5. Be Unique! (But Not Too Unique)
This one goes back to our discussion on genre.
You want your cover to convey your book’s genre, but you should also push a little bit farther and give those readers a reason to pick your book out of that sea of samey covers. I’ll give a standout cover a click before I dig down into that cheaply-photoshopped one that looks like all the others.
Is that fair? Not really. But one is going to have to go first. I’ll pick the one that looks like the author put the most effort into it, because that gives the impression that the author put as much thought and care into the writing.
So in a vast crowd of books in your genre, you want people to click on yours. How do you do that? First, by creating an eye-catching cover using the principles of Clarity, Visual Impact and Professionalism mentioned before. Those can go a long, long way.
Go to Amazon or Overdrive and scroll through books in your genre. Notice the trends, apply them, and then bend just one of them (maybe two, if you can get away with it). If most of the other paranormal romance books have black covers with red or blue monochrome designs, keep the genre-standard typefaces and the shirtless hottie photograph, but try a black-and-white photo with a brightly-colored title instead.
If other sci-fi books seem to be trending toward dark colors at the moment, make yours white with crisp, high-contrast letters and a central photo of some relevant plot element. (A robotic eye, a circuit board, an alien silhouette, etc). It still says “sci-fi” but will pop out against all the black and deep blue covers.
This “just unique enough” trait is the trickiest one to implement, which is why it’s last. It takes a bit of artistry and creative thinking, but it can really pay off. Play around, then take a step back and make sure you’re still checking box #2. If you’ve wandered too far from genre conventions, tone it back down a bit. Keep tweaking, and you’ll find that Goldilocks “just right”.
Bottom Line: Within your genre conventions, change just one or two small things that make your book cover different from the rest.
So that’s all, folks!
That’s all I’ve got on cover design principles for the week. I hope it helped any aspiring writers, or authors looking to update their cover designs.
If you have any questions, please post in the comments below and I’d be happy to discuss them with you or provide additional clarification!