Trust me: Your book cover matters!
It’s actually the second most important thing that will make or break your book’s sales. (The FIRST thing is your title… Check back next week for details about crafting a killer title!)
And I think that authors understand that covers are important but they don’t understand just HOW critical they are. After all, a book has to have a cover.
Believing the old adage: ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ did you NO favors!
Judging a book by its cover is EXACTLY what your potential readers will do. Notice I said potential readers… That’s because a lousy cover will prevent those people from buying and reading your book!
This is way more important than just choosing a talented graphic artist!
Covers need to:
- Be readable
- Have an easy-to-identify image/message
- NOT feature your name in huge print unless you know people will buy just because it’s you (I’m thinking Steven King or JK Rowling here!)
- Look amazing as a thumbnail
- Have fantastic contrast in black & white!
Sometimes it’s easier to talk about the DON’T DO THIS of cover design…
Let’s look at your font and font color choice first.
BLOCK TEXT IS BORING
And it’s highly readable! I know that the old standby fonts aren’t exciting – I get that. But they’re readable. If your potential reader has to struggle AT ALL to figure out the text on your cover (the “image” of the text, not any inside jokes or puns) she will not buy.
The same goes for the font color! Pink, orange, and yellow can be hard to read. Without the right contrasts, red can be difficult too!
Remember that YOU know exactly what you’re trying to say so your eye automatically tells your brain what you’re seeing. Your potential reader doesn’t have that luxury!
DON’T use a “fancy” font
DON’T use a low-contrast color
You need to know exactly what you’re looking at when the cover is a thumbnail! Ooooh, I made this mistake on one of my cookbooks. The original cover was a composite image – and you couldn’t tell what you were looking at!
When it was switched out to a CLEAR plate of food, sales skyrocketed!
Here’s my #1 tip:
When you’re browsing stock photography websites, just look at thumbnail images. If you can’t instantly tell what you’re looking at – move on! Even if you don’t buy an image (and use one you took or hired to be taken) it has to look amazing as a thumbnail!
If you’re using a picture of you on your cover, that’s really okay as long as it’s still simple – let people see your smiling face and not have to fight to figure out what is foreground and what is background!
DON’T use overly complicated images; simple is better!Craft an attention grabbing #book cover! No design skills required! Click To Tweet
Your name shouldn’t be the biggest thing on the cover! I get it that you’re super proud of your book! And you should be; it’s a big deal. But chances are, your name just isn’t that well known! (Sorry for the reality check… It’s okay, you’re famous to me!)
Which means, leading with your NAME on the cover is a waste of important real estate! Sure your name should be on the cover, but does it really need to be in 100 point font?
Now there are a ton of people who will argue with me on this, but until your name is known outside your immediate niche as the go-to expert, it just doesn’t have the attraction power as a well-crafted title does.
BTW: This advice doesn’t hold true for fiction! A lot of fiction readers read AUTHORS not problem-solving content. In the non-fiction arena, who wrote the book isn’t as important as the pain it fixes.
DON’T let your name dominate the cover!
Now let’s talk about your cover in black & white! Don’t assume that people only buy books from their smart phones, tablets, or computers! If you’re publishing an ebook, there are a whole slew of Kindle eReaders that are only in grey scale. And guess what?!
People can buy your book directly from their Kindle. Which means YOUR cover needs to look amazing in black and white.
Plus, you never know when a version of your cover will be printed in black and white… especially in marketing and promotion materials!
DON’T make your contrast smudgy – make sure it’s crisp!
And here’s an extra tip for you…
You don’t HAVE to have an image on your cover!
That’s right… You can use just text. And it can be super effective. In fact, many of my favorite business books DON’T use an image – just text.
Think about it!
So tell me, as a person who buys books, what draws your eye in and makes you want to whip out the credit card?
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