Looks Count—Why Book Covers Are So Important and 5 Tips for Creating Your Own
by Paula Renaye
Author of Living the Life You Love: The No-Nonsense Guide to Total Transformation
There’s just no way around it, people do judge a book by its cover. Whether it is an eBook image online or a hardback jacket on the shelf in your neighborhood store, looks matter.
Most writers don’t know what elements are required for a great book cover—nor would they know what to do with them if they did. I certainly didn’t, which is why I hired a pro to do the cover of Living the Life You Love. I was solid on my content, but I had no clue what would appeal to buyers on the outside, including the title. So, I hired a pro to guide me. Here’s what he has to say:
“Well-designed book covers are crucial. I have found in many years of calling on senior buyers at chain stores, wholesalers, and independent bookstores, not to mention international publishers that we deal with for foreign rights sales, that if the cover isn’t professionally designed, there’s little chance of selling the book. People who say, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover,’ have never met with top buyers in the industry. It often ends the conversation when the cover isn’t excellent. On more than one occasion, I was able to salvage a book getting picked up by Barnes & Noble by having the original cover redesigned. The Barnes & Noble corporate buyer liked the content of the book, but the original cover (which, in their words, looked ‘self-published’) would have been a deal breaker. ” –Nigel J. Yorwerth, President of Yorwerth Associates (www.PublishingCoaches.com)
An amateurish cover tells the world that you’re not a pro and that what’s inside probably isn’t ready for prime time either. And remember, once you push that “publish” button, you can’t take it back. Yes, you can unpublish it, but it will always be “out there” to be found—and judged.
Also, remember that “graphic designer” does not automatically mean book cover designer. The best option is to hire someone specifically skilled and experienced in designing books. However, if you absolutely can’t afford to do that and must take charge of your cover creation, here are some tips:
- Stalk the Competition. Study successful books in your genre and use them as a guide for creating your own cover.
- Shoot Straight. A book cover must accurately reflect the tone and emotion of the book (e.g. don’t put a dark foreboding image on a light funny book). If your book is scary, the cover should reflect that.
- Can the Cheese. Forget the cutesy fonts—don’t even think about using Comic Sans, Chiller or the like. Ditto the standard issue Times, Arial, etc. Try matching the font used on a successful book.
- KISS it. Keeping it simple is key. A clean cover with an intriguing image and properly placed title can be more effective than trying to do a Da Vinci hidden meaning thing.
- Ask the Pros. It doesn’t matter if your mom and best friend like it. Ask as many industry pros—local bookstores and online sources—as you can for feedback. And remember, this isn’t about convincing people your baby isn’t ugly. It’s about creating an effective product, so listen objectively.
Of course, if you are a household name or have 100,000 people on your mailing list, you can ignore everything and do whatever you want. If you don’t, you have to play you’re A game. That won’t automatically guarantee success, but it certainly won’t hinder it, and at the very least you will have a product that you will be proud of for years to come.
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Paula Renaye is a life and relationship coach, speaker and eight-time award-winning author. Her award-winning self-help book, Living the Life You Love: The No-Nonsense Guide to Total Transformation was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012 and won the Independent Publisher IPPY Gold Medal for Self Help. The book is available worldwide in English, Spanish and Chinese. Writing as Paula Boyd, she is also the award-winning author of the Jolene Jackson Mystery Series. www.paulaboyd.com For more information, visit www.paularenaye.com
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Genre – Personal Development / Self-Help / Motivational