Why your cover art matters

The old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” does not apply to actual books! Everybody judges a book by its cover.

Book cover art is one of the most crucial aspects of marketing your book. It is the first thing people see after all.

The cover is what attracts the buyer to the book. It makes it stand out among the mundane books on the shelf and it adds an extra layer to the buyer’s experience. I mean who doesn’t want to carry around a pretty book? 

Note, If your book cover doesn’t look like any effort has been put into it, it sends a message to the buyer that the writing may not have effort put into it either. 

What makes great book cover art?

When thinking about your book cover art, the following should be taken into account to make a breathtaking cover that draws buyers in.

Entice engagement

The main point of a book cover is to entice engagement, get people interested, and make them read the blurb. The blurb is then what sells the book.

In our above showcase, I’ve put books that are personally engaging to me, and that makes me want to know more. The next few points will go over exactly how to do this.

Strong contrast

High contrast (light and dark)

A strong contrast is one of the most important things you could have on your cover for 2 main reasons… 

Firstly, when a buyer picks up a book they want to be able to read what the title is. You don’t want your title to disappear into the background because the colors are too similar. Contrast is key when it comes to letters and backgrounds.

Secondly, you want your cover to be different and stand out from the rest. You want a strong contrast from the other books on the shelf, something that is attention-grabbing and pulls buyers in.

Striking imagery

Striking imagery catches buyers’ attention. Think about it, when you’re in a book shop how often are you drawn to a book that has a plain cover with no images or contrast?

Hypnotic imagery

Personally, if I’m just browsing in a book shop looking for something new I’m attracted to the books that have attention-grabbing images, graphics, or text. I look for something that stands out from the others and makes me think “What is that book about?” or “ WOW, the graphics on that book are so exciting I want to see what that’s about!”

Great typography (use of text and fonts)

Interesting typography

In some of the images above, I’ve picked out my favorite covers that make use of great typography. 

When choosing a font for your book cover, rather go for something that is easy to read and doesn’t confuse people too much. Typography is something that could make or break the design. 

Your book font should relate to the genre and/or the topic discussed.

For example, you don’t want to write a horror novel and then have your audience think it’s a romance based on the font and typography of the cover.

Different fonts make people feel different things and trigger different emotions. Use the right fonts to trigger the right emotions.

Nail the genre

Clearly horror genre

Readers are most likely to buy a book and be attracted to book covers based on the genres they enjoy reading, so if your book cover doesn’t match the genre of your book you may risk losing a potential reader.

When thinking about how to design the right cover for your genre, you need to take a look at the other books within the genre as well.

Look and see which are your genre’s best sellers and what their covers look like. You’ll notice that there are definite trends in your book’s genre.

For example, non-fiction covers often have less imagery and strong bold text. Fantasy covers generally either focus on a strong central character or a very atmospheric scene. You’ll also notice different types of font choices for different genres.

Create a cover that is striking, high contrast, and original, while still staying within the main cover trends in your genre.

Does cover art help book sales?

You may be thinking that your cover doesn’t make an impact on your sales, but the truth is, it does.

Research shows that the covers dramatically influence sales:

  1. Reedsy had 4 covers by Indie authors professionally redesigned and tested the results. On average, the professional covers were clicked on 35% more often than the original ones.
  2. Creativindie also did a similar experiment redesigning book covers. They learned that as long as the book pages are already getting some traffic, an improved cover can make a massive difference in sales. Sometimes over 150% increase.
  3. The Creative Penn used split image testing to see what buyers would be more attracted to. They found books with fun and creative covers sold better. Once again proving that a good cover makes an impact.

How to make your own book cover art (and should you)?

When it comes to book cover design, I strongly disagree with making your own.

Excellent design skills take people years to develop (sometimes a lifetime) and, as we have discussed, a well-designed cover makes a huge difference. So, if you care about book sales, this should be left to the professionals.

The only case in which I would suggest doing your own cover is if you happen to also be a skilled designer yourself.

If you’re just experimenting and not aiming at a professional result you can try your hand using DIY cover design tools. For example, Canva has some amazing templates that can guide you to making a great and enticing cover, and it’s free!

I wouldn’t recommend this as a final cover if you’re trying to go big, but it’s a good start and can help you give your ideas in a more complete form to a professional cover designer.

