In the world of publishing, the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” holds absolutely no weight. The reality that all authors face is that vid readers do judge books by their cover. It’s the first thing they see and it will ultimate play the deciding factor in whether or not they even look at the book. It is the Alpha and Omega of the book purchasing process. Let’s take a look at the process that a reader goes through when they are looking to buy a book on Amazon.
- They type in a keyword or browse a category, depending on their individual preference.
- They are presented with a list of book titles and covers to browse through.
- If the title and cover are appealing, then they will click on it. (If the cover sucks, they will never even click)
- They read the description.
- If the description hooks them, then the reader will look inside of the book.
- If they are still compelled, then they will take one more look at the book cover.
- They purchase the book or continue browsing.
Readers are not likely going to buy the book (even if they make it through all of the steps) if the cover does not look professional. There are millions of books for readers to choose from so the cover serves as the first sales pitch, as well as the final sales pitch. Here’s the part that many authors never consider: the cover must look professional as a thumbnail and then at its normal size. This is where many self-published authors drop the ball. They design a cover that looks amazing in its full form but looks horrible as a thumbnail.
A cover is not just a promotional billboard for the book; it serves as the first page of the story. It’s here that you are able to communicate the style and mood of the book. If you see a book with a shadowy cover then you’re going to expect a horror. On the other hand, if you come across a white covers with clouds then it suggests a motivational book. It’s important that your cover conveys the right message since it is your first opportunity to engage the reader.
Book covers create preconceptions about certain aspects of the book. Sometimes it can be risky to put characters or scenes on the cover though since it might not match the reader’s idea. The most popular genres to place characters on the cover is with romance and erotica. In fact, appealing models should be placed on the cover so that it entices readers.
A well-designed cover serves as the first impression that you make on readers. Its job is to assure readers that the book is of the highest quality. A cover will do one of two things: it will either entice a reader to click to read the description or it will scare them away. Bad covers that have horrible pixelated images, watermarks, or badly formatted text are going to have a negative impact.
If a reader does happen to buy (or download) a book with a poorly designed cover, they are reading it in a “critical” mindset rather than one of “entertainment.” In other words, their attention will be drawn to small errors and any other small mistakes with plot, wording, or punctuation.
Cover design is different for markets around the world. For example, in the UK, it’s common to use simple cover designs that focus on the text. In the US, more imagery is used. It all boils down to how each market perceives value for money.
All in all, great covers need to draw the reader’s attention and engage them on an emotional level while also suggesting the overall tone of the book. Quality is essential for every aspect of a book. Never let yourself fall prey to the myth “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Books are always judged by their cover.