HOW DO YOU PICK A BOOK? Whether it’s online or off the shelf, we are visual creatures and will first be drawn to the spine or cover of a book by color and design. If Titles are King, Covers are Queen.
My first book was a slim volume of poetry, whose spine barely stretched to a half-inch. Easy to miss. Almost invisible on the shelf. Matching sales. But when bookstore owners displayed the book face up on a table, people began snapping it up and I sold every copy. Some people, I swear, didn’t even read it. They just liked its unusual black and white design, square shape and pebbled surface. Self-published, that first book cover was designed by a friend.
My previous books were standalone titles, so I’m new to the series genre. Lucky for me, Hauser Publishing is a small operation and so I still get a lot of say in the process. We brainstorm and then they work up a couple samples for me to look at and we go back and forth from there.
After going through this process a few times, with both fiction and non-fiction titles, here are a couple of things I now keep in mind when it comes to cover design:
1. Does my cover accurately predict, in tone and content, what’s inside? You want to attract the kind of reader who will like what you wrote. Don’t put a cutsey cover on a blood and guts CSI novel, or vice versa.
2. If I have an image of my main character in the series on the cover, am I going to like that image 20 years from now, when, hopefully, I’m putting Book 20 to bed? I’m not sure how important it is that all of the physical features match exactly, but I do think it’s important that the feel of your character comes through.
3. Does my title work with the images? Does the whole design work?
4. It goes without saying that you need a professional to design and professionally finalize your cover. There’s so much more to it than the main picture on the front, or selecting colors and fonts.
Whatever you do – don’t stress about it – make a good one and let it go – it’s just a book, after all.