If readers like the cover, they read the blurb on the back/inside cover to see if their first instincts were right. It’s human nature and there’s not a whole lot we, as writers, can do about it. Or is there?
The hardest part, I think, of writing is finding a cover that fits your idea of the contents of the book. It’s possible to lend the book to an artist and let them decide what your cover will look like, but if some of the covers I’ve seen are anything to go by, the artist may not see your book the same way you do. On the plus side, with a professional artist, you’ll get a book cover that sells. It just might look like a myriad of other books.
But I’m not a designer or artist! How will I know what is good and what isn’t? First off, if you’d buy a book with that cover, then odds are, someone else will feel the same way.
The average artist/graphic designer will cost you. That’s not a problem – if you have the money. If you don’t have it, then a piece of blank paper works wonders. When I was first designing the cover of “Der Reizen”, I wrote down all the things that I thought were important incidents in the book. Then I went online and, with the help of Google, found pixabay.com. I typed in the keyword I’d chosen – Bavaria. That brought up quite a few images, but nothing that seriously struck my fancy. I added a second keyword, landscape, and there, much to my astonishment, was the perfect image of light coming through two trees. It was the Gate of my story! Talk about serendipity.
I emailed the photographer and asked her permission to use the image. Even though Pixabay images are free to use commercially, I thought it polite to ask permission, which was granted. If your story takes place locally, you’ve got the advantage of being able to take your own photos and use them. If you’re going to use someone else’s photos, then you must get written permission to use the image. If nothing else, it’s the polite thing to do, but it could save you thousands of dollars in legal fees if the photographer doesn’t want their picture associated with your book. The same goes for graphic images and specialty fonts. If you don’t own the copyright to the image or specialty font, get permission. I can’t stress that enough.
So you don’t have an artist and none of the images you’ve found work. You’re going to create your own cover using Photoshop, Gimp or whatever image manipulation program you have to hand. That’s okay. You don’t need to get complicated with your design. I’ve seen beautiful covers that aren’t much more than a red stripe two-thirds of the way down a white page and the title in black in the stripe.
You’ve written down the keywords and ideas that are important to your story. What images come to mind when you think of your keywords and ideas? What colors come to mind when you think of your keywords and ideas? Play around with several ideas, each on a separate ‘page’ in your image program. There are two “rules” that cover design needs to follow – KISS (keep it simple, silly) and let the kids help. Their imaginations haven’t been forced out of them yet. They’ll be an excellent resource for cover opinions and what might appeal to someone of any age.
Very few people can create the ‘perfect’ cover the first time around, so don’t be discouraged. It’ll take a bit of time and trial and error, but I’m sure you’ll find the right combination of images and/or colors that work for your story.
It’s as easy—and as hard—as that.