Judging You ...

March 13, 2016

We’ve all heard the phrase; Don’t judge a book by its cover. Yet, as you wander through the bookstore, you can’t help but do exactly that. I can hear all of you out there saying, “Oh no, I never do that!” Don’t lie, come on we all do it.


The cover is the first thing you see as you wander past the shelf, it’s natural to judge the covers and pick up only the ones that appeal to you. Then you move on to the summary, if that interests you then you might read a couple of pages of the first chapter. After that, if you are still interested, you buy the book.


Covers are the all important bit to draw your readers in before they even get a glimpse of your actual writing. If they can’t get past a glaringly bad cover that makes them want to run the other direction, it won’t matter how great your story is. They’ll never read it.


Don’t crowd your cover with ever element of your story you believe is important. Crowded covers are bad covers. Readers don’t want to try and decipher the meaning behind a cover. They want something eye catching and appealing to look at.


A clean simple cover is best. That’s not saying you have to go with a very minimally designed cover. Picking one or two major elements of your story to display on the cover, be it a character or object, is a good plan. Throwing everything up there confuses a reader, their eye doesn’t know where to settle and they may bypass your book and not even understand why the cover turned them away.


“I have a friend who draws! They can make me a cover!” Don’t do this simply to save money. Unless your friend (relative, neighbor … whoever) can draw museum quality art, you could end up with something that would look more at home on your fridge than a book cover. The same would be true if someone you know is “good” with a camera.


Just be careful of what kind of quality you end up with when it’s finished. You want your cover to appear professional.


Fonts are just as important as the images you choose. Picking a font that’s difficult to read simply because you happen to like it may send readers away as well. Choose a font that not only fits the title and genre of your book, but also is easy to read.


For the original cover of the first book of my Chosen series, I mistakenly choose a hard to read font because I thought it fit well with the theme. My cover was also extremely dark. It didn’t matter that I liked the cover; if readers couldn’t get past it, they wouldn’t read the book.  I ended up changing it to the cover I have now, which is a very minimal cover. You can see the differeance in the covers at the top of the post.


I’ve learned quite a bit from other authors I’ve met along the way about cover design. It’s just as important as your actual story. Your story can be engaging and entertaining, but if readers never crack open that cover, they’ll never know what your writing is like.


Just remember, your readers are judging you or rather your book, by the cover. Put thought into your cover design, don’t just throw something together and believe people will still read it simply because your writing is good. A select few might get past a bad cover design, but not many.


If you’re frightened by the thought of trying to create your own cover you can hire someone to do it for you, make certain you’re okay with giving feedback and telling them if you don’t like something. If you can’t then you may pay for a cover you aren’t completely happy with in the end.


Print covers are different from an Ebook cover. There are different requirements for each. If you decide to create your own cover design and aren’t certain how to go about it, check with local libraries and see if they offer any classes taught by local authors. Find a writers’ group, sometimes there are authors willing to help and give advice to newer writers.


Even online writing sites can be helpful, simply speaking with other writers and bouncing ideas off of them.


Whether you’re creating cover art for books on a writing site or for a published book, you want something to attract your readers and draw them in to take a closer look. You can take a look at this link: Lousy Book Covers if you want to see some examples of bad covers. 


How do all of you choose a book? Are you judging those covers?

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© 2012 by Victoria Kaer