Well, apart from writing a great story, of course.
It's like when you are buying a house. CURB appeal is SO important. While it may not be the reason a buyer purchases the home, it's responsible for getting them in the door.
The same with a book.
When you're browsing, the first thing you'll notice is a cover.
Is it ugly as sin? Does it look like someone did it who took one class in graphic design 30 years ago? Are there ten fonts, miss-matching colors, unpleasing graphics? Or is it just plain boring?
Most people's eyes will march on, although maybe get a second glance if it is THAT bad. Most of us don't want our cover to be noticed for its awfulness :-)
Is the cover appealing? Does it catch your eye and make you think, "Oh! I wonder what that's about!" Does it fit your favorite genre and just capture your fancy?
Then you might snag it up, turn it over, and scan the back cover. Maybe even read the first page or chapter, or look at reviews.
While any of those other things might cause you to put it back, getting that reader to pick up (or click on) your book in the first place is super important!
If you plan to Indie-publish... this is SUPER important for you to think about now, at least to gather thoughts on what kind of covers would appeal to your audience.
If you plan only to traditional publish, it still isn't a bad idea. Publishers do ask for input and thoughts (not always...) but to have a ready (and educated) answer will give you a chance to sound informed and a better shot at being a ready voice in the process.
Now, I don't claim to be an expert on how to make a great book cover.
But when I was going through the process with my newest novella I'm putting out myself, one of the things I did was browse covers to see what my personal likes and dislikes were. I then sent my cover designer a handful of covers I thought were GREAT, and a handful of "you-better-not-design-me-something-like-this" covers.
Since it'd be horribly mean to point out the latter (and we are all about encouragement here on the alley) I thought I'd share some of the covers I found that were GREAT... and why I thought they were great.
Keep in mind: I stayed within my genre. Comparing a sci-fi cover to a rom-com is just silly, because they are going to be so different in feel.
And these are only a few that I sent him, because... I found a lot!!!
Keep in mind also: The idea of researching covers isn't to copy someone else's idea. That'd would be super bad. Instead, it's to get an idea of concepts. Do you like covers with faces, or not-so-much? How did they use color to enhance? What kind of fonts appeal to your eye verses distract? That kind of stuff...
And without further adu... here are some of my favs!
Oh I LOVE all of Becky's covers! I love the smile and the "realness" of this, and it's just plain fun.
I couldn't help it ... I was only going to do one per author, but the girl has PINK SHOES you guys!!!! I think I would have bought this book just for that reason only, but I already knew I was a Becky Wade fan by then....
I like this a.) because any cover with a wedding dress intrigues me and b.) she looks like she's running, and it makes me want to figure out why she's running and c.) the wedding ring hanging off the you was pretty cool!
I've noticed that having text over a picture like this, without a little box, is difficult to do (and still make it look good). Bot I LOVED that they were able to do that here, and I LOVE the feeling of fall... and the characters just make me want to find out their story! And I LOVE the colors of this!!!!
Um... yes, this was awesome. We've got a kiss, a fancy dress that I love, and some of my favorite flowers, AND it is pink. Even if I didn't know Janice was an amazing author, I'd pick this up just to see what it was about!
Now this one was a bit different, and that's why I picked it. It isn't girly, and Karen rights very much for women. But... I still like it. The bright lights.... it would make me want to read the back cover, even if I didn't know that Karen was a super star writer:-) I also liked how they made the font be bright like lights for the title... very cool!
And last but not least.... after perusing the cover choices that I liked, my cousin and I finished designing MY first indi-pubished novel, and this is what we came up with.
Given the covers I liked most, I knew I wanted to have PEOPLE on my cover, and preferably faces. I know not all authors/readers like it, but a lot do. My original idea was to show the "sides" of their faces as a nod toward the title.
I perused stock photo sites like mad. SHE was super easy to fine. Oh my goodness, is she not gorgeous?!? her pink lips and pink tank-top sealed the deal as to what color font I'd be using, and since I'm a fan of pink, it worked!
My hero? Eh, not so much. Cameron is a red-headed tall guy, a little on the lean side, who is very handsome. Can I tell you how HARD it is to find handsome redheaded stock male photos (that don't cost like $1,000....)? But when I ran across this brown-headed guy who had that amazing look in his eye as he checks her out... which is TOTALLY Cameron, I sent it to my cousin and he said he could make his hair red. I'll be honest, it's not exactly how I pictured him, but it's close.
I do like having my name in all-caps print... it was that way on my first novel and I wanted to continue with that look, with my name at the bottom. My cousin came up with the fun way to display the title of the name, and yeah, I'm pleased. I was a LITTLE nervous about the white background... but I'm a fan of simple covers and I thought a background would be distracting.
That might be more than you wanted to know about my crazy thought process....
But now it's YOUR turn!!
What covers in your genre have you seen lately that you love? What kind of covers appeal to you?