Some designers offer templates for their specific genres that are affordable (much cheaper than hiring a designer) however this could cause your book cover to look very similar to some of the others within your genre.

Where to get book cover art?

Best cover art designers

Here is a list of some of my favorite book cover designers (in no specific order). Some have added a personal note about themselves and their services. Click on each to get more info and the link to contact them.

Book designer offering creative services in book cover and interior book design/typesetting for both independent authors and publishers.

Vanessa Mendozzi

Jakob Vala grew up in the middle of the woods and attended a one-room schoolhouse on an island. He has nearly twenty years of experience and specializes in book cover and interior design. He loves working with footnotes.

Jakob Vala

I design YA, middle grade, and adult books, and have substantial experience working across all genres with a variety of artistic mediums. My end goal is to always ensure each cover package is special and specific to the story inside.

Dana Li

I am an Epic Fantasy artist, and my art centers around “traditional-publishing” styled covers. 

Stefanie Saw

I design fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. I’ve been designing book covers for over 20 years.

Lynn Buckley

As a graphic designer I have tried myself in many areas from logo design to comics and concept art but the illustrated book covers turned out to be the most challenging and satisfying of them all — a good cover sums up nicely everything I love about graphic design and illustration.
My works are all digitally hand drawn (with a wacom tablet) as I prefer to “paint” the lines rather than editing the vector curves.

Levente Szabo

Be It Now! is the motto for my Karrie Ross design and consulting services. I am a one-person graphic design business specializing in book design, book consulting and author website design for self publishing authors and indie book publishers

Karrie Ross

JD&J are a team of book cover designers and artists whose passion for book design show in every cover they create, since starting JD&J in 2013 they have helped thousands of great authors with exceptional designs and customer service alike. Specializing in both book formatting, cover design and marketing materials, JD&J have everything that an author will need for success.

JD&J

With regards my message. I do surreal artworks so the style would be very unique unlike most premade covers and each cover would be base on author’s story.

Baki Boquecosa

Corvid offers both pre-designed covers and custom designs, specializing in genre.  Our lead designer has worked for some of the biggest names in publishing like Tor, Doubleday, Warner Communications.  Unlike many designers for self publishing, we will read your book at no extra charge to make sure our custom designs accurately reflect your content.

Corvid Design

The team at Damonza.com have designed over 7000 book covers, including many New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. That vast experience, no waiting lists (ever!) and a minimum of two different first drafts sets them apart from other book cover designers in the industry.

Damonza

What I love most about designing book covers is how often I inspire authors to see something in their book that they didn’t see before.

Jessica Bell

I’m a book cover designer with over 10 years of experience in designing. My goal is to design a professional, innovative and creative book cover that attracts the attention of potential readers. Let’s face it, we all judge a book by its cover. Color, typeface, images, and layout combine to give us an impression of what a book is about. Your book cover is the first visual impression you can leave on a reader. A good-looking book cover design can mean the difference between a reader picking up your book and buying it or simply just ignoring it

Sanja Gombar

I’ve been doing book covers for 7 years now and I still have the same passion and excitement for designing them like I had when I started out. My style is versatile and I always try to make my book covers eye-catching and bold so that they stand out and make a potential reader pick up the book

Mila

When it’s time to change your book cover art

Why change your book cover?

  • One of the biggest reasons is to keep up to date with the trends and ever-changing world around us. 
  • Another great reason is to attract a new generation of readers to your novels.
  • And, of course, it’s an easy way to increase your book sales.

So when is it time to change your book cover art? Well, there are a few factors you should take into account first. 

Firstly, how long ago did you publish the book? Is it up to date with the current trends of the genre? Does it even fit the genre in the first place? 

Secondly, is it attracting attention? Does it have a strong contrast, striking imagery, great typography, and is it enticing engagement? 

Thirdly, is it making sales? Are people interested enough in the cover to want to pick up the book and buy it? 

If not, maybe it’s time to reconsider your cover art.

Beyond the book cover, building your online presence

A great cover is an essential tool in marketing your book.

Another powerful marketing tool is your author website. Getting a professional author website design will enable you to grow your mailing list and establish your online presence as an author worth reading. Feel free to reach out to us to discuss your website needs.

If you’re looking for examples of other great author websites, be sure to check out our mega author websites guide.

If you already have a great author website but you’re struggling with your author bio, be sure to check out our author bio examples and writing guide.

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