Creating Book Covers That Really Sell

A book cover is like a well prepared resume. When prepared professionally, great resumes produce favourable first impressions on hiring managers; thus dramatically increasing a job prospectors chances of getting an interview call.

And so too is the case with a books’ cover. The human brain is wired to respond based on initial impressions. A great book cover can set in motion psychological chain reactions, based on cover design and artwork, which could ultimately culminate in purchasing the book.


Eliciting that favourable psychological response from book readers and prospective buyers however, is not an easy task. Avid book aficionados are very discerning about judgements they make on which books to buy and which ones to pass. One look at the book cover design can either sway or dissuade their buying decisions.

But it’s not just the “design”, in isolation, that is essential to make a great cover. Professional designers include a lot of factors when designing great-looking book covers. Art, imagery and graphics, colour palette, typography and font, titles etc., all come into play when producing stunning and impactful covers that can really sell books.

Creating covers that sell is all about delivering a message to book buyers. And when you pull all of these factors together professionally, it all translates into a sort of subliminal messaging system. The messaging simply tells the brain: Buy me!

So what should this messaging comprise of? Once again, there are several components that go into using book cover art and design as a psychological messaging system. While individually they may seem trivial, like font choices or colour shades, when composed as a whole, they make a lasting impression on prospective readers.

Let’s take a look at some of the essential elements that separate ordinary covers from professionally designed ones.

An inspiring cover:

  • Excites buyers: Covers can be used as a means of exciting a buyers’ interest in the book. A book with an unexciting cover is not likely to be reviewed for further consideration
  • Grabs their attention: Once they pick up a book, most potential buyers need a reason to dig deeper into the book. Great book covers can offer them that reason
  • Strikes an emotional chord with buyers: Now that they are looking at the cover of the book, they should be stirred to take the next step – perhaps flip the book over and read the blurb. By emotionally engaging them, well designed book covers can persuade potential buyers to do just that!
  • Relates to the writer’s audience: If they “connect” with what they see and read so far, then a buyer will probably be impressed with the book. But if they can’t relate to it, they will just walk away!
  • Motivates buyers to spend: This is this final step in the psychological messaging that is extremely essential. A books’ cover design that buyers can relate to will motivate them to spend to buy the book


 Any book covers that have all of these essential elements will make the book more appealing to prospective buyers. But all of these ingredients must be measured and delivered in good proportion. Otherwise, just like a meal cooked without proportion, too much salt (or colour), or too little pepper (or graphics), may spoil the dish!


Not everyone who is an expert at using Adobe Publisher or Photoshop can produce stunning covers that sell books! Professional cover designers, like Book Cover Gem, bring lots of value to a book publishing project, especially for first-time publications.

How do they add value? By putting years of practical experience behind each book cover they design. If you want to design like a pro, then here’s what you should strive towards:

  • Think “reader”, NOT “writer”: Before you start designing the book cover art, sit back and think like a reader. Visualize what readers want to see. It’s hard – but that’s what sells!
  • Take a walk & talk: Get a sense of what book covers your audience is looking for by interacting (through social media and in-person) with them. You’ll get plenty of cover ideas
  • Design for your genre: If it’s a children’s book, design for kids; if it’s a romance, design for lovers! Use appropriate metaphors, typography and imagery for the genre
  • Be a minimalist: Don’t over crowd or over do the cover. The messaging will be lost! Not everyone can do it – but that’s the type of skill set you need to develop if you want your books to fly off the shelves
  • Great book covers are the glue to the book: Covers are what bind readers to the book. Everything your book stands for, or is about, should be reflected in its cover. Otherwise the book won’t sell!
  • Avoid clichés and puns: Make the title and messaging plain and simple – don’t burry it in innuendos and double-speak: Many readers may not get it!
  • Stay on point: Create a few main points about what you want the cover and blurb to say, and how it should look, and have that in front of you throughout the book cover design process
  • Make an impact: A book about ghosts, haunting and the supernatural should have scary images on the cover – not blue skies and trees!

And while many of these tips may seem “logical”, they are often extremely difficult to put into practice. Without proper skills and experience, unprofessional book cover design can actually harm, rather than help, your book.


Today’s book readers are extremely finicky about which books they read and which they don’t like. And quite often, readers even pass on some terrific books – just by looking at their covers!

Just as our hypothetical job seeker needed a professionally designed resume in order to convince hiring managers to give him/her a closer look, so too can professionally designed covers convince readers that your book is worth taking a closer look at. And in order to make that emotional connection with the reader, and then persuade him/her to actually spend money to buy the book, you need a great book cover that convinces buyers that it’s worth a buy!