Judging a book by its cover? As an author, I should probably know better. But I do it all the time. Whether I’m browsing Amazon Kindle for a book or Netflix for a movie, I often times don’t even read the title below it. I just look at the picture. Is it intriguing? Is it action packed? Will it hold my attention?

The truth is, every one of us is looking for something different when it comes to entertainment. While observing current trends in cover design has its place, it’s important to note that current success does not necessarily indicate future success and popular trends seem to change almost as soon as they are grasped. For this reason I’ve written four aspects that I believe to be important when it comes to cover design:

  1. It must be personal. Your cover is a representative of you and your hard work. Generic cover designers might offer fast, off-the-shelf solutions for your novel but they are impersonal and don’t capture YOU within your story.
  2. It should tell the story. A picture is worth a thousand words. The cover should capture the very essence of the story you are trying to tell or the obstacle your character is trying to overcome. It should convey emotion – desolation, fear, hope, folly, comedy. All of these leap off a good cover and capture the audience you are targeting for your novel.
  3. It should be unique. Trends are important, but the cover that is bold enough to stand out will attract more attention than the one who joined the herd. When designing a cover, you don’t want to be white noise; you should be screaming to the foreground.
  4. Branding. Your cover, your website, your blog, all of it should be branded with similar color schemes, images, and themes. Anytime anyone sees one of those items, you want them to make the mental connection to another aspect of the world you are building around your story.

What do you think? Based on your experience, what makes a book cover worth reading?

Written by Thane Keller

Thane is a native of Northern Virginia that has been traveling the world with his wife and four children. Thane researches and writes about technology, innovation, leadership, decision-making, and organizational change.



These are great points! I also like a cover that has a sense of mystery to it. I like to get a good grasp of what it’s about but still have that gap in my understanding that makes me want to pick it up.

Thane Keller

Thanks Aubrey! You are right – a cover that nails a sense of mystery is an instant hit with me too! With that one picture, you want the person to be pulled into your story! Thank you for your comment!

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[…] there is a practical use as well. First, branding. I mention branding in an earlier post about cover design and I think it is just as important here. For my novel Trials, you’ll notice the featured […]

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