Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?

Henry Ward Beecher

This week I’m featured on IndieReader and Huffington Post with my article on book cover design and why it really does matter. Turns out, we do judge a book by its cover, and those first impressions can make or break a sales opportunity.

Yes, We Really Do Judge Books by Their Covers [Excerpt]

Till Human Voices Wake Us
Till Human Voices Wake Us

I wanted the image of a mother and daughter dancing in the sand on a rainy day,” says Patti Davis. “That happened early in the story and at the end — the image formed a visual link in the story and emphasized that it is a love story on many levels.”

Till Human Voices Wake Us
Game for Love
Game for Love

Smashwords founder Mark Coker is continually impressed by the cover designs of the romance authors. “Bella Andre does some of the best covers anywhere,” he says.

Game for Love
Always On My Mind
Always On My Mind

Bella Andre: “I love having complete control over how I present my books to readers and I spend many hours tweaking my covers until I’m satisfied with them.”

Always On My Mind
Harry Potter
Harry Potter

“The right font can have a major impact on brand image,” Picky Girl says. “The Harry Potter font is instantly distinguishable and an example of a font fitting its book well.”

Harry Potter
The Burning of Cherry Hill
The Burning of Cherry Hill

Picky Girl: “The Burning of Cherry Hill by A.K. Butler uses font and composition to its advantage. With a more traditional font or without the ‘torn’ effect, the cover might look dated when instead it’s really lovely.”

The Burning of Cherry Hill
Dead To Me
Dead To Me

“Dead to Me by Bradford Brillowski uses a fantastic font (as well as a unique orientation) along with interesting artwork for a knockout cover,” Picky Girl says. “Though only black and white, the overall composition remains dynamic and interesting.”

Dead To Me
Playing For Keeps
Playing For Keeps

According to Mark Coker, R.L. Mathewson, a romance writer, went from selling five or six copies a day of her novel, Playing for Keeps, to over 1,000 a day simply by updating her cover image.

Playing For Keeps
When All That
When All That

For Naomi Blackburn, a great cover has “an unusual title, good use of color, an unusual design, and an image that contrasts or compliments the color.”

When All That
Dark Summer
Dark Summer

Lizzy Ford, who specializes in YA paranormal, also does great covers, Coker says.

Dark Summer

With self-publishing settling into the mainstream, fierce competition has upped the ante for indie authors. The finest books boast strong, well-written stories. But to rise to the top, to gain traction with readers, even the best book needs a dynamic cover. Recognizing this, savvy indies invest time and energy into creating striking cover designs. As a result, it’s becoming nearly impossible to differentiate between self- and traditionally published books.

“I’m blown away by the great covers on books by indie authors,” says Smashwords founder Mark Coker. “The quality of cover design today is head and shoulders above what it was just a few years ago.”

A book’s cover is the first thing a potential reader sees and it can make a lasting impression. “Our brains are wired to process images faster than words,” Coker explains. “When we see an image, it makes us feel something.” A great cover, he says, can “help the reader instantly recognize that this book is for them.”

If a great design has gut-level emotional appeal and the power to entice readers, a poorly designed cover can be a real turn-off. A book’s description is the “first and foremost concern” of the blogger and book reviewer known as “The Picky Girl.” Still, she thinks twice before accepting or buying a book with a bad (or cheap looking) cover. “I wonder what other areas lack quality and refinement,” she says.

[Read the full post at IndieReader]

Readers’ Gallery

What makes a cover stand out for you? Do you have a favorite cover or one that really stands out? Let me know and I’ll display a readers’ gallery of favorites later in the week!