Don’t Look Now, But Your Book is Being Judged By Its Cover. And that includes both the front and back.

There’s an analogy I heard not too long ago that really stuck with me, and it went something like this: Think of your book cover as an introduction. It’s the first thing readers will see when they meet your book, so this is the first impression you’ll give them of your story. Then think of your back cover blurb or book description as the handshake. If it’s weak, clammy, and given with what appears to be insincerity or a lack of confidence, your potential reader may decide to move on to the next book at the party, leaving yours sitting alone in a corner.


Now, I’m not going to get into the front cover nearly as much as it deserves here as I am in no way a book cover artist, and I do not claim to know everything there is to know about creating an awesome book cover. However, I would like to give you just a few general tips that I believe any book cover artist would agree with.

1. Don’t be a Faker. Know your genre and your target audience.

Your cover should reflect the genre of your book. Is it funny? Romantic? A mystery? Horror? Is it light, dark, or somewhere in between? Your front cover should convey the tone of what’s inside. So, don’t lead your reader on.

If they think the book is going to be humorous because that’s the vibe given by the front cover, and then they devote time and money to read it and discover the story is anything but funny, you’ve just invited that reader to post a bad review, and discouraged them from recommending your book to others.

2. Don’t be a Flirt. Less is more.

A crowded or busy front cover typically draws less attention by giving the potential reader too much to focus on. Limit your colors, font styles, and your text. Again, remember less is more. Title, author, subtitle if you have one, and series title if that applies. And make sure your title can easily be read.

This also goes for the picture or image you choose for the front cover. Your potential reader should not be playing Where’s Waldo when they glance at your book cover while perusing the shelves. They shouldn’t have to squint and squirm to figure out “what is that?” Give them one eye-catching pop that pulls their gaze right back to your book and entices them to give it that second look. Also, keep in mind how your front cover will look in thumbnail size online.

3. Don’t Be Out of Fashion. Check out what other books in your genre are wearing.

Browse the bookshelves and, more specifically, those written by authors in your same genre, preferably best-selling, well-known authors. If these are traditionally published books, you’ll know right off that their covers were created by professional cover artists, along with marketers employed by the publishing houses, so you can bet they know and understand the current market. And “current” is key. Don’t go by books published twenty years ago, or even ten. Look at what’s hot today because what’s fashionable in book cover design changes about as quickly as what you’ll see on this year’s red carpet compared to the year before.


The consensus among those in various writing groups where I have been and still am a member is that writing a book blurb is more difficult than writing the book itself. But don’t let that scare you.

While your cover is the first thing readers will see (what attracts their attention), it is then up to the book’s blurb or description (which appears online) to hook the reader by convincing them this book is their next “must-read.”

So, how do you accomplish that in under 200 words?

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the fact is, that’s exactly what readers do a majority of the time. Not 100% percent of the time, I admit, as I’m one who doesn’t even glance at the book blurb or description when buying a book. Ever! And if it’s an author I know and love, all I need to see is that author’s name on the cover. I imagine I’m not altogether unique in this, although certainly among a small minority.

My quirks aside, as I mentioned above, when wandering through the aisles of a library or bookstore (whether online or brick and mortar), it’s the front cover that first attracts a reader’s attention, and second, the book blurb or book description.

Now, I imagine there are no well-known published authors reading this article right now, but writers who would like to be in that category. And that’s why I’ve chosen this subject. To give you a few pointers, a ti