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What Makes A Good Cover?
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.
Emotional Cover

Consistency is the key – what’s on your cover should indicate what’s inside. Your reader should be able to draw enough emotion from the cover that it will pull them into the story and make them want to know more. 
Honest Friends

Another possibility is showing your cover(s) choice to your personal friends on Facebook and ask them for their opinions. If you belong to an advanced reader group, you might ask them for feedback. DO NOT show it to writer/author groups as you are opening yourself up for possible vile criticism coming from those who suffer from a competition mentality instead of honesty. Just don’t go there. This is your book – share the cover only with those whom you can truly trust. 

Transition to the Reader

Avoid cliches in choosing a cover. For instance, if your book is one about saving money, or investing in the stock market you don’t want a piggy bank or dollar signs or chart arrows on the cover. A professional cover designer can create a cover for you that will talk about what’s inside but not be a boring repetition of what has been around for ages. Trends in covers change so don’t allow yourself to get locked into a passe thought process on choosing the cover. Be open. Don’t be super attached to one idea. We realize the book is your baby but once it’s published it becomes the reader’s baby. 

Be Professional

Even though you are self-publishing you must consider yourself a professional. Be sure your book looks professional. The best way to do that is hiring a professional cover designer to help you make the leap into the literary world where trends change. You want pace setting ideas that will make your book stand out and draw the attention it so deserves. Color, movement, pictures, fonts are all a part of that professional look. Go for it. You won’t be sorry. 

Remember, "We are here to help and we make publishing easy."

About the Authors: Daniel J. Mawhinney & Darlene Shortridge

Dan & Darlene have a passion and a heart for helping independent authors to successfully publish and market their stories worth telling and messages worth sharing.
40 Day Media LLC, PO Box 950794, Oklahoma City, OK 73195
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