The secret to a book cover that sells

The cover of your book should look attractive… And attract attention… And be distinctive from other books in that genre… And appeal to your target group… And fit your story.

How do you make sure that your cover does all that and also sells well?

Don’t make the same mistake I made (for years!)

When I started publishing my own books, I made a lot of mistakes. The biggest mistake was trying to design a book cover myself. I thought a book cover just had to look nice. There is much more to it though.

I tried to put too much on the cover. I wanted to create something magical, something different. I added images of each step of the process described in the book, symbolism of the title, or a reference to an important detail in the book.

Only people who read the book would understand these things, and I hoped they would be really impressed. It turned out that potential readers weren’t impressed and my books hardly or didn’t sell at all…

It took me a while to discover that my approach was completely wrong. The cover is not intended for people who have already read the book. The main purpose of the cover is to make your book stand out from other books (both online and offline), generate interest from people who are new to it, and sell it.

Tips for a good cover

  • When you search for a book online, on your laptop or smartphone, you don’t see the full cover, just the thumbnail, the mini version of the book. It must be clear at a glance what your book is about, who it is suitable for, and what benefits it offers the reader.
  • Make sure that your cover is visible, readable, and attractive as a thumbnail. There’s not a lot of room for details. Limit yourself to the title, subtitle, author, and one image. It was a game-changer once I figured this out.
  • Take a look at book covers by other authors, within your genre, and in other genres. What do you notice? What works for you? What attracts you less?
  • What do you want to convey to your reader? How can you get the message across? Which images, colors, and fonts work together well?
  • Do you want to highlight a problem on your cover, or the solution, the result that readers can achieve after reading your book?

Ask a professional designer (with book experience!)

It’s great to do some preliminary research and generate some ideas, but I recommend having the final design of your cover done by a professional. Preferably a designer who also has real experience with book covers, because there are technical specifications that you have to take into account. Plus: homemade often looks really homemade. And that’s not what you want to convey to your potential readers, is it?

Have fun designing your cover!

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