The fact is people DO judge a book by its cover. And I have seen some shady/abysmal ones in my time. I find this a lot with self-published books. Understandably, taking on the project yourself can cost money (mind you, not as much as it used to) but it really does not cost that much to get an experienced freelancer to help create a wow cover that is essentially a selling tool for your book.
Believe me when I say I have had people buy my books just because of the cover (even men buying my women-focused books). Whilst some say it’s my smile that persuades them to part with their cash, I take the stance that having my professional freelancer work on the cover is a huge factor in making the sale.
So before you ask your teenager or best friend to knock you up a cover (PS: I’m not knocking their talent. They may be good but are they up to industry standard?), consider this:
- Who is my audience (age, sex, etc)?
- Will the cover appeal to this market?
- Does the cover idea stand up to what my competitors are doing? (you may need to take a trip to your local bookstore)
- What images (including a photo of yourself) help me depict the message of the book? Will it help me sell my book?
- Will my book cover idea turn people off? (I have seem some covers so far out there, so cluttered, confusing that I simply don’t get the point)
- (Most importantly) Would I be proud to show off my new book with the cover? (If it makes you cringe, it will make others do so too).
My suggestion? Research other titles by well known authors and publishing houses to see what they are doing. Your standards should not be any lower than theirs nor do you have to spend a fortune. Anything less than those standards and you short change your book from the opportunity to sell itself. Also, review samples from different cover designers to get a feel of their style. Does their style work with you?
PS: I have been known to tell my book cover designer that 1) excellence and quality are my values and 2) my book cover should be able to sit comfortably next to Oprah’s or Dr Phil’s.