Hook of the Book
Before we can discuss what makes a good cover, we need to come to an understanding of what purpose the cover serves. It isn’t just the front and back of a book that guards what’s inside, it is an invitation to come inside, sit a while and read a story. A good cover is your one chance to capture your reader’s attention. It is the hook that pulls your reader in.
If you have ever strolled through a bookstore looking at covers you may have thoughts on what makes a good or bad cover. Most likely, you have felt the drawing-in of certain covers that have reached out and caused you to buy the book. If you haven’t checked out bookstores for what is trending, then we strongly suggest you do.
Value of the Cover
Deciding about a book cover is one of the most important things you will do after finishing your manuscript. Since the first impression a reader gets is made with the eyes, you will want to have a professional book cover done. Don’t think you can’t afford it – you can’t afford not to do it. A good cover, done by a professional, can run you anywhere from $30 to $1,000, depending on whether you are using stock or original artwork. It is important that you look at it as an investment in your book as well as your future as an author.
The Reader's Cover
Give your designer some freedom in making the choice for your cover. Talk to him/her about your manuscript and how you see it but don’t insist they design the cover you have in mind. Give them artistic license to create a cover for you that will provide the hook which will cause your reader to pick the book up, look at the cover – front and back – and decide to carry it to the checkout stand or to put it down and walk away. Trust your designer, remembering this is their area of expertise. A good designer will usually give you a choice between a couple of covers. Remember, it isn’t about you, it is about your reader.
The front cover should give a general idea what the story on the inside is. For instance, if your story is a romance novel, you don’t want a bloody dagger dripping all over the front cover. If it is a murder mystery, maybe you do want a bloody dagger or a smoking gun or something that provides a clue to the story line.