Do we judge a book by the cover?


Me and my long-suffering designer examine images for my book cover:

Me– yep, yep, yep, nup, yep

Designer: Choose one book cover image! Stop saying yep.

Me– y..,mmm, ooh yes,

Designer: Your book isn’t about puppies or firemen.

Me– It isn’t? Okay, nup, nup,

Designer: You’re not even looking at the book cover images!

Me– My eyes are frozen. I can’t feel my eyes!

Designer: Oh this isn’t working.

Me- Sorry, Yep

Designer: You like it?

Me– Yep. I love it. No seriously, this is the one.

Designer: You can stop looking now.

Me– My eyes are flickering, don’t leave me here! I can’t find my way out.

Designer: I’m not playing. I’m going.

Clearly there was a lot more to sourcing a book cover than this.



For your book cover, free photo websites used to be an excellent source but now there are challenges with copyright. My designer had her own stock of professional photos expressly for book cover images. I also drew pictures and took my own photos in order to flesh out an overall idea of what I wanted. I even took photos of my friends! Whilst this was our journey, it might offer you some ideas of where to begin.

One of the best places for ideas are bookstores, both virtual and real. From here you can take photos of the front covers of books in your genre. Pay attention to the format of successful book covers.

Image Tone and Size:

What do you want your book to say? The tone of your book should be reflected in the kind of image you use on the front cover. Notice crime books have a lot of black, white, grey, blue and red on their book covers. That might be obvious to some, but these cool and emotional colours resonate with their readers.

Warm books about friendships and relationships may have an image like this: people baking, a country street, people’s legs-clearly at a café, a cheerful home, a woman walking, flowers, you get the idea.

Slightly more serious fiction can feature: a tree – just looking at a bunch with one tree right now, art based work, ambiguous photos or illustrations, landscapes, surreal imagery, big bold prints with strong colours or an image in the font.

Commercial fiction has it’s own mixed set of imagery and we found that the trick is to be different but remain clear about the genre.

One point about your image is that it shouldn’t be too complicated because of the next point.

Yes, size is important! We’re in the digital age and it’s all about how your image and font stacks up on a thumbprint size. Make sure you examine it like this to see whether you can see your name, your title and a decent capture of your image.


Once again, examine widely the type of fonts used in the front covers of books in your genre. There’s a trend of having the author’s name in very large print, sometimes larger than the title, and this is about branding. It’s also due to the fact that the images are going to be thumb sized on the internet and on ebook sites.

Most importantly, have fun and try out a bunch of ideas till you find one that gives you that all important, ‘ahh yes’ moment for your own book cover.


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