Judging Book Covers

This always seems like a hot topic, particularly where it concerns independent publishing. We’re all told how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but, well, we do. It’s human instinct. At lightning speed, we associate things with what we see: pleasure, boredom, disgust, intrigue… If you see a plate full of brown, gooshy, lumpy something, what’s your first reaction? I’ll bet you don’t want to eat it. And if you see a book with a poor cover—too busy, text that is tiny or otherwise obscure, amateur photoshopping—your instincts go “ew” and you move on. (Unless you’re morbidly attracted to literary train-wrecks.) The thing is, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. And if an author doesn’t put some real care into that first view we get of his or her work, what does that indicate about the contents? If you’re going to put your book out in the world to “see how it does,” then don’t you want to give the very best chance of success possible?

Biba Pearce points out on Jane Friedman’s blog, “An ebook cover has an important job to do. Not only does it present your book to the world, but it also says a lot about you, the author. It can be a powerful selling and marketing tool, or it can damage your image as an author and lead to dismal sales.”

On his blog, “The Book Designer,” Joel Friedlander holds monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards, and  often adds valuable comments to the submissions. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer struggling to get a handle on what works and what doesn’t, this is a fantastic resource. Here’s a rundown of what he hopes to accomplish by running the awards (which come with a nice, shiny web badge for you to brag with if you win):

  • Have a look at a range of e-book cover designs
  • See what other self-publishers are doing with their e-book covers
  • Get inspiration for your own cover design efforts
  • Learn why some covers work better than others

I have a file on my computer where I stash pictures of book covers that especially appeal to me. It’s the first place I go for inspiration (not thievery) when it’s time to do a cover, and sometimes I go through it just because the artwork is so yummilicious to look at.

On “Author Solutions,” Keith Ogorek gives us Six Tips From Wicked Good Book Cover Designers:

  • Do your research.
  • Pay attention to your genre.
  • Pick a focal point.
  • Image matters. 
  • Check the thumbnail. 
  • Choose your colors carefully.

He provides a chart, too, to describe what colors communicate. Neato, mosquito.

This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share some of my favorite e-book covers. So, without further ado, here we go…
What do you think? What are some of your favorite book covers?

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