Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Your Book Cover Sells Your Book

I see all kinds of book covers. Authors who are considering doing self-publishing or using outfits like Smashwords will show me their prospective covers and ask the sensitive question, "What do you think?" As a publisher, do you know how hard it is to look at a horrible book cover and then have to gently deliver the words no author wants to hear, "It doesn't work."

Style and taste in art are often in the eyes of the beholder. So when I tell an author with my well-trained eye his/her book cover failed what I'll half-heartedly call the "Michelle-litmus test," he/she often look like I took away their lollypop. It's not easy to share any kind of criticism with authors, but sensitivity over one's book cover runs high. The truth is, I have to tell the truth. And here is why:

  • Your book can help create a bestseller or guarantee a flop -- yes, that is absolutely true. Ask any professional publisher. For example, an author had a terrible book cover and her book wasn't selling. She decided to change the book cover and what happened. From $0 sales to bestseller in a matter of weeks.
  • Your book cover is your first line of attraction -- I know so many authors right now are crying foul. How can this be? My content is king. My story amazing. My characters well-develop interesting beings of imagination. Yet it still all boils down to your book cover. What is the first thing people see when they look on Amazon or in bookstores? Your book cover. 
What should you consider when developing an attractive, eye-popping book cover with your publisher that will make readers want to buy? Here are some important tips.

  • If you're going to use just the book's text to sell the book, make the words "work" the page. Have your graphic designer (and I say please don't try to design your cover yourself?) work the colors and the fonts to their best level of visual communication.
  • If you're going to use artwork, please never ever use the following: bursts, bubbles or tacky shapes. Avoid clipart at all costs. In fact, go by this mantra: clipart is not my friend
  • Go for a theme or message. Your book cover can be like "candy" as is this case of my book covers for California Girl Chronicles. My fun character Brea is wearing a bikini on the cover for book one and for book two since her career shifts out of the bikini shop to her true career goal as a screenwriter, she's dressed more professionally. 
  • Make all of your image provocative, sleek and interesting. In the forthcoming 3L Publishing book Vengeance is Now by Scott D. Roberts, we had the artist take three different images and combine them into a masterpiece of beautiful art (see cover art above). The results: a beautiful piece of art and a fantastic cover.
"Don't try this at home" should always apply to authors who think that the cover is no big deal and try to design it themselves. Whether you're going to work with a professional publisher like 3L Publishing or you're going to use the self-publishing model, you should always invest in your cover. For more information on 3L Publishing and our publishing services, send an email to or call 916-300-8012.

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