Before a reader cares about your protagonist, gets lost in your plot, or races to the last page, first they must open your book.
Articles flood the web with essays on what makes good book covers, which elements must be on the front, and how to break covers into categories. And the same three components are listed as critical selling points: title, author’s name, and image.
But the image, whether it’s a symbol, text, an artistic graphic, a scene or a face, needs to draw the reader not only to the book, but inside. Bottom line – it’s pass, pause, or purchase.
I’ve spent the last few weeks looking at covers as I search for the perfect formula for my own. There are many different categories and ways to categorize the covers, but I have been focusing on two major elements: symbols/settings versus characters/people. (Within those two categories there are more potential breakdowns, but people, this could go on forever.)
Some authors use an icon or a single element that represents an organization, an uprising, a prop, a defining moment or a clue to the story contained within. They may use a snapshot of a setting that will become relevant as the story unfolds. For the reader to understand the meaning and the significance of the cover art, they must read the book. It’s a secret the author shares only once you’ve ventured far enough within the pages.
My opinion? It’s simple elegance. And quite often, brilliant. I love the thought of gaining passage and being included. And when I visualize my future cover, several icons and props come to mind.
Below are examples of enticing symbols/settings on the covers of: Without Bloodshed by Matthew Graybosch, Scrapbook of My Revolution by Amy Lynn Spitzley, Angel’s Edge by Vicki Keire, The Charge by Sharon Bayliss, and Theocracide by James Wymore.
And on the flip side, People/Characters:
The face is a portal and, as humans, we are drawn to them. Putting characters on the cover forces immediate introductions, sends messages wrapped with emotion, and suggests potential relationship tension before the spine is even cracked. Partial views hint there may be more to the character than we anticipate, downward glances can suggest modesty or subjugation, and crossed arms can signal solidarity or defiance.
My opinion? Part of the allure of a character based cover for me is the immediate connection. Do I like this person? Why are they sad or happy? What is going on in their world? I can see one of my main characters on the covers, daring you to come along.
Below are examples of covers with characters that elicit responses based on expressions and poses. Quite Contrary by Richard Roberts, Broken Forest by Eliza Tilton, Fall by A.K. Morgen, Kiya, Hope of the Pharaoh by Katie Hamstead and Five by Holli Anderson.
So, is there a right or wrong choice? No, not at all, which why this journey is so difficult. We respond to different cues based on our individual personalities and experiences. I love the mystery and secret wrapped in a symbol and the intimacy offered in a face. I’m torn as to what will go on my cover, but whatever I choose, I must draw the reader inside.
What do you look for on a cover?
All the books listed above are published by Curiosity Quills and are available in digital versions at a special price of $0.99 through December 3rd. Find them here http://curiosityquills.com/cyber-monday-blowout/ and enjoy!
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao-tzu
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. – Plato
Below are a few blogs I found helpful and interesting as I researched the perfect cover!