Book covers are extremely important. It’s the first thing a reader sees, and it’s true that people judge books by their covers. Most readers are more inclined to pick up a book with a cover they think is attractive. Of course, what one reader finds attractive in a book cover can turn other readers off.
When you consider your book cover, first think about the genre. You wouldn’t want a bare-chested stud on the cover of your sci-fi novel. Or would you?
But don’t feel restricted by your book’s genre and the cookie-cutter covers you see. If you write erotica, but don’t like the nude bodies twisted into suggestive positions on the covers of nearly every erotica book, you don’t have to do that. Think about 50 Shades of Grey for a moment. Those books were widely successful and yet a tie is pictured on the first book, a masquerade mask is on the second, and handcuffs are on the third. Your cover could also be a picture of a prop.
TIP #1: Take a trip to a bookstore and examine the covers in your niche. Find a bunch that catch your eye and write down what you like about them. Is it the colors? The font? The images?
Try answering these questions to figure out what you like and dislike:
1. Do you like covers with people or faces on it?
2. Do you like covers with scenery?
3. Do you like objects/props?
TIP #2: While writing/editing your book, think about the most important scenes and how they could be translated into a cover.
TIP #3: If a scene doesn’t work, figure out what elements are present throughout your story. For example: If your book is heavy on crime, maybe you’d want a crime scene depicted on the cover.
When it’s time for you to work with a cover artist tell him or her everything you possibly can, as most probably won’t read your book. Giving him/her the blurb to read to get a feel for your story is often a good idea.
A list of things to tell your cover artist:
1. Time and Setting
(Especially important for historical genres or books set in foreign places.)
2. Tone and Mood.
(Example: dark, romantic.)
3. Important Elements
(If your book is heavy with magic, your cover should reflect that.)
4. What does your hero and heroine look like?
(Include age, ethnicity, hair/eye color, and their physique.)
5. Do you have ideas about what the cover could look like?
(This is where you can give great detail about a scene or scenery as well as font color and type.)
Not every writer has the chance to work closely with their cover artist. With my small press, I never get the chance to talk one on one with the cover artist. I only have one chance to convey what I want for my covers by filling out a form. If you have the opportunity to give input and see samples throughout the process then you are lucky!
One more thing...not everyone has the same experience working with their cover artist. You may end up with a cover you love or one you hate. The good thing is, you usually get the chance to decline a cover.
Personal Story: For my novella, 30 Seconds, the head of marketing sent me an email to tell me the cover artist went in a different direction with my cover and I was allowed to see it to approve or reject it. Well, it was all wrong. The cover would’ve been great for a crime novel, but not a romantic-suspense. The only thing that the cover artist did that I suggested was the title designed to look like a countdown. When I rejected it, I hand-picked the picture of a police car and a red-headed woman, which are now featured on my cover. See above.
SHARE: Do you have a horror cover art story?
QUESTIONS: What kinds of book covers do you like the best? Do you fantasize about the covers for your WIPs? Do you have a go-to cover artist?