Your book cover sends a message to potential readers. Your cover is the first introduction to your book and the fulcrum that swings readers to discover more about your book. Before they read the description, they see the cover. Your cover can tip the reader to delve deeper or pass.
The book cover is your primary book marketing tool.
Kevin Tumlinson, Director of Marketing at Draft2Digital, emphasizes the cover’s importance.
Your cover is its own story, and readers are looking at it as a way to help them make a purchasing and reading decision.
How Your Book Cover Works
A well-designed book cover is a visual message that conveys the essence of your book – genre, tone, message, and, of course, you, the author. Here’s what your cover needs to do.
Because the cover is a visual medium, the first requirement is that it grabs attention. Think of it as a billboard for what’s inside. Your book competes with thousands of other books for a reader’s attention, so you want your cover to convey an instant message.
As a package (book) wrapper, your cover also tells readers the genre so they know the book meets their reading preference. A reader should know right away that your book is fiction or nonfiction. In addition, they should be able to tell the sub-category, like self-help or romance. The more genre information your cover conveys, the easier it is for a reader to identify your book as something that may appeal to their taste.
Readers want to know you care. The details of your cover send a message about you as an author. Even if you are making the cover for your first book, you want to convey a message about you as an author. Do you tell a ripping good yarn? Does your advice help people improve their life? Making the book cover identifiably yours marks your book in the reader’s mind. When you write that next book and the cover is similar, you’re building your author brand and your core readership.
Reviews and Recommendations
A book cover that engages readers to read your book filled with a great story or wise tips ultimately leads to reviews and recommendations. Posted reviews about your book help spread the word and build your fan-base. Positive reviews provide validation for potential readers to buy your book.
The reviews feed vital information to algorithms on online distributors like Amazon. The algorithms count the positive reviews as a validation of the value of your book. The more positive reviews for your book, the more likely the algorithm will display your book to other readers.
How to Help Your Cover Sell More Books
Readers look at your cover to make a purchasing decision. Most successful authors hire a cover designer to make sure your book has the best shot at grabbing attention and getting readers to buy.
Whether you take on cover design yourself or engage the services of a designer, you need to know book cover basics to ensure your book cover markets your book well. The choices you make for these key elements will have a direct impact on your book’s success.
An eye-catching image is the primary way to draw attention to your cover. Make it striking. Choose an image that reflects your genre. That image helps a reader choose a book that reflects their current buying mood. Make it easy to see that your book fits their search.
Images that help readers understand your book:
- Theme: dark and moody, light-hearted and fun, exotic, steamy, etc.
- The protagonist: you’ve seen those romance covers. The protagonist works. Action hero, female detective, urban heroine, fantasy hero…
- Genre: study covers in your genre. See how bestsellers work the book covers. Capture the tone of your genre.
Type style is as important as the image. Choose a style that is easy to read. Avoid swirls and script font styles. They get lost on the cover. Avoid any choices that will make a reader work hard to read the text.
Here’s what to keep in mind. Your typography should:
- Be clear and easy to read
- Reflect and imply your genre
- Make the title stand out
- Brand you as an author
An integral part of cover design is text placement. You want text to lead the reader’s eye in a Z pattern from top to bottom. Title on top and largest font size. Subtitle underneath. Author name at the bottom. Once again, browse covers in your genre to see how text placement works in bestsellers. Unless you are a well-known author with thousands of readers, putting your name on top in the largest size will seem pretentious to readers who are not familiar with you or your work.
The final test for your book cover is how it displays in the world of online retailers. When your book displays alongside others in your genre, you want your cover to be visually striking. Although you want your cover to reflect the genre, you’ll also want it to stand out from the competition.
Does your cover stand out from the white background when displayed? Is it unique enough and easy to read so a book browser knows the title and genre at a glance?
Keep It Simple but Eye-Catching
The front of your book is a dynamic marketing tool. Make it stand out visually with a striking image that suits your genre. Use an easy-to-read typeface with text placed to lead the reader from top to bottom.
An investment in cover design will pay dividends in giving your book the attention it deserves. An experienced, professional designer has the tools, images, and typefaces at their fingertips to get your book marketing off to the best start possible with a dynamic cover.
To make what’s inside your book as professional as your cover, use ProWritingAid to polish your manuscript.