By Hazel Mills, author
A few years ago, I was a faithful member of a book club that met once a month at a local bookstore. At the end of every discussion, we would select the book for the next month’s meeting. The process for selecting the book would go one of three ways: 1) someone would suggest a book from the list of new releases, 2) we would choose a title from a tried and true favorite author or 3) the book store employees would spread six or seven books on the table, mostly by new and/or unknown authors, and we would choose from the pile. The books that were chosen from the pile were chosen almost solely for one reason; the cover.
The cover of your book tells the story even before the story is read. It’s the first thing the potential reader sees and touches. I am not ashamed to admit I have read quite a few books I wouldn’t have otherwise if were not for the cover. You’ve heard the saying, “people eat with their eyes first”. Well, that statement also applies to book covers. The cover has to instantly excite, intrigue or stimulate the reader to take it from the shelf and possibly add it to their cart. In an article on the importance of book covers published by the Huffington Post, Smashwords founder, Mark Coker was quoted as saying, “Our brains are wired to process images faster than words.”
Book covers should be done by a professional. This is especially important if you are an indie or self-published author. If you are a self-published author, the bulk of your publishing and production budget should be spent on professional editing and professional cover art. If your cover art is poorly done, you’ve pretty much shot yourself in the foot before the book makes it into the hands of readers, merchandise managers and book reviewers. An author’s cover art creates their brand and gives the reader a glimpse of what they can expect inside the book. No one should be able to tell that your book is self-published just by looking at it. This is not the time for a “do-it-yourself” project with Adobe Photoshop. Do your research. Talk to fellow authors and industry professionals to find the right cover artist for your project. An expert cover artist will gladly give references and/or show you a portfolio of their work. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you deem necessary. The work will represent you and you should be comfortable with your choice.
The cover art should be uncluttered and the text should be simple and easy to read. It should also match the genre of the book. A romance novel with a baboon gracing the cover will likely spend a long time on the store shelves or in boxes in your basement (unless you find someone who is into that sort of thing. I’m not judging). Remember, the goal is to attract readers and to make your book a cinch to market and merchandise.
All in all, people do judge books (and authors) by their covers. There is just no way to avoid that reality. You’ve spent weeks, months, maybe even years of your life constructing the perfect story. Don’t allow a poorly designed book cover to cause all of your hard work to go to waste and ultimately leave potential money on the table.
Hazel Mills is the award winning author of " Bare Necessities: Sensuous Tales of Passion" and "Journey to Surrender" as well as contributing author to countless anthologies, including "Mocha Chocolate: Taste a Piece of Ecstasy", edited by Shani Greene-Dowdell. Find her on Facebook at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @hmillsstories