If you’re an indie author and you want to attract readers, your book cover design really matters. It’s one of your most important marketing tactics.
Have you ever gone into a bookstore and felt overwhelmed by all the books to choose from?
What motivates you to pick up an unknown book?
Snappy or intriguing title? Or were you attracted by the cover image? Did it call to you to investigate further and check out the back cover blurb?
Cover design is the magnet that draws the eye and piques curiosity. It can draw attention even from the other side of a bookstore. Even from a distance, when you can’t yet read the author’s name or the book’s title.
And that’s why your book cover design matters.
Of course, book covers accomplish other things too. They indicate genre, age group, connect to existing trends, even hint at the story’s atmosphere (creepy, suspenseful, erotic).
Cover art speaks to emotions – and this is important in marketing.
There are genres where speaking to emotions is particularly important – romance being the primary example. But you might be in the mood for something suspenseful or creepy. Horror and thriller covers also speak to a potential reader’s emotions.
The style of the cover might connect to a particular subgenre or resemble the cover art on a more famous book. This is a way for publishers to indicate fast that if you like those other books in this category, you’ll probably like this one too.
With so many books to choose from, a design department has to come up with ways to make it easy for the right readers to find their book. The cover art offers visual clues. The book’s title might also offer clues.
Your book needs to stand out from the crowd. In a saturated market – and this is particularly true on Amazon – you need people to see that your book exists. And that it looks professional, intriguing, exciting.
If the cover is plain and offers no hints about the genre, someone browsing on Amazon is likely to ignore it.
Book buyers are accustomed to helpful cover design – covers that act as filters for what they do and don’t like.
The cover design should attract the right readers. It should never trick people into thinking the book is something it isn’t.
For example, you wouldn’t put a historical couple embracing on the cover of a modern horror novel. If a reader buys the book on the basis of the cover alone, they are going to feel cheated.
Also, if the cover art and design are subpar, it will be difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Furthermore, if the design is poor, potential readers will likely draw conclusions about the overall quality of the book, including the story, characterisation, formatting, etc.
A good cover shows the writer has taken a professional approach to their work. But it also allows the writer to better compete with traditionally published authors.
If your book looks like a traditionally published book, it’s more likely to draw readers.
As well as using high-quality cover art, you should ensure your covers look good as thumbnails because this is how they will appear on sites like Amazon.
Equally, you need to make sure your fonts match your genre and cover design, and that the text is clear and readable both at full size and in thumbnail.
Most people cannot produce great cover art or choose the right fonts for their own books.
Even people with design skills can do a bad job because cover art and what works for the market are not their specialties.
Also, cover art should be chosen on the basis of what appeals to readers rather than what a writer might want. This might seem annoying, but if you want to attract sales, you have to put yourself in the place of readers.
It’s worth doing quite a lot of research on your genre, particularly in relation to the newest styles and what the traditional publishing industry is producing.
Design departments in publishing houses have experts who know what they’re doing. If they’re following a particular trend, you can jump on board.
Indie authors who want high-quality book covers have a number of options. You can hire designers for bespoke covers, or you can visit a site that is selling premade cover art. In the case of the latter, the fonts are already in place. You just need to change the title, author name, etc.
Some premade cover art sells for hundreds of dollars, but there are decent covers for well under $100. If you only want an ebook cover, the price is lower. If you want a back cover for a print edition, you’ll have to pay more.
Likewise, if you want to add in banner advertising, and ads for specific social media sites, that pushes the price up further.
However, a streamlined set of marketing images to use on multiple platforms is a great professional look that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Sites providing premade covers
Please note – I have not tried any of these services, so I cannot recommend them. They are just examples of the kinds of sites out there.