We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover… in reality that’s exactly what most of your readers will be doing. There are lot of reasons a reader may choose to pick up your book- the blurb, great reviews, a promotion, but a cover is the fastest way for a reader to assess whether a book is the kind of thing they might like to read. Beyond being beautiful, it has a lot of work to do.
1. Genre & Trends
Covers, like all things, are subject to trends. While no one wants their cover to be a shameless knock off of a recent bestseller, designers will use certain themes- colour schemes, type, imagery- in order to convey whether a book is a psych suspense page turner or a meandering literary novel. Similarly, certain design elements tend to be associated with certain themes or plot points and all of this helps a reader decide whether to flip a book over to read the blurb.
2. The Thumbnail vs The Bookstore Table
Your cover needs to stand out wherever it is. A lot of people will first encounter your book in the form of a thumbnail image on amazon. Your cover may look beautiful in hardback, but unless it works when its reduced to a tiny image on a screen, a lot of readers may never take a chance on what’s inside.
3. The best cover for your book won’t always be the one you love the most
We all have a dream cover in mind for any book and sometimes the author, the agent, the editor, sales, marketing, retailers and the designer all have different views on what the perfect cover is. It’s important that you love your cover, it’s the billboard for a book you’ve poured your heart and soul into, but it’s important to remember that all of these professionals have reasons for their opinions too. Make your views known, but listen to theirs too.
Kate Evans is the publisher of Ipso Books, the publishing arm of Peters Fraser + Dunlop.