A book cover is worth a thousand words

Book covers are extremely important aside from the contents that you labored and toiled over for months. If you want people to read your awesome writing, you have to entice them to get it and you do that with the book cover.

Book covers tell your story before the reader even turns one page. There are several elements that are needed in order to compel readers to pick your book over the thousands of others in the competition. Those elements are focusing on the big picture, a clear focal point, book title and subtitle along with your name. Seems fairly simple, but I’ve seen authors leave out important details or choose cover art that is confusing and cluttered.

 Let’s take a look at one that I designed recently. This is actually a new cover for a book already published. As you can see, I am drawing the audience to the focal point on the cover. The dragon head coming at you demands your attention. Next, the title of the book is fixed at the top with the subtitle below. Since this is an anthology or collection in a bundle, I added the titles in smaller font near the bottom. This tells the reader what books are included in this title. Finally, my name, with a slightly larger font than the text above, yet smaller than the title.

The first thing the reader sees is that dragon head. That conveys a clear message that there are dragons within. Dragons are a key part of this work, so it makes sense to display one in all its glory. Next, the title ‘Warlords’ communicates that there are wars and battles inside those pages and the subtitle of ‘Saga’ tells the reader this is a lengthy story. Readers love long reads and there’s a clear picture painted for the prospective reader by telling them what books are included. This one has four volumes; Warlords of Antares, Empress of Antares, Blood Scroll of Antares, and Rise of the Warlords.

Your name as author is just as important as the title. Some authors choose to display their names at the top in a much larger font. This works if you’ve built a successful reader base that is looking for your work. I chose to put my name at the bottom since my main focus is the title and its contents.

There is a familiar term that is widely known and that’s, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Well, that is absolutely false when it comes to choosing your cover. In fact, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Covers are extremely critical in catching the reader’s eye. Pictures are really worth a thousand words. It has to get the reader interested in what’s inside. Once they open the cover and start turning pages, your writing prowess will keep them interested and turning pages.

You can hire a book design artist and spend hundreds of dollars on your cover, but truthfully, if you have a good imagination and a few basic editing skills, you can do it well under a hundred. I use Shutterstock royalty-free images. This means when you purchase an image, it’s yours to build and use. There are a few restrictions, one of which is the limitation of how many downloads if you are buying the standard licensing. However, you can by the extended license, that comes with a commercial usage that covers any media. I typically buy a package of five downloads for under fifty bucks.

Next is using some software to place your text. Again, you can spend hundreds, even thousands, on software. You don’t have to break the bank to design your own. I use two software packages; both are free to use and are called iPhotoDraw and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). Using this free software is extremely versatile. With iPhotoDraw, I can choose any font, size and placement. You can add special effects, such as shadowed text or glowing and radiant. Remember, you don’t want the cover to be too cluttered; keeping is simple is always best. With GIMP, I can manipulate images, and add to or take away elements. I can also change the image resolution, which is very important when printing. I set all my covers to a resolution of four hundred. The industry standard is a resolution of three hundred.

With book covers, if you’re not getting a good response from your readers, it’s okay to change them out once in a while. I’ve done that a few times and I always seem to get a bump in sales. If you’re not getting a lot of action on a book, try changing out the cover.

To recap, it’s very important to choose a book cover that will call the prospective reader to open it up and look inside. Keep the covers simple, yet informative by ensuring your title, subtitle and name are oriented appropriately. Choose an image that will pop and bring attention to a key element in your book. It’s more cost-effective to make your own if you have the skill set. However, you can find reputable book cover designers. If you go that route, take your time and work closely with the designer so they will capture the necessary elements.

Next week, I’m going to talk about the book synopsis and teasers.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

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