Posted On September 9, 2016 by Print This Post

Importance of Book Covers for New Authors by Stacey Marone

Freelance writer STACEY MARONE joins us today in her first visit to RU.

Without a cover, a book is merely bits of paper bound together.

Getting a book published for the first time is very exciting. Even if you are a repeatedly published author, the feeling of seeing a new story that you have put your blood sweat and tears into on the shelf is very rewarding. It is a lot of work, and until you have yourself written a book, you will not properly appreciate everything that needs to be considered and done. It is so much more than simply coming up with a story and writing dialogue. You most importantly, you will need to truly understand the book before you can properly design a cover for it.

The outside is as important as the inside.

While it is commonly heard that one should not judge a book by its cover, unfortunately it is the nature of humans to do so. Putting it mildly, there are millions of books on offer (129 million, according to Google Books), and in any one book store there will be hundreds if not thousands, of books to choose from. And they all have one thing in common – they are designed to be read and enjoyed. But nobody in the world would have the chance to read every book, so even the most avid of readers need to make a choice about which books to peruse and which stay on the shelves. The competition is huge. No matter what you are writing about (a fiction book about dragons, or a self-help book about overcoming phobias), chances are there will already have been someone who has written something similar.

So unless you are a celebrity author who is guaranteed a best seller (such as Suzanne Collins or Stephen King), even if you have the most interesting or relevant book imaginable, if you cannot tempt the reader, then it is fundamentally useless i It will sit on the shelves and nobody will be able to benefit from the contents. So when we say ‘the outside is as important as the inside’, we mean the physical outside of the book. It is the first thing that a potential reader will see. The book cover needs to be given a great deal of attention as it can literally mean the difference between a successful book and one that is forgotten.

The actual book’s content is still critically important, and if you need any assistance with writing or editing, then there are many good companies such as essays.scholaradvisor, who are able to offer the services of talented writers.

What makes a good book cover?

It sounds easy in theory – design a book cover that suits the story and is appealing to the eye. However, all you have to do is Google ‘bad book covers’ and you will see that there are some truly shocking and uninspiring ones that made it to print. The cover is also more than just a picture or image – it includes the inclusion and placement of the title of the book, any subtitles (if necessary), and even the authors name. If you have a great cover image but the title is too small to even read or placed in an ineffective position, then it will ruin the entire cover.

In reality, it is hard to simply say ‘use this trick and you are guaranteed a good cover’. Different books in different genres marketed at different groups of people will have different ideas of what makes a good cover. So what is it about a good book cover that makes it good? There are some general features in good covers, highlighted below, although keep in mind that these are generalizations.

Features of a good book cover:

• Captures the theme of the book. If the book is dark, the book cover will need to represent it. If the book is silly, then the cover will want to be silly.
• Avoid obviously computer edited graphics – they will look cheap.
• If you use photography images, make them high-quality (not like they have been scanned onto a piece of paper).
• Ensure it is easy on the eye – a bright red background with yellow writing will never work.
• The design has no rules – the cover can be from a scene in the book, it can be words alone with no image, it can be like an abstract painting, it can be very busy (lots of color) or very quiet (pastel background with small black writing). As long as it looks professional and is relatable to the readers, it will work.

Your book cover has no limitations except for your imagination

Do not forget about yourself

A picture says a thousand words, and the cover is not the only picture that should feature in a book (not including pictures within the writing of course). The front cover should always build interest, however it is a pity that so many authors forget about themselves and fail to put a self-promoting picture either on the back cover or inside cover. This may seem like a vain thing to do, but there is always the chance that someone will take the time to read your bio and look at your photo and be interested in learning more. Also it adds a human touch – lets the reader know that what they have read was written by a real person. If it is good enough for J.K Rowling, then it should be good enough for you.
Just a couple of tips for the promo section of the cover:

• Do not make it too posed, or too casual. Be yourself and smile. Always show your face.
• Write a brief and interesting bio. No-one wants to read your life story, just where you grew up, how many books you have written and if you have a pet dog. Things people will be interested in.
• Think about colors. Do not use a lot of bright, contrasting colors if the story or book is serious. It needs to match the overall theme of the rest of the book.


When you purchase books, how much does the cover influence your choices?

DAMON SUEDE is back at RU on Monday, September 12.





Stacey Marone is a graduate of Social Sciences and freelance writer. She likes exploring new cultures, languages and gathering interesting facts. In her free time, she also does volunteer work and organizes some activities for children. You can follow her on Twitter.

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7 Responses to “Importance of Book Covers for New Authors by Stacey Marone”

  1. Thanks for this post, Stacey! I have a couple friends who are self-published and have cover design down to a fine art. I was amazed at all the things they consider before making their final selection. There seem to be a lot more design tools/options for authors today.

    I don’t think those who publish with big publishers get much say in their covers, but for the most part I think the covers at least look professional.

    I rarely buy a book for its cover, but often a beautiful or interesting cover will lead me to check out a back cover blurb. And when I like the author already, it’s a real joy to have their books on the shelf when the covers are as good as the content!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | September 9, 2016, 9:46 am
  2. Thinking about covers made me remember hearing about a couple of pretty awful mistakes:

    Check out the comments at this link for a lot more cover horror stories:

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | September 9, 2016, 10:00 am
  3. Good post. I just sent a MS to an agent…a first for me. So this post is very interesting for me, though I’m still a long way from discussing a cover for my novel. I choose books based on a number of factors. I am very visual so a good cover will really attract me and if I am browsing and don’t know the author the cover influences me. If I know the author and like her/him then I choose according to that, but I still appreciate a great cover. If I am undecided a cover can influence me to choose or not choose.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this post.

    Posted by Diana Holvik | September 9, 2016, 3:29 pm
  4. So do we judge a book by its cover? aha! Thanks for sharing this post, enjoyed reading through the tips (:

    Posted by David Colin | September 9, 2016, 4:27 pm


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