Judging a book by the Cover

Judgie MacFudgie of book covers, is in the house.

This is one thing we can stand back and judge to our hearts content. Do you know why? Because everyone does it. We all judge a book by its cover (Damn right we do) and out of all the books on the shelf, only one or two will catch my eye. Something about the cover will tweak my curiosity enough, for me to pick it up and read the back.

If it’s in my hand, it is nearly at the cash register. Well done to that author or publishing house for doing a great job. It’s certainly doing better than the other hundred books I just walked pass.

We all pick up books based on the authors name and read the back to see what they’re up to.  We may never pick up the said book again or maybe we will add it to our series of collectables (Why? because without it my series would be incomplete. I will read it one day. Eventually).

 A great cover will make me pause an ask a question. Who are they? What is that? What’s happening? Have you ever seen a cover that was so awful that you cringed on behalf of the person who created the vomit you’re looking at?  Okay maybe I like what I like but still, there are some pretty shady cover choices out there. (For reference: “Shady” = polite version of disgusting)

I also dislike book covers that don’t fit their genre. When I see a black cat on a fence looking out of the cover with intense eyes, I instantly think Witchcraft, Sexy Witch Familiar or Cat Hybrid, certainly not urban romance of a cat lover. Do you know how disappointed I was??? EXTREMELY.  I left the bookstore in disgust. Not the stores fault but my experience was ruined.

I probably shouldn’t but I’m going to mention the Twilight series of book covers. They’re in my bookshelf, which means I don’t hate them but every time I see them, I think “Why?” These cover concepts never made any sense to me, they never really attracted me either. I read the books because a friend recommended them (hated the movies but that’s an entirely different topic). I would never have guessed the genre by the covers. I think the colour scheme is more about branding and not necessarily vampires or werewolves. I don’t know. This is just me being Judgie MacFudgie. (Happy for someone shed some light on the cover choice.)

Okay – so the BIG NEWS is (drum roll please) – I HAVE A COVER FOR MY BOOK. Yes, that’s right folks. My book hasn’t gone through a final edit yet and I have a cover.

It just popped up in front of me one day (after looking around for months and accumulating ideas). Everything I was looking for contained on one page. You wouldn’t believe how excited I was to stumble across this image produced by an artist who sells pre-made book covers for a living. After giving the image a slight tweak and of course a title change, it was my cover. The ecstasy of finally seeing what my book will look like on the shelves (major happy moment).

Now when I look at books in stores , I compare, compare, compare. I worry that when my book finally hits the market, someone might have a similar cover concept to me. I will no longer stand out from the crowd. I’ll be a follower and not a trend leader. I really need to get a hustle on.

As per usual, I picked my cover based on what I liked and then decided to do some research about designing a cover to see if I got it right so here are the most common cover tips I found:

  1. It should suit your genre. People get annoyed if the cover is misleading.
  2. Shouldn’t be dull or too busy. If you insist on depicting a scene, give plenty of space around your characters.  Don’t make me get a magnifying glass out to see what’s going on.
  3. The cover should tell me something about the story. Must be relatable.
  4. Create a focal point if you can. An unexpected splash of colour. A lone figure. An image that leads the eye to something.
  5. A series should have something that links them.  Colour, styling, or repeated imagery.
  6. Get it done professionally. A great cover shows you care about you work. Ugly and boring does not sell.
  7. The title should be smart and draw me in.
  8. Font choice, size, and placement. These all matter:
    • If your name can’t sell your book, then don’t make it the biggest thing on the cover.
    • Don’t cover great artwork with font. You’re hiding your biggest draw card.
    • Think about you colour choices for font. Colour clashes can make your book stand out on the shelf, but it can also turn readers away. Some colors are harder to read, depending on the background.
    • Your title and other wording should enhance the overall look of the cover, rather than dominating it unless that was you plan (freedom of choice).

KEEP IT SIMPLE

So, did I get it right? Yeah, I think I did. I’ve had some great feedback about my cover, and it appears to be doing what it should. My only negative is that some male readers may not be drawn to the story because my cover does have a strong female heroine vibe. In saying this would I change my cover? Probably not, I love it.

At the end of the day, our covers are for the most part small tokens of art. In my opinion art appreciation is something of an alien creature. Who knows what will be liked and what won’t? If you lack imagination, then pick something that draws your attention in the bookstore and go with it. The premise being, that this type of cover has been made because the styling works. As good a reason as any to do something similar.

At the end of the day there are no right or wrong covers because it’s your baby. You get to decide how it looks unless you’re with a publishing house in which case you may have little to zero say (can’t have it all I suppose.). Could your cover be better? Definitely. Great covers fly off shelves, so make your cover the best you can and be prepared to pay good money to get it.

Was my cover expensive? Not really and I thank my lucky stars every day for it. I will post my cover when my book comes back from its final edit.

GREAT BOOK COVERS SELL BOOKS

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