I’m not proud, but in a sea full of fish, what’s a girl to do? I go with the ones demanding my attention from the start.
I strongly believe your cover IS the first page of your story.
It’s an introduction that tells the reader what your genre and setting might be. It should grab their interest, and show them whether or not it’s of good quality.
I’m fairly certain I’m not alone. But here’s an important factor to consider: I could ask 50 people their thoughts on the same book, and receive 50 different opinions on whether or not it was good, or if it has a good cover. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. But if there’s something that stays true no matter what the cover looks like is that having the right one is essential.
It’s practically a ‘live or die’ situation for your book, and here’s why:
1- THE RIGHT COVER CAN TRANSLATE TO MORE BOOK SALES
Or, umm, fewer sales . . . considering good-looking covers act as magnets for readers, well . . . you get it. Once they pick it up, you’re golden, because that first step is the hardest to achieve. And believe me, that’s the best you can hope for. The number of books that slide through the cracks going unnoticed is in the millions.
2- THE QUALITY OF YOUR BOOK COVER CAN RUIN YOU AS AN AUTHOR
Okay, maybe that’s too dramatic, but . . . A well-designed cover does declare to the reader that you’re proud enough of your book to offer high-quality cover AND content. Having sloppy font, poor pixelated images, or a badly formatted cover will scare away readers. How? By suggesting that the interior of the book is equally messy. This can sadly give you a bad reputation, and then who will buy your work?
3- THE WRONG COVER WIL ATTRACT THE WRONG AUDIENCE
A professional cover will “fit” the genre of your book. Getting it wrong will most likely end in negative reviews. If a reader loves romance and nothing but romance, picking up your horror book because the cover conveys the wrong message will probably make them feel jibbed. And in turn, guess who gets a 1-star review . . .
4- A PROFESSIONAL COVER DESIGNER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
Not to say you must hire one. You can always browse their portfolios and covers to see what works. And if money is the issue, you can get book cover designers for any budget out there. Fiverr is a good place to start. Personally, I rather put my story in their hands than me screwing it up. Because I would. I really would.
Professional cover designers know what’s eye-catching for your genre, and most importantly what works. They understand color coordination, fonts, resolutions, dimensions, alignments, and are accountable for their work. Their reputation is on the line, after all. So yeah, I’m leaving the pressure to them . . .
5- IT COULD POTENTIALLY MAKE YOU A BEST SELLER
Well, it’s simple (ha!). If you have a professionally designed cover, which portrays the quality outside and within, you’ll attract the right audience, and in turn, increase your sales. Cross your fingers tightly, pray hard, and maybe . . . perhaps you’ll make the bestseller list. Then again, chances are low, but at least you’re giving it your best shot!
And to put my foot where my mouth is, or rather where my fingers type, here are my currently published Urban Fantasy covers . . . so far, they’ve only made Amazon Best Seller lists, and probably won’t do better, but hey! I’ll take it! 🙂
S. Katherine Anthony