You’ll Judge A Book By Its Cover

This month we welcome Epiphany Team Member Sarah Kay Biere to share a guest article. (More about her at the end of the blog post!)

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” goes the old saying. There’s probably some hidden truth in that. However, if you’re a writer, a published author or an adventurer ready to share your book with the world, just forget that old saying. Your book, your message and yourself will be judged by the cover of your book.

That might sound a little abrupt, but – let me tell you – if you’re an author you need to hear the hard truth sometimes. I’m an author. Publishing experts repeatedly gave me advice like this. They told me about the importance of book covers (among other details), and I did my own research to see what would be a good fit for my genre and, at the same time, make that book cover stand out from the other products on a shelf.

I research, write and publish historical fiction. My first novel Blue, Gray & Crimson: A Story of Civilian Courage at Gettysburg featured customized cover art by an award-winning oil painter. Every detail in that artwork was intentional and discussed with the artist. The result? A cover that’s stopped browsing customers in their tracks to say “Wow!”

Last year I released a second book – With Gladness: A Christmas Story Collection. Notice anything different about the cover? Yep, it’s plainer. A lovely photograph, readable text, and green. This is not a “wow” cover. I knew that while I worked on the publication; tight budget limited the choices, and we picked the absolute best we could afford for this project. Sometimes, as an author or publisher, you’ll have to do that. Just make sure it’s an informed and conscious choice.

The point of all this information?

Last December I stood beside my book table at a large community event, chatting with potential customers and sharing about the books. Even though an author tries to get every person to stop by the table and look at a book, some people just aren’t interested. (That has to be okay!) I started noticing a trend in these fast-walking folks. Blue, Gray & Crimson‘s artwork caught their eye and they’d walk by the table, literally staring at that book cover. I had a much larger display of the new Christmas book. Few people double-glanced at that.

That day I finally understood what the experts said. A book IS judged by its cover. There’s absolutely no way getting around that in the publishing and marketing world.

Want to guess which type of cover I’m commissioning for my next novel? That’s right. Custom artwork.

“Go For Orbit” book cover; designed by Epiphany Creative Services

Now, I’m not saying you need to panic and find an artist to create an oil painting or watercolors for your book cover. Rather, this is the advice I’d share with anyone thinking about publishing a book:

  1. Know your target audience (who is going to buy your book?)
  2. Look at trends and classics in your literary genre – here are some examples for fiction writers!
  3. Visit the bookstore and don’t neglect to browse your category on Amazon; you’ll want to think about how your cover will look in a small image online.
  4. Write down elements of cover design that you like (or snap a picture with your phone)
  5. Pick three books to show to your cover designer and tell them what and why you love those covers.
  6. Think about it!

Have you written a manuscript? Have you always wanted to write a book? Not quite sure how to navigate the waters of publishing? Epiphany Creative Services offers a special journey for authors. With our expertise in publishing, marketing, and branding, we can guide you on the path to publication. (Not sure why you need to brand your book? Check out this article.)

“A Different Life” book cover; designed by Epiphany Creative Services

Of course, we care about the book covers. One of our very first meetings with a new author at Epiphany includes a “field trip” to a book store to check out books in your category and explore the options and choices you’ll be considering in the coming weeks.

In the Epiphany Author Journey, we’ll talk about your book cover and all the elements needed to make it top-notch professional. Publishing standards, creative ideas, and market norms. Best of all, we’ll take your ideas to our expert cover designer and together, we will all work to create the cover that best reflects you, your brand and most importantly, the message of your book.

When you receive that package in the mail with the proof copy of your book, guess what you’ll see as you tear open the packaging? That’s right. Your cover.

Book covers shout messages about the book to your customers. They’re great conversation pieces. They’re the silent little witness telling a browsing customer, “Look at me. Buy me! You’ll love this book…”

Create a book cover to WOW. A cover that catches the eye. A cover that folks can’t stop looking at until they’ve met you, bought the book and actually opened the book to start reading!

If you’d like to continue the discussion about designing book covers and publishing, we’d love to chat with you about the wonderful possibilities for your book…


E-Team Member, Sarah


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