(Last in a three-part series.)
Of the three ways to stumble when selling your book, the cover is the one I see the least — by far. A lot of you have really GREAT covers.
The reason for that is pretty simple — most of you know that you shouldn't be designing your own book covers. Great writers are rarely good designers and vice versa.
Have I run some books where the cover was substandard? Yes. Not a lot, but a few.
I'll likely get stricter in the future as (1) I start charging a fee and (2) the demand grows for slots in the newsletter.
The good news is you can get yourself a respectable looking pre-made cover for as little as $25 or $50 these days.
I've asked three designers "What makes a great book cover?" Here's what they had to say:
“Two things. First, the mood has to be right. One of your cover's main functions is to convey the mood of your story. This basically sets the emotional setting for people who want to buy your book. You're preparing them for the experience they will get from the inside of the book. Which leads me to my second point, your cover needs to match your story, both in mood and genre. People want to read your book. You just have to make sure your audience can find you. This means your cover has to clearly signal what type of story a reader is getting. Make sure the cover you're putting in front of them is leading them to it, not away. If you're selling a sexy, romantic suspense, put in genre cues that say this is a romantic suspense so those readers see you, buy you, then love you.”
"For me a great cover is one that sells the book. For fiction it needs to make an immediate emotional impact; a lot of authors focus on small details that don't matter instead of the whole design. A lot of author choose based on their gut or feelings, rather than pick the design that will sell the best (to find out, you need to ask a large group of people for feedback). For non-fiction it has to hook the brain with something interesting, but should be very clean and beautifully arranged."
Derek Murphy, CreativIndieCovers.
“I think a great book cover has to quickly convey a theme and genre, to instantly make a buyer confident that your book is one they might like to read. However a cover's job is not to tell the story (that's your book's job), or to sell the book (which should be the goal of your blurb.) It's simply a window display that brings the reader in to your storefront. Many authors make the mistake of trying to make the cover tell the story, when all it really needs to do is open an opportunity. The greatest covers manage to convey a sense of familiarity, giving the reader confidence, while also standing out, begging a reader to select that title from the stack.”
Kelly Walker, Indie-Spired Design.