I almost called this post – 50 ways to leave your cover, but I didn’t know who’d get that :)
If you’ve been working on publishing a book on Amazon, you know that the cover is one of the most important things you need to get right – YES, people judge a book by its cover. But what is right? What does a professional cover look like? There are so many different types of covers.
First the basics: What are the basic elements?
Size: Per Amazon: Required Image Size: 1563×2500 or 2820 pixels on the shortest side and 4500 pixels on the longest side. (Az support topic )
Title: Is the title easy to read (even on 60×80 thumb), and does it convey the subject or emotion we want our readers to find inside? Oftentimes, being too clever is a bad idea. Be succinct and clear.
Artwork: Does the artwork look clean and professionally done (not clipart-ish)? Is it relevant to the title? Business books often put inspirational art vs art that conveys the mindset of the reader, but also can include things that do not connect to the reader. Be careful. Fiction books need to convey emotion and scenes or personality found inside the book as well – without confusing the reader or being cluttered.
I’ve seen covers that are hard to distinguish what is really there due to bad choice of colors and lack of clear contrast. I’ve also seen covers that had too much going on and looked cluttered, or were not clear what was the main point.
OK, but that is just the start. Now how do we figure out what looks good to our readers, vs what looks good to us? One way to figure out what a good cover looks like, is to check out the best sellers on Amazon. Then check out the best sellers in your genre.
Different genres have a different looks?! Seriously, they do. A thriller cover often has dark themes and something shadowy that evokes an emotion of tension or fear. Yes covers should display the emotions that the book delivers.
Look over at kids and you’ll see that they are colorful, fun, and attractive to the young eye – like the cereal boxes on the lower shelves at the grocery story.
Business books look clean and professional – text based covers with an occasional photo of the important person behind it.
But my genre is cozy. What is a cozy? A mystery that is not gory, based generally in suburban, or small town areas where the main character is often a female who becomes an amateur sleuth. Often she gets caught up in some form of romance as well. What do these covers look like? I think they’re harder than any other cover. Harder to convey to an artist who isn’t familiar and harder to hit the mark for your audience. Take a look at top 100 cozy covers. They are illustrated, but cute – sometimes colorful, showcasing something about the series or story – often the female lead.
Well, I found an artist on elance who had strong covers. Thank goodness she was patient with me! She put up with me trying to explain, ask for something different, add different elements, and swap elements, change colors, try again… and so on.
Here’s a screenshot of a folder with about 50 variations in it. Trust me – there were 50 variations – they all might not be in this shot, but there were a lot. Take a look and tell me what you think? CLICK to ENLARGE.
We went back and forth many times trying to get a feel for different elements – photos, illustrations, coffee shop feeling, not too cluttered or crazy, conveyed emotion. And I tested the covers with people online in Facebook groups to get quick feedback.
It took quite a while, but I eventually selected 2 variations to test. One is about to be launched when the book edit is finally done.
Now for the really hard part – Book 2 is in the writing phase – argh! I don’t want to go thru this again. Hopefully I’ve learned enough lessons to move forward much more quickly.
1 – Cover size: 1563 x 2500 – per amazon’s specs.
2 – Title is clearly readable, even at a thumbnail size 60×88? – this is pretty critical for the ‘Customers Also Bought…’ section.
3 – Layout and elements match your genre and convey emotion or relevance.
4 – Looks professional, not too crazy or cluttered, and instills confidence to the reader.
5 – Easy to identify what the book is about?
6 – Test it with potential readers!