Tag Archives: book covers

Paperback copies of The Fey Man and The Unquiet Sword

Why Book Covers Matter

I’ve recently posted a couple of blogs about what goes into making a good book cover. It’s an obvious area of interest for any writer (especially if they’ll have to design it themselves) and it’s easier to talk about covers than about writing. “Today I wrote ten words and deleted nine of them” isn’t that interesting. Well, it is to me. But I’m special. My mummy says so.

Anyway over the weekend my brother asked me why I was “obsessed” with book covers. We can debate the semantics, but it raises an interesting question: why do book covers matter?

A writer could have written the greatest masterpiece history will ever see. But a reader won’t be able to see that. All they see is the cover. A bookstore browser will spend on average eight seconds looking at the front cover[source]. That might seem too short to worry about, but in eight seconds a book cover can:

• tell the reader that this is their kind of book;
• intrigue and encourage them into reading the back;
• impress the reader with its quality and suggest the content is just as good.

I know what you’re thinking: anyone can say that covers matter. But where’s the empirical proof?

Thankfully those chaps over at The Book Smugglers have conducted a survey of 616 readers. I recommend reading the whole thing, but I’ll summarise the best points:

• 48% said covers play a major role in their decision to purchase a book (though 41% said they played a minor role);
• 72% said “it depends” when asked if a good book cover could compel them to buy a book;
• an astonishing 40% said a book cover could be or has been the sole factor in a book purchase.

You’ll notice that none of these figures have blown your socks off. That’s because the cover’s job is not to sell the book. It’s to get the reader to pick it up. Those 72% who said “it depends” were probably thinking “it depends on the blurb and a sample of the writing itself”. The cover gets the reader’s attention. The content sells it.

And in a world that is seeing more and more books published, getting noticed is more important than ever. So I think my “obsession” is rather well-founded.

Find out how the cover of The Fey Man was created? Find out here, or download a copy of the novel for free to see it for yourself!

Paperback copies of The Fey Man and The Unquiet Sword

What Makes A Good Book Cover?

Being married to an artist is great. Sometimes she’ll drag you to a Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit, and other times she’ll make you watch the Next Great Artist reality programme. The latter might sound terrible, but I got sucked in big time because they asked the artists to design a book cover. But, truth be told, I wasn’t a fan of the winning cover.

John Parot's book cover design for The Time MachineContestant John Parot designed this cover for H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, but it doesn’t work as a book cover for me. It looks like nothing more than a colour pattern, yet it won where other, more relevant and less colourful, efforts were left by the wayside. The reasoning seemed to be that you could see the cover across the book shop.

Is that the only criteria for a good book cover these days? Never one to leave a question unanswered, I’ve garnered feedback, done the research, and this is what I’ve come up with so far:

1. Remember the size

In these days of online shopping, a book cover is displayed as a small thumbnail. That means images and text need to be readable at small sizes. For this reason, make the title large, don’t use overly decorative fonts and make sure the cover still has a strong focus.

2. Keep it simple, make it bold

Few articles about book cover design fail to make mention of the Twilight Saga covers. But they get mentioned for a reason: they’re striking and they grab the attention through high contrast and simple design. You don’t have to copy the style but you can borrow the lessons. The cover’s job is to grab the attention instantly. Big, bold images can do that.

3. Don’t be afraid of your demographic

If you’ve written a fantasy novel, does the cover design appeal to fantasy readers? If the cover doesn’t encourage them to buy it, is it really going to encourage anyone else?

4. Avoid stock photos

I know a lot of indie publishers swear by stock photography, but let’s be honest: it sticks out like a sore thumb and screams amateur. Commission some original art. It’s worth the investment.

5. Avoid too much symbolism

Yes, the violin is symbolic of your hero’s quest to be heard by his peers, but a stonking great violin on a book cover will tell people that this is a book about violins. If they don’t like violins, they won’t pick it up. Symbolism is great in the text, but the cover is pure marketing; its only purpose is to encourage a customer to buy it.

Cover to the epic fantasy novel The Fey Man by James T Kelly6. Read Joel Friedlander’s Book Designer Blog

A bonus tip! Joel Friedlander’s Book Designer site is a fantastic resource for anyone who is looking to self-publish a book; it’s brimming over with information. Book cover design is just one aspect of the things he examines, but you should definitely start reading it now.

Does the cover design for The Fey Man follow this advice? Feel free to let me know what you think of it. And don’t forget, you can download a copy of the novel for free!