Almost everyone has heard the adage about not judging a book by its cover, but that advice ignores exactly what a book cover is intended to do. Book covers draw attention to the book and give readers an idea of what is inside. If the cover of a book is wrong, it may draw the wrong audience.
Writers may think that any book sale is a good sale, and even if the book doesn’t match the reader’s taste, their exemplary writing skills will win the reader over. Rarely are they right. More often, selling books to the wrong readers eliminates series read-through, results in poor reviews on sales pages, and keeps books out of the hands of readers who will truly enjoy the book and recommend it to others.
How does a self-publishing author make sure their cover attracts the right readers? An excellent place to start is by avoiding these three cover mistakes.
1. The Cover Doesn’t Match the Genre and Sub-genre
A reader should be able to tell what genre a book is simply by looking at the cover. All genres and sub-genres offer a sort of shorthand that indicates to readers what sort of book is inside. This shorthand can change with the times, and self-publishing authors should research to keep up to date on the latest trends in their genre. This is especially important in a nuanced genre such as mystery.
2. The Colors Don’t Match the Tone
Colors are an at-a-glance indicator to the reader of what the tone of the book will be. Lighter cover colors such as pinks and yellows or books with pastel-colored covers often indicate a book that will be lighthearted. The book may have some serious scenes, but most of it will be light in tone, with comedy and/or romance at the center.
Dark colors typically indicate a book that will be suspenseful, mysterious, or dangerous.
If a reader buys a book with a pretty pastel painting of a landscape on the front, they will not be expecting horrors and murders within the book. Therefore, authors need to be sure the colors on their cover give readers the right impression of the themes and tones held within the pages.
3. Gratuitous Images
Book covers should tell readers about the book’s content, but covers with gratuitous images can go too far and turn off potential readers. A horror book with a dark cover and ominous images will gain new readers better than a gory cover where the monster within the book is wreaking violent havoc.
Similarly, images with extremely sensual cover images may turn off potential readers even if those readers don’t mind descriptions of such content on the pages of their book.
In addition to turning off potential readers, covers containing gratuitous violence or sensual images will have limited opportunities for marketing. Many ad sites will refuse to sell ads for books with covers that might be offensive to a large segment of readers.
When it comes to covers, less is more. Suggestions of sensuality or violence are more effective for covers than detailed images. No matter how extreme the book’s content, the cover should be fit to sit on public bookshelves in a bookstore.
Selecting the right cover for a book is one of the most critical decisions that self-publishing authors make. The first impression readers get of a book is the cover. A good cover will cause the potential reader to pick up the book and read the description or skim through the book’s first page. An unappealing cover will cause a book to sit unread on a shelf even if the book’s content is compelling.
InstantPublisher has all the tools writers need to self-publish their books. This includes cover art templates and options to purchase custom cover art. Call us today at 1800 259 2592 to learn more about the wide range of exceptional services InstantPublisher offers.