Your First Chance!

Your Book Cover

by S.L.Dwyer

Great! You’ve written a wonderful book. The story flowed onto the pages and your characters have become your best friends. Now what? Write the blurb—ugh, and synopsis. Not the most fun, but necessary. Blame the industry for those hateful necessities.

So we come to the first thing a reader sees when looking for a new book. Your cover. Yup, first with the eyes, then with the words. There are millions of beautiful book covers that your book will fight with for space on the shelves or on the internet.

So what makes a great book cover?

Some will say it’s the color that will catch your eyes first. Others say it is the script or the lack of color. Is it part of a genre color scheme? Should we all use pastels for romance or black and red for horror? Dark blues and bright lights for Sci-Fi or soft primaries for fantasy?

Knowing your genre and the major premise of the story should dictate a starting point. Bright colors will attract your eyes, while dark colors will repel those who are not interested in the genre usually represented by those colors. Choosing colors and script will either cause a reader to pick up your book or pass it by.

Whatever your genre, less is always more. You don’t have to tell the entire story with your cover. One of my books was white with the name of the book in brown as in dirt being stripped away by the wind. I thought it would be great as a stand out cover among so many colorful and busy other books. It didn’t go well with a critique by several industry professionals in publishing houses. What to do with a totally white book cover? I added a faint picture of the head of a smiling dog behind the title. The title and the dog were an intricate part of the story and made the cover more relatable. The lesson I learned is to make sure the cover reflects the actual story and isn’t because you are using genre templates or trying too hard to be different.

Don’t have the cover so busy that you lose the impact a picture provides. Draw your potential reader in because the cover is clean and provoking. Let the cover ask a question or portray intrigue. Let it be calm or scary. Would a picture of a bloody knife or a bloody body intrigue you more? One would take up more space on the cover. Would you feel more romance with a picture of a woman caressing a man’s face or ripped clothing and tangled sheets? Is it romance or a terrible housekeeper?

Ask yourself what are you trying to say with your cover. Think of the mood, the intrigue, the fear or the suspense. Think of the impact your colors, picture, and script will have on a new reader. Draw them into your story, and set the mood before they read the first word. Take the time to choose how you want all those words between the front and back cover to be anticipated.

They say “A pen is mightier than the sword”.

I say “A picture is as mighty as the word”.


Choose wise and happy writing.

S L. Dwyer is the author of 3 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree books!/author/s-l-dwyer/


The comments, advice and opinions expressed here are those of authors whose books have been honored with a B.R.A.G. Medallion. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the owners, management, or employees of indieBRAG, LLC.

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