Sexy designer covers

Did I capture your attention from the title of this post? I hope so… because it’s a simple example of how you title your work that captures the attention of your readers.

Never judge a book by its cover…

Whoever said that quote obviously had a cover that either didn’t capture their readers attention, or it wasn’t even comparable to the quality of work written within its pages.

Everyone around me seems to be designing or redesigning their covers of their novels at the moment, and I thought that since I have a design background – I would have a wee chat about this process.

Whether you are designing a cover, marketing, or even self-promoting. You are selling something, and it needs to be targeted at your audience.  David Carson is one of the worlds most renowned graphic designers. In an interview, he said something that all of us need to remember during this design process… “You have a general direction of where you think you’re going, but you also have to be able to do things the way that maybe you weren’t expecting.”

This is about having an open mind. This is about being analytical and critical. This is also about looking at the covers you are creating with a completely objective view as to what your target audience would be drawn to, and what they would pick up and buy.

After all… It’s about making money. That is usually the main objective of publishing a book. (Other than the glory of seeing your name and work in gorgeous black font against crisp white pages, for all the world to read.)

But back to this ‘making money’ notion… the publishing world is a selling game. It’s about the numbers, it’s about the audience, it’s about the stories, it’s about the rave reviews, and it’s about readership and potential future readership. You need all of these main things to ‘make it big’ in a relatively small publishing world. There are millions of writers out there. There are hundreds of millions of books. And on top of that – there are even more manuscripts that are either drafted, or in the making. And writers all around the world are playing the ‘publishing game’. They all want a slice of the publishing pie, whether it is ‘self publishing, or traditional publishing’.

So why on earth would you put together a crap cover with a crap title, that is not targeted at your main audience, and still believe that people don’t judge books by their covers? The cover may have everything to do with the book you have written… or it may not. E.g. I don’t ever remember a vampire holding an apple within the pages of Twilight… but it was a catchy cover, and readers around the world thought so too.

I said to a friend yesterday… ‘You don’t want your main title to drown out your main imaging. You want them to blend and compliment each other.’ Within the same day, I said to another friend, ‘The blurb and cover art should make enough of a statement – so you don’t really need to be theme all your fonts as well.’

What I mean with both these statements, is this: Dare to be different, but make sure it works. You have this huge idea in your head of how it should look, but you seriously need to ask whether or not it’s readable, eye catching and sexy, and whether or not it works with the rest of the cover. Most of all… you need to ask whether or not the fonts and titles will appeal to your target audience.

So… on that note – let’s have a look at some pretty amazing covers that seriously work with the story, as well as with the target audiences.

AIREL: Wow. I know. That’s one amazing cover. Yes, it does look similar to other covers in its field – like Fallen by Kate Lauren. But in reality, it is so much more beautiful and eye capturing. The covergirl has darkness, and light. It is formidable because she is kneeling in a darkened forest. And yet she is holding a white feather, usually known as a symbol of hope and life (the white dove feather). Some people may believe that this book cover is riding on the coat tails of Fallen, but in reality, this is what we all do. We are influenced by the success before us, and by mimicing it at the ‘right’ time, we will also succeed and capture the same target audiences. (This is yet another marketing strategy to look out for – if you can pull it off, it can work well!)

MATCHED: Gorgeous, simple, vibrant. What eye wouldn’t be drawn to a girl in a brilliant green dress, held within an orb? I cannot tell you exactly how appropriate this is to the opening pages of this book – but it’s incredibly accurate to how the main character is, in every possible way. Innocence, trapped within a bubble.  A simple design, yet effective. This cover forces the reader to read the blurb on the back cover to discover what is contained within the pages. A friend told me that she liked the cover of Matched because the colours are quite different from other YA novels, and therefore it stands out. I tend to agree with her sharp observation. I guess that the same could be said about the second book in the series – CROSSED

WITHER: I am going to admit, that when it comes to this particular cover design, I don’t know what it is about it that I love. Perhaps it’s the combination of complete randomness that captures my attention. Regardless of what it is, it is visually stimulating, and is also a playground for the curious mind.

There is a fabulous collection of book designs that are rated highly in terms of excellent design from 2011, which can be found at Hensher Creative. Well worth a look, especially for new and innovative ideas.

Dare to be different. Think outside the box.



Leave a Comment

  1. I love graphic design and there is no doubt that a nicely designed cover will draw me in to a book. Guess I probably miss out on a lot of good material but can’t help myself haha


    1. Glad you enjoyed the post!
      Yes, the cover is very hard. Its hard because its part of marketing not only your book, but yourself as a writer as well. Much like building an Authors Platform on the internet. It’s how the world sees your work.


  2. Awesome post! I count myself lucky to pick your brain – happy to have the knock over the head if I saunter off in the wrong direction too! So remember, please knock away… xx Tee


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