Today I’m talking about how to choose your book cover and to nail it. Nothing sells a book like a cover and yes, everyone judges books by their covers. I’ve never picked up a book whose cover I didn’t like.
There are many ways to choose a book cover but there are only a few rights ways. It’s like what former Ohio State Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes once said. “Three things can happen when you pass in football, and two of them are bad.”
There are hundreds of ways to choose a book cover and hundreds of them are bad.
But, there are a few rights, so let’s get down to business.
The Cover Must Match the Genre
First thing’s first. You need to research your genre and see what the bestselling books have in their covers.
If you write science fiction, you’re likely to go with something that’s either dark blue or black.
If it’s fantasy, there’s probably a magical element involved. Look at my covers for Northern Knights and Swords of Destiny: You see Cain wearing a cloak in each, giving the reader an idea that fantasy is involved.
However, since it’s urban fantasy, something I noticed is that there can be buildings involved in the background, which is why the City of Ironton is in the background of Northern Knights.
If the book is romance, ninety-nine times out of one-hundred a couple is on the front cover.
Young adult usually means a kid or kids graces the cover.
Action and adventure usually have characters staring off into the distance, often overseeing something important to the plot.
Thrillers are unique since the main character is often looking away from the camera, sometimes containing destruction in the background.
Whatever your genre, make sure the cover matches the best selling books.
Don’t Create a Cover
There are several places online where you can create a cover and millions of royalty-free photos you can use at your own will. You can even create a cover using a Word doc.
While creating a cover is free, it rarely if ever will sell many books.
Unless you have experience in graphic design, don’t do this.
There is ONE exception, however, one that I’ve even used myself. If your book is perma free, you can get away with creating your own cover. While it should still look professional, you shouldn’t put much thought into investing money into one. You could do a $5 Fiverr cover, but I’ve seen those and trust me, people can tell if you outsourced to Fiverr.
My Neo Skyehawk Series covers are homemade, but not something I would create if I were asking $4 or $5 for an e-book. I paid $85 for my Northern Knights cover and $95 for Swords of Destiny, so the reader will know the value of such covers.
Also, if you ARE on a budget, remember that you can buy premade covers for as cheap as $35-$40, many of which are excellent, so always strive to find the best deal even if you have to hustle.
Use Contrasting Colors
Notice my covers have orange text, and they’re either reinforced with shadow or glow. This creates solid contrast with its background.
I also place heavy emphasis on the colors orange and brown, as not only are they my own, personal brand colors, but one of the main reasons I chose the color scheme was due to the fact orange and brown vary.
One is a dark color, the other is light.
If your cover is dark blue, I wouldn’t recommend using black lettering for your text. Instead, use something like white or light silver which makes the cover easier to read. Don’t be so vivid that you end up hurting your readers’ eyes (especially if you’re targeting an older demographic).
Also, make sure your title and author name are easy to read. The title defines your book, and your author name defines your brand. If you look at my covers, my name is in the same spot and the title is the first element of text the reader sees. It’s also the largest.
The same goes for my Skyehawk Series.
Brand Your Books
You want readers to know who’s writing the books here, so make sure you brand the series, or any book that you write.
You don’t want to write a book series only to have all the covers going in every which direction. Instead, brand your series so again, the reader knows you wrote it.
Once again, my book titles are written in orange lettering.
Each subtitle states ‘A New Adult Urban Fantasy.’
The fonts are identical.
The theme fonts are identical.
The author name and episode number are placed in a similar spot.
Cain is also on both covers, wearing similar attire.
The same can be said for the Neo Skyehawk Series. There’s the title in either a cream, white, or silver color, the background is black, the theme fonts and font size are the same, and there’s a royalty-free picture on each. Episode 0 features a castle, Episodes I and II feature Seneca (the real main character in the Series), and the third features a forested scene.
In time, as both series gain marketability, readers will come to associate me with such branding.
You can see this in many successful series.
Joanna Penn’s Arkane Series follows this pattern.
Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind Series does the same.
Harper Collins’ latest version of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia does this, too.
Take Your Time
Don’t rush to select a cover, especially the fact that you’re buying one. Research first, and notice which elements make the best selling covers stand out.
Don’t be one to create your own cover from scratch unless your book is free, as created covers never hold water like paid ones do. Of course, you can be an exception if graphic design is your thing, but ONLY if you have experience in the field.
Make sure your colors on your cover contrasts and are easy on the eyes. Make sure your name and title are visible and easy to read.
Finally, it’s a great idea to brand the series or books that you write. You want to take your brand as far as it’ll go, so creating one can be used to your greatest advantage.
Are you ready to select your book cover?
If so, get a head start and start looking immediately!