Where do you get your book cover ideas?
Most of my book cover ideas begin with picture research. This is important, as few authors – even huge bestsellers – have the budget for a book cover idea photo-shoot. So I use stock images from several excellent libraries that I subscribe to annually. I search for pictures that fit a book cover idea, and this helps fit my imagination to the first round of concepts.
I also follow a few important rules, learned by experience. First and foremost, a book cover idea must match the genre of the book. This is so vital to future sales, and I can’t emphasise it enough. Even the most spectacular book cover idea will fail a book if it doesn’t represent the genre. A reader might pick up a title based on a compelling book cover idea, they might even buy it. But ultimately, if they’re looking for a thriller and get a romance, they’ll be disappointed, and this disappointment will often show up in the form of angry reviews. This will prevent future readers from buying.
On the other hand, a book cover idea shouldn’t try to be too representative of detailed aspect of the content. Trying to portray every physical trait of the hero, or show a particular scene in great detail is the opposite of a good book cover idea. Many authors get mired in the minutia of over-showing their content. They forget the function of a cover – to get the reader to pick up the book, not do the job of the text inside.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking a book cover idea should be too different to other books, either. Of course every cover should be unique, with its own compelling book cover idea. But when readers choose books, they look for titles which are similar to books they’ve read and liked before. This is especially true for new authors. So whilst your book cover idea should be different, it should suggest it’s part of a category.
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