Sunday, August 31, 2014

Readers Will Judge Your Book By Its Cover

Nat Russo 

Admit it. You’ve judged a book by its cover in the past. No, you may not have put the book down and refused to buy it, but I’m willing to bet you picked one up and read the back because the cover caught your attention.
Am I wrong?

A bad cover may not hurt your sales, but a good cover will improve them. Human beings are visual creatures, and as writers/publishers we need to take advantage of this whenever possible. So how do we make sure we’re producing the best possible cover?


This can’t be overstated. Every genre will have its own set of expectations on what a “good” cover looks like. Even within genres those expectations may vary by a huge margin. For example, in my genre (Fantasy), you see covers ranging from the abstract/conceptual to covers that depict a scene from the book. I’ve always gravitated toward the latter as a fantasy reader, so I decided early on that this was the type of cover I wanted for my own book.
Just keep in mind that if your audience is looking for a cloaked figure with a dagger, and you give them Fabio with a beautiful, scantily-clad woman in his arms, you’re probably going to alienate a large part of your core audience. And vice-versa for you romance writers who are playing around with the idea of putting nothing more than a king’s crown on your cover.


Your primary goal, as an independent author at this stage of the publication process, should be to produce an end product that is virtually indistinguishable from the big publishing houses. If a reader can hold your book in one hand, and a book published by Simon and Schuster in the other, and see the difference immediately, you have failed. Remember, you’re trying to remove the obstacles between your reader and the checkout stand (virtual or otherwise). The cover is the first indication of the quality within, whether you abhor that statement or not. Look, I’m not telling you how the buying public should behave. I’m telling you how they do behave. And if your cover smacks of unprofessional quality, don’t be surprised when the reader buys the Simon and Schuster book instead.
For now, start studying professional-quality covers in your genre and see how the big boys do it. I’m not suggesting we start producing copy-cat cliche covers. But I am suggesting that we have a duty to produce covers that meet or exceed the quality of the big publishing houses. We owe this to our readers. We owe it to our own sense of professionalism.

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