Thoughts on your book cover

(Or your logo, your house, your tie, your business card, your website…)

Like a suit or a skirt, it needs to fit. You’re going to be looking at it for a long time.

And you’re certainly going to look at it more than any other human will, so if it’s not perfect, don’t sweat it, that’s mostly a personal challenge.

The book cover should work at any size, because most people will see it before they buy it, and they will see it online, at just a one inch square size.

The book cover should not only reflect the genre it’s in, it should send a powerful signal within that genre.

One signal might be: It fits! I get the joke! This is what works, for example, in romance novels. If you’re looking for a book like this, this is a book like that.

Another signal might be: I know what sophisticated books look like, but this one is deliberately not that. It’s for people who don’t buy a lot of books. Something like The One Minute Manager belongs here.

And a third signal, my favorite, is: I know what the genre looks like, AND this book is in that genre, BUT, this book is a bestseller and so it is stretching the boundaries in a way that only an important new book can.

It’s worth noting that your cover will almost certainly NOT sell even one copy of the book, but it can certainly unsell someone who might have considered your cover. So there’s not a lot of room for risky, daring maneuvers. You don’t need them.

When in doubt, check out this gallery of movie posters

A lot of people spent a lot of time arguing at the meeting, but it doesn’t change how people engage with the movie. Unless you go too far away from the genre.