I’m constantly looking at book covers as part of my “job” here at Indies Unlimited. On top of that, I run into authors posting their covers in groups all the time, asking for input. So I see a LOT of covers. And most of them all have the same issues.
What I find most ironic is that the same people keep posting book covers with the same problems. I don’t get that. Please allow me to make something perfectly clear. And I’m not just making this up to be difficult or bossy or right. I’m speaking from experience. I used to provide my own cover art to my small Indie publisher – and because of that, I’ve taken some lumps. But I’ve also learned some important things about book covers. I share this knowledge freely, to help my fellow Indie authors. Book covers are important. We all want to make a good first impression. Book sales count on it.
But I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t want to listen to my advice, but, silly me, I keep giving it in hopes that I can help someone, maybe… someday. What would happen if I started advising them to do the exact OPPOSITE of what should be done? Do you think maybe THEN they’d do the opposite just out of spite and end up with a decent cover? How about we give it a try? With that in mind, here are my top five tips for better book covers.
#1 – Black type on a dark background works great, as does white type on a light background, and so on. Frankly, I think titles should be camouflaged so that the reader has a challenge – what could be more fun? In fact, don’t be shy. Go all the way. Make the type and the background the SAME color. They’ll love that, really!
#2 – I see you’ve featured your name across the cover in a huge, bright-colored font. It looms over your title. Interesting. And it’s your first book, you say? So you have no name recognition? Hmmm. Okay, then. My thoughts? Forget the title, because, really, it’s just in the way. Turn that book sideways and make your name as big as possible. Yes, just your name. No one cares about the title anyway, so you might as well get rid of it.
#3 – Let me get this straight: the title of your book is Jody Goes to Hollywood, Book 1: the Zombies Who Kept Their Souls and Now Fight Crime and Eat Twizzlers Instead of Flesh Series? Honestly? That makes my head hurt. Oh, but it makes it hurt in a good way, of course. Riiiiiight. Question: why’d you stop there with the title? I mean, you have room for a few more keywords. Seriously, that title is not nearly long enough. You know what? Forget the keywords, you should probably just add the entire first paragraph of the book. That’ll get attention, I’m sure.
#4 – That font is really generic. I can’t tell what genre your book is supposed to be. Never mind that it’s slapped on top of what looks like a third grader’s pencil drawing. I’m guessing maybe you made that cover yourself? Good! Readers love that! It makes them feel “closer” to the author. The drawing has a special meaning, you say? They have to read the book to “get it” you say? Well, that’s even better! Because you know, of course they’ll read the entire book before they see the cover. That’s like an added bonus for people who buy your book. That’s pure genius! Wish I’d thought of it myself.
#5 – When I shrink your cover down into a thumbnail, I feel like I’m looking at a teeny tiny abstract painting. I really can’t make out the title or your name, or the image… But that’s okay! No, don’t worry about it, no one wants to be able to read your title when the cover is in thumbnail size. I mean, who besides every shopper on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble or iTunes or any other online store is going to see your book in thumbnail size? Nah, don’t worry yourself with it! Readers carry magnifying glasses, and like I said in #1 – they love a challenge.
Yes, I’m thinking from now on that those will be my responses to people if they ask for my opinions on their cover designs. Either way, it’s a win, really. If they ignore me and do the opposite, they’ll end up with a better looking cover. If they actually implement those suggestions, then that should make it easier for my own books to get noticed. I’m really starting to like this idea. Now where are those Twizzlers? That zombie book made me hungry.