Today, I have something a little different on the blog. A guest post from the fantastic Alex Tanner. I recommended her book "Paradise Incoming" right before Christmas, and she's here today to talk about the importance of book covers!
Judge a Book by its Cover
Since we were children, we’ve had the mantra ‘never judge a book by its cover’ drilled into our heads. After all, what’s important is what’s inside the book. But whilst this is good advice when turning it into a metaphor for people, is it good advice when we’re actually talking about books?
No, it isn’t. In fact it’s terrible advice. People are going to judge your book by its cover, so it’s important that your cover is the absolute Regina George of the Kindle store.
Being a cover designer myself, I’ve come to learn a lot about what it takes to make a decent book cover. It has to pop, it has to stand out, it has to be simple. Less is more where book covers are concerned.
Here are some tips to make sure your book cover stands out:
Don’t Fall Into the Genre Cover Hole
Book covers, just like anything visual, have fashions, and to say it annoys the bodily fluids out of me is an understatement.
Whilst your book’s cover must fit the theme and mood of your book (so having a chick lit novel with a black and white picture of blood and guts on the cover would be stupid), there’s no harm in stretching your boundaries.
Observe some stereotypical and frankly quite overdone book cover styles:
The cartoon chick-lit cover:
The Young Adult fantasy book covers for older readers:
The monotonous ‘erotica’ covers:
The paranormal for teens covers:
I could go on, but I might start crying if I have to look at another copy-paste book cover again. If you find yourself on a stock images website and all of this looks familiar, rethink your cover - you’ll thank me later if your book stands out from the 100s of others that look the same.
Less Really is More
We often believe that to stand out we have to be bright and noticeable. That might count for people, but for books it’s a sure-fire way to get people to see it for entirely the wrong reasons.
This is my latest book cover
I went through god knows how many designs before settling on this. They were all overly busy, too colourful and… just too much. The red and black really pops against the white, and I felt the silhouette gave it a nice touch too. It may or may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it can’t be denied that the cover, despite only having three colours, pops out.
To contrast, here is an example of what I feel is a terrible book cover.
It’s just horrible, isn’t it? The tacky silhouette, the boring typography, the total lack of design or flair. Obviously this person isn’t a dab hand in PhotoShop. Don’t let your book suffer because of it. Either learn PhotoShop, or find a service that can do it for you *polite cough* instead.
(if you want some truly bad examples of book covers, visit http://lousybookcovers.tumblr.com/ - they are all horrifyingly real and looking at them is addictive!)
No Fancy Fonts
Now let me explain this one. Fancy fonts can look great, but they can look extremely tacky as well. Look at your favourite, bestselling novels and their cover designs. Do you see wacky fonts on there? Comic Sans? Scripty-scrawly handwriting fonts? NO. And you never will, because these things are just not cricket in the cover designing world.
(Many cartoony chick-lit covers use the scripty-scrawly font option, and sometimes it makes them impossible or annoying to read from a small distance away, or in a thumbnail)
So that’s my guide. Apologies to Kyra this went on far longer than it was supposed to - I will likely continue this over on my own blog, there are so many things to consider!