August #AuthorTip: First Impressions Matter

Continuing this post series with a tip for making a great first impression with your book:

They say not to judge a book by its cover. They say it because pretty much everyone judges books by their cover. Your book cover is the first thing people see of your book. If you miss this chance to make a fantastic first impression and grab their interest, they won’t bother finding out more. That means your book cover is actually an important, functional piece of your book, and should be treated as such.

Believe it or not, there are some rules, explicit and unspoken, about what your cover should look like:

  1. DIMENSIONS: Your eBook has a little leeway on dimensions, but will usually be required to be a minimum width/height to be used with stores/distributors. Learn what that minimum is and make sure your cover is large enough to pass scrutiny. Your print cover will need to be sized precisely down to the fraction of an inch for printing. Keep in mind its 3 parts: front cover, spine, and back cover. All three should fit together in a cohesive way and fit snugly around your book so the spine art doesn’t slip out onto the front or back covers and vice versa.
  2. THEME: You may or may not realize it, but different genres have differently themed covers. This serves an additional purpose of letting readers know at a glance what type of book they’re buying. You should research your genre to check out the current trend and make sure your cover art is genre-appropriate. In rare instances, going outside the norm can be a good thing. Mostly, though, it just confuses people.
  3. QUALITY: “Good enough” is never good enough. Having a Canva account does not automatically make you a graphic designer. Making a great cover is part art, part science, and part magic and the industry bar is set high. If you’re making your own cover, don’t just look at it as its own thing. Place it next to a bestseller in the same genre and compare the two side by side, because that’s the book you’re competing against, and the standard you should aim for. If your cover falls short, it’s in your best interest to either redo it or hire a professional.
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