Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?


Written by Frankie Cameron

How important is a book cover for selling a book? Do you buy a book because of its cover, the author’s name, or the blurb on the back of the book?

The answer is that if your cover is not attractive; it doesn’t matter how good your writing is, people won’t buy it. That is especially true for independent authors. How many times have you heard the old phrase don’t judge a book by its cover, but the reality is that we all do.

Distributors, dealers, bookstores and finally the readers judged your book by its cover. Traditional authors may sell a book by using their name, but most independent authors don’t have that luxury. You could have the best blurb ever on the back of your book, but no one will read it if the cover is ugly.

Creating a Design

With so many people publishing on Amazon KDP, it is important to create an original design that blends with the subject of the book. For example, if you are writing a book about stress relief, you wouldn’t want a cover that is too busy or colourful.

You also need to consider your genre and what kinds of covers appeal to your audience. Every genre has its own requirements.

What Should a Book Cover Include?

Every book cover also needs these things:
1. Striking Imagery
2. Title
3. Subtitle
4. Author Name

Most well-known authors have their name bigger than the title, while most independent authors have the title bigger than their name.

Where Can You Get Good Book Covers

If you are not a graphic designer, there are many many places where you can get a book cover.

  • Amazon KDP (free cover generator)
  • Poster My Wall (free cover generator)
  • Canva (free and paid cover generator)
  • My eCover Maker (paid cover generator)
  • Book Brush (paid cover generator)
  • Adobe Spark (free and paid cover generator)

You can also hire a designer on marketplaces such as Upwork or Fiverr. Just make sure to get commercial rights.

Researching Your Genre

Before I published my book, I researched a lot of the best-selling Dystopian book covers. Here is a list of books I researched. The bolded ones have been turned into either books or movies.

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • The 100 by Kass Morgan
  • Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  • Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  • Influence by David R Bernstein
  • Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • Hush by Dylan Farrow
  • The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Skyhunter by Marie Lu
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
Dystopian Book Covers

Which books draw your interest? The colours in Skyhunter and Beautiful Creatures really draw the eye as well as the big symbols in Divergent, Darkest Minds and Hunger Games. There is also something about Shatter Me that pulls me to it.

The 5th Wave, The Maze Runner and Article 5 show a world that differs from our own but is still similar. The cover of Mortal Engines makes me wonder why her face is covered. What is she hiding?

The word hush really draws your eye framed between the white. It looks like frost scrapped on a windshield, revealing a world behind it. I admit I got my idea for the ice on Hollow Edge from this image.

Early Versions of Hollow Edge

Before I decided on the final cover for Hollow Edge, it went through a bunch of revisions. My writing group was so helpful with critiquing and giving me expert advice.

I made these covers myself in Canva when the title was originally Underground. They show my design skills off perfectly (I have none).

Dystopian Book Covers

These slides show the progression of the mockups from the designer. You can see why you need to have your covers professionally designed.

You can see that the final version incorporates some elements from the various book covers. I loved the graffiti on the tunnel walls and a member of my writing group suggested adding the portal to the tunnel.

Final Thoughts

You can see now why having an excellent cover is the one of the most important things in book marketing. How do you choose your books? Let me know in the comments.


Until next time



Feature image by Michael Gaida from Pixabay.

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