The Sum of All Book Covers

Five Things I’ve Learned about Cover Design

The last couple of weeks I have not been doing much writing. Instead, I have been learning about book covers. 

Because book covers sell books.

Image of some of my favourite covers from my own book collection.

I’m planning to update the covers of my travel mystery series to be more appealing to my reader audience. So I’ve done some training. I’ve also analysed the covers of books in the mystery genre and 11+ age range I write for. And here’s what I’ve discovered.

1. What I like doesn’t matter. 

I am not representative of my reader audience. This is the biggest mistake I made the first time around. 

Studying covers in my age range and genre has revealed a key fact. People buying books like mine have a different taste in book covers to me.

2. A good cover fits in. 

This one is a little hard to assimilate. As an author, I want my book to grab readers’ attention. But the way to achieve this is to give my books similar covers to something else my potential readers have enjoyed.

Readers need to know, just from looking at the cover, that this is their sort of book. 

Trying to stand out from the crowd is actually not a great way to sell more books. It turns out similar covers are a safer bet.

3. Symmetrical designs are alluring. 

Apparently, the most attractive faces are highly symmetrical. And my analysis has found the same thing applies to book covers. The covers of popular books often have symmetrical designs.

So the gorgeous illustration that leads the eye somewhere in the distance? It’s actually just leading the reader’s eye to another book.

4. There’s no need for mystery

A good cover must represent the story inside. It should not be mysterious. Even if the story is a mystery. The cover has to lay out what the book is about. 

Readers don’t check the description on the back of the book before looking at the cover. They look at the cover to decide whether to even read the description. And some readers buy a book based on the cover design alone. 

5. Great covers do sell books. 

So what I learned on the training is supported by the evidence. But without enough reviews, retailers won’t even show the book to anyone. So if you’re reading a book that doesn’t have many recent reviews, adding your own will give that cover a chance to work its magic! 

I’ll be sharing some helpful tips on writing book reviews over the coming weeks. Let me know if you have any questions you would like me to answer. Or if you can’t wait, you can read a previous post about writing reviews.

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