6 Tips for a Best-Selling Book Cover

August 29, 2022 3 min read


By Author Matheus Mourao

Hey, aspiring authors, here are some interesting numbers:

  • By 2019, the total number of books published in the U.S. exceeded4 million—in that year alone
  • Nearly1.7 million books were self-published in the U.S. in 2018
  • 20 million previously published books are still available through many sources 

No matter how great your novel, no matter how popular your genre, standing out from the crowd is becoming increasingly difficult. Technology allows us all to become a publishing house, equipped with AI-driven writing and editing, an abundance of page layout templates to choose from, and book cover design tools to experiment with.  

According to a 2018 Author’s Guild survey:

  • The median income of all published authors who were surveyed … was $6,080, down 3% from four years ago … Worse still, the median income for all published authors based solely on book-related activities fell … 21%, while full-time traditionally published authors earned $12,400.

  • The median income for full-time authors for all writing-related activities, however, was $20,300 in 2017, up 3% from 2013.

  • Roughly 25% of all authors surveyed earned $0 in book-related income in 2017; 18% of full-time authors earned $0 in book-related income during the same time period.

We can’t all be J.K. Rowling or Stephen King! But what we can do is ensure that we capitalize on the tools available: write the best manuscript you can, employ professional editors (including developmental, editing and proofreaders) and work with a seasoned team for book cover design.

For many authors, your book cover is your most important marketing tool.

For nonfiction it’s a crucial starting point intobook funnels for authors.

Think of your front cover as the preview into your book. Just like a movie preview is there to help viewers decide if they want to shell out $20 to see a film, your front cover is what your reader is going to use to judge whether they want to invest their time and money into reading your story. This is your chance to hook them and get them intrigued enough to read your book.”

Solid book cover design is not subjective. There are proven design essentials created and tested over decades of book sales. Here are six crucial tips for awesome book covers:

1. Go with the pros

A professional design team experienced in book cover design greatly increases the marketability of your book. You need great graphic designers, illustrators and photographers.

2. The cover must match the content

Your cover conveys genre and narrative. Your title is the first clue, but your imagery, colour choices and design utilize visual clues to strengthen the message.

“Strong cover design will catch a reader’s eye, capture their interest and communicate what the book is about.  These are the things that inspire someone to buy your book.”

3. Study the competition

Book buyers scroll through retail and review sites and so should you. “No matter what product or service your business offers, it will always face competition. Understanding your competitors … is the key to success.” Writing is an art, but selling your book is business, never forget that, ever.  

4. Keep your design simple

There's no right or wrong in the creative process. But, as Cover Kitchen says, "You don't want to pack 200 cool ideas into one book cover. That's why editing and perhaps ‘killing your darlings’ is an important step in the creative process… Try to keep the decorative elements down to just a few, or you risk weakening the main concept.”

5. Legibility is crucial

Books are bought online with thumbnail-sized covers. It’s crucial that book buyers “can read the title and author name.” Titles must always be prominent, and subtitles too. You never want a potential buyer to have to search out your title!

6. Always use high-quality images

Striking, high-resolution images and illustrations are important. Wow potential readers with strong imagery and powerful color choices that radiate theme and genre and personality!

    Great books are collaborative efforts. No successful writer ever works alone, nor should you. Hire professional readers and editors and always work with the best book cover design team to grab eyeballs and clicks and drive sales!

    Leave a comment

    Comments will be approved before showing up.

    Also in So You Want to Write? Blog

    9 Ways to Market Your First Book
    9 Ways to Market Your First Book

    May 30, 2024 6 min read

    Have you ever wondered why some first-time authors gain a lot of attention while others don't? The secret often lies in how well they market their books.

    For new authors, getting the hang of marketing can make a big difference. Having a solid plan to promote your book can really boost its success.

    Read More
    4 Essential Tips for Marketing Nonfiction Books
    4 Essential Tips for Marketing Nonfiction Books

    January 31, 2023 5 min read

    Read More
    How to Build an Author Platform to Market Your Work
    How to Build an Author Platform to Market Your Work

    November 07, 2022 4 min read

    Here's how to build an author platform that attracts readers that will buy your book(s).
    Read More