The Ribbon Marker’s Guide to Effective Reader Entrapment
How to successfully get me, and many other readers out there, to buy your book.
3. The Cover
Covers are crucial in helping authors to sell/pitch their story to prospective readers. They allow readers to use a quick glance to make a decision on whether they are interested in purchasing your book, or in spending a little more time investigating whether or not your book is truly for them (e.g. read the blurb, read reviews, go to your website/blog, ask other people etc.). Book covers are meant to attract people who haven’t necessarily heard about your books (or you) but are just browsing for their next read at the bookstore or online, and to give them a visual taste of the book before they even know what the book is about.
One thing I’ve learned from going to the RT BookLover’s Convention this year, is that many readers are first and foremost attracted to a book’s cover. I’m not much of a “Cover Lover” myself, but I do agree that the attractiveness of a book’s cover can make me pause when scrolling through Amazon’s “recommend for you” list.
For me, the cover should: be a snapshot of the crux or main concept of your book, therefore the image should communicate the genre and premise of your book; evoke some emotion out of the people who see it, such that the overall feel of the story is well communicated; and be interesting in some defining way.
For example, here are the covers from Mary Calmes’ Change of Heart series (I adore Jin and Logan).
What I love about these covers is that they fit my requirements for an amazing but communicative cover.
They each practically scream what each book is about. In the Change of Heart cover, we can clearly see that this book is mostly about the beginning lust of a new relationship (Logan’s very proprietary grip on Jin’s ass), and the vulnerableness of Jin (the juxtaposition between a fully clothed and in control Logan, and a half-naked, insecure Jin). I immediately expected to have some really steamy, rough and tumble sex scenes interspersed throughout the story. The supernatural elements of this series are an added bonus, but the main focus of books 1 to 3 is the growth and development of Jin and Logan’s relationship, Domin’s coming into his own in book 4 (Crucible of Fate), and Jin and Logan’s animal instincts finally taking over in book 5 (Forging the Future).
The covers evoke emotion. There is definitely lust in Change of Heart, a desperate need for each other and intimacy in Trusted Bond, a ferocious protectiveness in Honored Vow on Jin’s part (that glare screams “B*tch, if you dare touch my man, you will know me”), a fierce independence and assertiveness in Crucible of Fate (“I will do it my way, and you can sit down, and shut up” vibes and the “I’ll wear whatever pleases me” outfit to match), and an angry/betrayed testing of wills on the Forging the Future cover.
The covers are interesting because of the medium used (hand-painted look), and the progression of the color scheme. The transition of colors across the series mimics the growth and coming to their own that the characters in the series undergo, from a burgeoning love pink, love and intimacy purple, grounded and permanent browns, to a fertile home/hearth green.
At the end of the day, book covers a great way to appeal to reader’s visual interests, emotions, and give them a feel of the context of the book. At the bare minimum, the cover should entice the reader to stop and at least read the blurb/summary/synopsis, the next topic in The Ribbon Marker’s Guide to Effective Reader Entrapment series.