A book cover is a key resource in the promotion of your book whether that book is non-fiction or fiction.  If you don’t grab readers attention, they won’t even see your book, let alone buy it!

Here’s what you want your book cover to do

  • Make a promise to the reader about what’s in the book (and the book should live up to it)
  • Create an appropriate emotional appeal (what emotion depends on the genre)
  • Reflect content and style of the book (give visual clues for what readers can expect)
  • Convince the reader to BUY

That’s a pretty tall order for something some folks might just consider “art work”!

So what does a cover need to do to fill that order? There’s a bit of ‘science’ and a lot of  ‘art’ to coming up with a good (great) book cover. It’s more than putting together good images in Photoshop and adding the book title.  Reflect on these considerations:

  • Certainly the book cover layout needs to be professional looking – this is no place for an MS Word doc paste up
  • It needs to have really great, relevant art work – if you take away the book title and cover text, the art should be able to convey the mood and style of the book and something about the content to the reader
  • Any text on the cover/spine needs to be in an easy to read font – both in font style and in font size
  • As we already noted, the cover needs to makes a clear (true) promise about the contents of the book and even hint at the storyline for a fiction book
  • The style and layout of the cover generally should be representative of the book genre (unless you are  bravely seeking ‘contrarian’ attention)
  • Consider your reading audience and think what kind of book covers already have appealed to them (i.e., covers on current best sellers in your genre)
  • The cover should not be off-putting to any segment of your true market – for example, the cover should appeal to both men and women if both might be likely to read your book
  • The cover should look good and be appealing in thumbnail size – think Amazon pages – so should not be overly complex or busy
  • Let the cover use the psychology of color to attract readers – research your market to see the colors best selling authors in your genre have used

Of course, it does not hurt to be forward thinking because if you wrote one book, well, you might write related ones! If this seems remotely possible, for fiction or non-fiction, think a few books ahead while you are making book cover decisions for this current book. Think about brand-ability and brand continuity through color, style, fonts and layouts.

And mentioning layouts, brings to mind the back cover. Don’t neglect that valuable real estate! How many times have you been attract by the front cover and title of a book and then flipped to the back cover? Aha! So use your back cover space wisely. Depending on your audience, book genre, author familiarity in the market, your back cover could be home to

  • Reader or media testimonials
  • Author Bio and photo
  • Plot synopsis or book highlights