We like beautiful things, it’s in our very nature.
Book covers do not determine the quality of a novel, but they do determine whether you pick it up from the shelf and read the premise.
Smashwords founder, Mark Coker says it best, “In addition to promising what a book will deliver, the [cover] image also promises (or fails to promise) that the author is a professional, and that the book will honor the reader’s time. ”
So, what makes a good book cover?
I’m no expert, but here are some of my favorite covers and why I gravitated towards them.
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
When I was 7 years old, I was introduced to what would become, one of the most influential books of my life.
What drew me to Harry Potter was the beautiful artwork. I wanted to know who the young wizard was, why he was holding a glowing egg, and who the people in the back were.
Book covers should convey information, they need to appeal to the reader and make them ask enough questions to actually read the book. It would be easy enough to put a picture of Hogwarts on the cover, but adding bits of information draws the reader in.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
According to Rachel Carlyle, research has shown that by age 11, children stop challenging themselves as readers and fall back on more popular titles, meaning classics are being read less and less.
I was in my senior year of high school when I was assigned to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I was lucky enough to find a beautiful copy that conveyed the tone of the novel and pulled readers in. Today, Jane Eyre stands as one of my favorite novels of all time.
Collage Artist, Megan Coyle, writes that color is used to articulate mood and atmosphere, so it is no surprise that this cover appealed to me and continues to be highly sought out. The blue tonality of the cover created an atmosphere that encapsulated darkness and genuinely made me want to read the book.
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Have I mentioned I’m a big fantasy novel fan? I read them whenever I get the chance, and there are plenty of covers that I love.
Rather than simply taking a picture of a model and pasting it onto a book cover, they’ve edited the picture to make the model look ethereal. More so, her profile has a light shadow to it that makes it easier for the reader to envision the character to his/her liking.
The potential reader might also notice the Blackfriar’s Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background, letting him/her know that the story takes place in London. More importantly, the character’s state of dress lets us know it’s Victorian London.
The designer also chose a cool-toned palette with a pop of rose and gold which gives the novel a gloomy but intriguing tone. I can also say, that this cover definitely reflected the quality and had the best-written epilogue I’ve ever read.
I might be overanalyzing covers, but they make a difference. Personally, I try to give every book a chance, but as YouTuber Ariel Bissett said, “As animals (the way that we started), we had to learn to profile, to choose out of a selection of things—which one was better? […] We choose the things that appeal to us.”
I guess it’s just in our nature.