We’re told as children never to judge a book by its cover. We’re told that to do so would be to perhaps miss out on something really important or really wonderful. Just because something is ugly on the outside, doesn’t mean that it isn’t beautiful on the inside. And yet…

Judging a book by its cover is exactly what we do when we’re shopping for something to read.

A beautiful cover is one of your greatest marketing tools. Because of this, you need to make sure that the cover your book is not only beautiful but arresting, descriptive and professionally done.

Throwing something together on Photoshop just isn’t going to cut it. Here are five things you should consider when putting a cover to your book:

  1. Font size – is the font you’re using easily readable both large and in thumbnail?
  2. Font style – is it a font that reflects your genre and the type of book you’re writing AND easy to read? No one’s going to click on a book cover when they can’t read the title of the book.
  3. Professional images – does whatever image you’re using look professional or is it clear that this a snap that you took yourself? Do you have the copyright permission to use this image on a work that you’re going to sell? That usually means that you will need to purchase an extended license. Be sure to check that you have the proper permissions.
  4. What does the image say? Does it tell a piece of your story? Does it reflect what’s already stated in your title? (It’s a picture of a vampire and your title is Vampire Lover – if you’ve got the word vampire in your title, you don’t need to put a picture of one on the cover, choose another image that teases more of what your story is about.)
  5. How many images do you have? I’ve seen covers with a picture of a person, a house floating somewhere above them and a city skyline below. I’ve got no idea what is going on in this book or the cover! Another one had a man and woman in a clutch, a house below them and someone’s mother looking disapprovingly on. Huh?! Why would I want to buy a book with a scowling woman on the cover? Fewer images are easier to decipher. Keeping it simple is the best way to go.

When I’m working with my designer to create a cover for a new book, I like to take a look at similar books in my genre. What’s popular? What colors are people using? Are they putting just one person on the cover or two? Or none – there was a time when inanimate objects were the thing. Recently, in Regency romance, you had a woman from behind with a huge long train flowing (or flying) behind her or along side her. This has given way more recently to women looking straight at the reader. There are a few men, but more women. For a while purple was a really popular color, now every hue seems to be represented.

Know what’s popular and what other authors in your genre are doing. You might even go so far as to do a pop test: copy eight covers in your genre and arrange them in a 3×3 square along with yours and see how yours either blends in with the others or pops out. Find the one that draws your eye. It’s a great way to see how your cover compares to others and whether it will attract readers.

I’m hoping to have new covers to show off to you within a few weeks!