The Beauty, Necessity & Strategy of the Perfect Cover

By Emma Michaels (Edited by Amy Lignor)

We’d all like to believe the old saying: You don’t judge a book by its cover. But when it comes to the literary world that standard is non-existent.

In reality, the very first thing we notice about a book is the cover. It is what sparks our imagination, or draws us into a realm that our minds want to dig deeper into by opening the cover and discovering what magic lay inside.

If a devoted reader, or even a library and bookstore browser, you begin with a genre. If you are lucky your treasure is one that is featured cover-forward; otherwise, you just have spines to stare at and, hopefully, great titles to work with.

As a writer, when you think about your cover you need to think about that very-important fact. Not to mention, the digital world where it will always be presented face-forward to interested readers. So the question is: With your finished project, will the cover be something that would catch your attention as a reader in a line-up of many?

Every author has a ‘dream’ cover in mind, whether they think about it constantly during the writing of the pages, or have an idea nestled in the darkest recesses of their mind. If you are with a larger publisher you will likely have no say in what the final cover presentation will be. With a smaller/boutique publisher (similar to Hallowed Ink Press), this process can go one of two ways. With many, the author has a chance to weigh-in; which is a ‘must’ because of the fact that the author has worked so diligently to place their ideas on paper that they should certainly be able to work with their publisher on creating the ‘wrapping’ that will go around their incredible ‘gift’ to the literary community.

Many publishers consult the author and give them a say, while others choose not to. However, the author must always understand that there is a reason for professionals in all aspects of the publishing industry. Just because a person is an amazing wordsmith doesn’t necessarily mean they have an eye for marketing, and every art draft that goes into consideration adds to the final cost involved in producing the book.

Then, you come to the self publishing option. A self published author has all the say in cover design, which can be a negative or a huge positive depending on the person and the choices they make when bringing their vision to life.

The most noticeable quality of a book is just that…the quality. This does not mean printing on the most expensive paper, or hiring the most exclusive and pricey artist on the market to get the job done. Quality is what must play a factor in all areas of writing and publishing; from the finest editing to the best formatting, and stunning visuals that will kill your competition. Add to all this quality writing, of course, and you have a very marketable product.

Cover art is the representation of the dreams inside. Whether your cover features a hippo on a pogo stick or a young girl shivering in the evil shadows of a dense forest, the most important factor to consider is that the art truly fits the story. If so, it becomes the best association between image and the feelings the story strives to produce.

Some points to remember: You want clear and easy-to-read fonts, but not your normal Serif or Times New Roman; and it is almost always best to have the title be the largest text on the cover. Your title is your selling point. If an author is well-known, their name will be enough; but a debut author should always have the title big and bold so that the image stays in the mind, leading all readers to Google that title and become the first of millions of future fans.

This is a strategic industry. There are many tips and tricks to learn in order to create success. Bottom line…you want a marketable cover that feels right to a reader. This is a huge aspect of your novel that adds another great tool to your arsenal and attracts the attention of your potential market!

Cover Artist Resource List:!custom/cee5!/NovelIdeaDesigns?notif_t=fbpage_fan_invite!