Book Covers Should Rely on Genre, Not Trends

It’s no secret: An attractive, eye-catching cover is the secret to its initial success. Every day sees thousands of new books entering the marketplace, and an eye-catching cover makes it that much easier to market and sell. A cover is the face of a book, your best chance of drawing someone in to crack it open.

New technological advances have made book covers more critical than ever. Now, stores use visual merchandising software to train the eye to find the products they want – or, rather, the products the stores want them to buy. This is true of almost every retail environment, but it hits especially hard in bookstores. While nobody, especially small presses, wants to admit to judging a book by its cover, that’s exactly what we do.

This is why it is essential to choose a cover design that fits your book. Now, it’s not enough to just have a well-designed face. In the past few years, cover design trends have converged into a cohesive brand. If you’ve walked into an independent bookstore recently, you’ll see what we mean. Nearly every novel has bold typography, a minimalist design, utilizes hand-drawn letters, and includes some type of collage. Don’t trust us? Check out a few examples.

As a result, you should consider several variables when determining your book cover. You of course want it to look professional. It should convey all the information you want a reader to know, including the title and mood of the story. However, neither of these factors is the most important. This title belongs to the book’s genre.

In some cases, it is critical to have a book stand out from others – perhaps in relatively streamlined genres, like memoir and literary fiction. In these cases, the design needs to immediately convey what the story is about and something about the reading experience – whether it will be fun, thrilling, or emotionally heavy. You’ll need to set the tone before the design process, figuring out what aspects of the story you want to put front and center. The goal, here, is to be as unique as possible.

In other cases, you’ll want the cover to rely on genre themes. This is especially true for mystery, horror, and romance stories. This indicates to the customer that they have found exactly what they want before even needing to crack open the book. In these cases, draw on genre themes and incorporate elements of the story to create an individual but instantly recognizable cover.

Regardless of genre, we can’t overstress the importance of a well-designed cover. It should look professional and say something about the book. Only then will a customer pick it up off the shelf.