Can You Really Tell a Book by It’s Cover?

Every forum you read and every bit of advice you get as an author is that the cover of your book (whether in print or digital form) is very important. Not just very important but REALLY, REALLY important. Why? Because apparently in the publishing world today, where there are more authors and more books than ever, your cover may be the first and only opportunity you have to distinguish your book from the rest. While I love the old sentiment that you can’t always tell a book by it’s cover (and it may be true), it doesn’t necessarily apply to self-publishing.

When you browse the aisles of a book store, you are often looking for something familiar. Maybe it’s a bestselling author who is one of your favorites, a cookbook, or a recent biography. Either way, the cover in those cases has very little influence on whether or not you purchase the book. You wanted it or you wouldn’t have been looking for it in the first place. When readers browse Amazon for something new, they often look at the recommended selections or “what’s new.” If those readers don’t recognize your name (and why would they if they aren’t your mother?), you need to grab them with that tiny little picture that is your book cover. Then, if you’re lucky, they will click on it and read your fabulous summary. This will be followed by a click on the “Buy it” button (indulge me here). But you get the picture. Try to get the best cover you can.

Over the last several weeks, I have spent countless hours with the interior of my book, formatting it for both Amazon’s CreateSpace and e-book options (Haven’t tackled Smashwords yet but will do that while waiting for my CreateSpace proof). Yes, I edited and edited, uploaded and edited again, and uploaded again (can you feel my pain?). It is not an easy process but even harder is not rushing into the final stages. Now that the text is there, I am eager to see everything complete but it’s important to take a step back and make sure the cover is right for my book. The artist designing my cover is very talented and has some great ideas. Here are two of his early versions, both of which I like but will not be the final cover:

I can’t lie. Even though neither of these covers made the final cut, it is thrilling to see them anyway. And as you can see, the artist has a good handle on what works. Our goal is to create a sense of mystery and curiosity. What do you think? Would you be interested in finding out more?

In thinking about my final cover, I have scoured community forums and read several articles. But most importantly, I have simply looked at hundreds of covers already on Amazon in my genre. While it’s overwhelming, I recommend doing this. Although no one should try to copy another’s work, you might like a font, or general layout, or even like the work enough to try and find out who created the cover. If you’ve done your best on your book thus far, don’t you deserve to make it look it’s best, too?

The plan is to have my cover this week and subsequently order the proof. I’m keeping my fingers crossed all goes well. Either way, however, I know my cover will be just what I was looking for.

What do you think makes a great cover?

Published by K.L. Murphy

Author of Her Sister's Death and The Detective Cancini Mysteries

2 thoughts on “Can You Really Tell a Book by It’s Cover?

  1. The top one is my favorite. For some reason, the lighthouse looks mysterious or spooky. I’d be interested in reading more–at least reading the back cover or excerpt–if I saw any of those images 🙂

    Keep smiling,

Leave a Reply