Sunday, September 1, 2013

Top 5 Things I Look for in a Book Cover

Photo by Kelsey Kukal-Keeton

I recently had the pleasure of working with Kelsey Kukal-Keeton of K. Keeton Designs and Regina Wamba of MaeIDesign on the cover for my upcoming New Adult contemporary romance, Meant for Her (releasing 10/17/13). The above image is one of the "outtakes" from the shoot, which I thought would be fun to share with you. In the process of considering the design for the cover, I viewed at least a hundred different books on Amazon. It was an eye-opening experience!

As I went along, I realized certain types of covers consistently caught my attention, for both good and bad reasons. I thought mentioning my observations here might help other authors as they make their cover design decisions. Of course, this is simply a matter of my opinion...I'd love to hear yours!

These are the Top 5 things that caught my eye:
  1. Less is more. The covers that had clean, simple designs looked more professional than those with too much going on.
  2. Font choice is key. I was consistently surprised by how difficult it was to read the titles and/or author names on some of the book covers on Amazon. Some fonts were so ornate that the letters were practically unrecognizable. Others were done in colors that blended too much with the background. Authors need to remember that people are looking at a very small image of the book cover when browsing on Amazon, so it needs to be legible at that size.
  3. Covers should reflect the subject matter. There were covers I saw when I searched for "New Adult Romance" that didn't convey the genre at all. I saw pictures of houses, instruments, open fields, and even a running horse. Be sure the cover tells the reader what they're about to dig into.
  4. Great taglines can capture a reader. I've read a number of surveys that indicate readers often ignore the "Bestselling Author" labels on the covers of books when making their purchasing decisions. But more often than not, a good one-sentence tagline captures their interest. One of my recent faves was on Bethany Lopez's New Adult contemporary romance, Indelible, which is about a college baseball player who falls for a single mom. The tagline reads, "She's about to throw him the biggest curve ball of his life." Love it!
  5. Dare to be different...but not too different! Especially in the emerging New Adult genre, covers have a tendency to all look the same. Many of them feature a couple on the verge of kissing, or a half-naked guy with a girl clinging to him in some way. While it's good that these books immediately cry, "New Adult romance," they risk being one of a hundred others that gets overlooked. Consider pops of bold color or a custom photo shoot (which is more affordable than ever these days!) to help your cover stand out.
As I said, these are just my thoughts. What do you think makes a great book cover? I'd love to know!

1 comment:

  1. So true. I hate when covers don't represent the subject matter or genre.