We all know how the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I’m going to say: scrap that! You most certainly can judge a book by its cover.
In my opinion, the purpose of a book cover is to first and foremost grab our attention. Ask yourself this: if you’re scanning the shelves in your local bookstore, or scrolling through Amazon on your computer, there are thousands of possible books vying for your attention. Which one are you going to pick up or click on? I’ll give you a minute to think about it… I bet you said the one with the snazzy cover, or the one that stood out the most—unless, you knew what you were looking for because someone gave you a recommendation.
For me personally, book covers have a major influence on my buying decisions. I’m a graphic designer so I need things to look pretty. If the cover of a book grabs my attention, is beautifully designed, or uses foil—I’m attracted to shiny objects—then I will definitely pick it up. Then I’ll read the back cover or Amazon description, check out the first few pages or the sample, and probably buy it. The key step is to get your book noticed in the first place.
Covers also need to be genre specific. We need to have our target audience in mind, and also keep up with current trends (to an extent). For example, there’s no point having a beautiful cover depicting a girl in a flowing dress if you write crime fiction. If your book screams YA and is actually an adult thriller, you will have one very annoyed reader.
Another aspect of cover design that needs attention is how the cover will work in several applications. Will it look good as a tiny thumbnail on Amazon and as a printed book? Can the pieces of vital information be seen in the tiny thumbnail? Often, but not always, a different design is needed for the eBook version of a novel. This design should be clutter free and clean. There’s no point having a fantastic tag line, or plug from another author, if potential buyers can’t read it.
As an Indie author, I knew I needed a professional looking cover for my novel. I also had a lot of fun designing my own cover, but I had the skills to do so. My pinch of advice to other Indie authors is: unless you are also a graphic designer, don’t be tempted to do your own cover design. Hire someone who knows what they’re doing, understands images and typography, and is going to give you a cover you’ll love and be proud of.
Because I did make the decision to go Indie, I support other Indie authors in every way I can, and that means purchasing and reading their books. The covers below are some of my favourites not only in design, but in content. In every case the reader would have no indication that these books are actually self-published. They all fall into the YA category, so I’d love for you to check them out.
Shadows of the Realm by Dionne Lister
Dionne is an Australian Indie author. She paid a professional Sydney artist to illustrate the cover of her fantasy novel, and the result is amazing.
Cover artist: Robert Baird
Aurora Sky Vampire Hunter Vol 1: Transfusion by Nikki Jefford
I love all of Nikki’s books, and all her covers are fantastic, but this is my favourite. I love that it’s so different to the normal YA girl on a cover. Aurora is definitely bad-ass!
Cover artist: Najla Qamber Designs
What Kills Me by Wynne Channing
I love this cover! It’s so dynamic, and those butterflies really caught my attention.
Cover artist: Liliana Sanches Davis
ReVamped by Ada Adams
I admit I love pink, but purple comes in at a very close second. The eyes on this cover instantly drew me in.
Cover artist: Olga Barkhatova
K. A. Last is a YA author and has recently self-published her debut novel – Fall For Me – available at Amazon and Smashwords. She drinks lots of tea, is obsessed with Buffy, and loves all things pink. K. A. Last hangs out on Facebook or you can find her on twitter and Goodreads. She’s also been known to blog once in a while.