Book Covers- Capturing Your Reader with Art

In the book world you will hear a lot about the importance of a good book cover. Since art is widely open to interpretation it can be a tricky topic to nail down. What appeals to one person might not even register with another, and it can be confusing and take a lot of your time only to come out the other end with something that still doesn’t do what you want it to do.  So, how do you handle this perplexing issue?

First, there are two ways a cover can be made. 1- DIY. 2. Hire a designer by purchasing a premade or commissioned cover.

In some of the author groups where I am a member I have seen many comments about doing it either way, and one that stands out to me the most. It usually comes down to money. A good cover design can be expensive, and if you are just starting out, it can seem like a good idea to get your Photoshop on and DIY.  In fact, some of THE marketing gurus have said, “you can always learn how to do it yourself.”

Yes, you can. But the thing that I think most people are missing is that visual artistic creation is a SKILL. It’s not a skill that all people have.  Yes, you can be technically proficient with whatever software you choose to use to make your cover, but that is a different thing all together.

You can be the best wordsmith ever, but that doesn’t mean your skills translate to visual art.

They can, sure, some folks are blessed by being multi-talented, but a cover is one of the 3 most important things about your book. If you can’t deliver you are only hurting yourself in the long run. This distinction is exactly the reason why screenplay adaptations are usually written by someone other than the author. Visual storytelling is a different skill set from writing a book.

If you decide to DIY here are some pitfalls to watch out for that experience has taught me.

  1. Take yourself completely OUT of the equation. You are designing a cover that should appeal to your audience. It must be on target genre wise and you must remember that what appeals to you may not be what appeals to your audience.  My first time out publishing a steamy romance series I wanted artistic covers that would set me apart from the miles of naked man chest because beefcake is not a seller for me. In going artistic I failed to realize that no matter how beautiful the artwork was, it was missing its target audience because they were conditioned to look for a certain kind of cover on steamy romance books. I lost sales because I was satisfying my own ego, and not remembering that I wasn’t trying to sell books to myself.

  2. Don’t try to tell the whole story in the cover. Covers are about mood and tone. They should evoke a specific emotional reaction from the reader when they see it. If you add in too many elements it becomes diluted or confusing and the reader will move past it rather than stop and think.

  3. Brand consistently. I used to have this hobgoblin of a boss who was always on my case about doing things consistently. I eventually came to see the value of that lesson. Series should be easily identifiable as books that go together. Your name should be consistent in font and placement on the book. By doing this you are “training” your readers to look for easily identifiable visual cues that help them recognize you and encourage confidence in purchasing your book because they already know they like your work.

  4. Be honest with yourself about your skill level in graphic design. Ever buy clothes online? That top might look adorable on that size 0 model, but will it flatter your own unique frame and body style. I’ve sent a lot of items back over the years before I realized I needed to look realistically at myself and shop for my body type.  If you aren’t being honest with yourself about your design capabilities you are not going to produce a gorgeous cover that makes the reader want to know more about your book.

Written Word Media shared this post about the Top 5 Mistakes in Cover Design that is worth a look if you are into DIY.

If you need help, ALAREON is here to lend a hand. Contact us today about a premade cover or a commission that will help you make your story shine.

Happy writing!