It is often said that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Whilst that may once have been true, it certainly isn’t today. As of July 2017, Amazon lists 60,000,000 different books and that number is increasing by around a 100,000 a month. Online bookstores are the key to a book’s success but only if the potential purchaser can find it! To put those numbers into context, if you only glanced at a book cover for one second, never ate, never slept, it would take two years to look at all those covers. Now pick the one you like the look of.
When the choice is so vast and books are presented as page after page of tiny thumbnail images, the cover has a very specific job to do. It needs to stop the reader at your book on that page and impel them to click on it to find out more. That’s it. Nothing else.
Your cover is not there to win an award for artistic brilliance or to accurately depict your favourite scene in the book. It is simply there to create the start of the sales process.
A good cover needs to entice, create an element of curiosity and to portray the message of the book. This is a rare skill and exactly why good cover designers are some of the best paid creative artists in the world. Yes, one can go to a free cover design website and pick up some clipart but although the result may look pleasing, will it be good enough when viewed as a thumbnail to generate that click through?