Choosing a cover for my book was simple but getting it right…not so simple.
BOOK COVERS ARE MINITURE ADVERTISING BILLBOARDS
You need to get your book off the shelf and into buyers’ hands. This is what your cover does. You can have the best blurb on the back and the most amazing story inside, but neither of these things will help you, if you can’t entice your buyer with your cover. Getting it right can be the difference between 200 or 20,000 sales.
Your cover should hit these three things:
- Your Genre – sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, etc.
- Market age for your story. – adult fiction, youth.
- Appeal of imagery – does it grab your target audience?
Some general recommendation before deciding on your cover concept:
- Check out what’s already in the bookstores for cover ideas.
- The configuration or balance of the covers – title, author’s name, design, font.
- How to build consistency through a series.
I visited my local bookstores and library for inspiration, but here’s the thing; I know what I like and what catches my attention in each genre. My outing was beneficial, when considering how to apportion my cover space and series building concepts.
Big name authors sell books on their name– so the author’s name had pride of place. Graphics on their covers are often minimal and book title bold. You pick up the book because of the author, then you look at the graphic and read the title.
If you’re not in the same league as the heavyweights, your Title and Design need to be sharp and on target for your genre. These are the things that will catch your buyer’s attention. You want the readers for your genre to pick up your book, so make it easy for them to find.
On a recent outing I selected a book that had pretty Japanese blossoms on a black background, with gold lettering as their cover. I can’t remember the title, but the story was about an internal power struggle within the Yakuza (I remember the storyline because it was so at odds with the cover). Why would they use such a feminine concept? This was a lost opportunity to do something amazing. I get the nod to Japan but Katanas, tattoos, dragons, men in dark suits with swords/guns…so many options.
Perhaps the cover did its job because I picked it up. But did I buy it? NO, because if this is the best cover their imagination can produce, what must the story be like? And the cover did not deliver my genre expectation. I thought it was a Romance based in Japan.
That was a perfect example of a COVER NOT MEETING THE GENRE AND NOT ATTRACTING THE RIGHT READER TO BUY THE BOOK.
This is stage two mock-up cover for my first book. I have opted for a fantasy landscape rather that depicting characters from the book. Book One- will illustrate the place where the Test of Balance will be completed. As the title alone is not obviously fantasy, I need to pay more attention to the imagery. My cover artist is working on it now, to make it scream “fantasy” at first glance.
At least I caught my mistake in time…although people who have seen the cover, love it and can’t wait to add it to their bookshelves. Maybe I’m being pedantic, but I want to catch the discerning buyers who have genre expectations. There won’t be that initial pull towards my book if it doesn’t fit the fantasy concept at first glance. The covers for the next two books in this series have no issues because their titles and imagery are definitely fantasy.
If you take anything from my words today…….it should be: YOUR COVER MUST SUIT YOUR GENRE. Get this right and you will find your buyer’s (there are always exceptions to the rule but….).
One last thing: Nasty covers that catch your attention for all the wrong reasons. Competition for the buyer’s dollar is intense. Do yourself a favor and not limit your audience by the content of your cover (unless you already have a following, in which case – go for it).
I WANT TO WRITE A STORY SO I CAN USE THIS IMAGE ON MY COVER …IT’S AMAZING