What Makes a Good Cover?


I’m at a stage in my writing where I’m looking at cover designs for a new release of Christmas short stories. Wanting to do it “right,” I Googled best selling e-books, holidays  on amazon.com.    A glance at all those naked torsos made me laugh and decide I’d better try another category.  There is not a naked male in any of my stories where the tone is light, whimsical, and just a bit magical.

This time I tried “clean and wholesome.”  The tone is more suited to my stories but a lot of the covers seemed dark, to my eye.  Maybe it’s my age, but reading a title against a black or navy or even dark red background is hard work.  I know, I can magnify the image, but if I were a reader hunting through a long list of Christmas anthologies, I doubt I’d have the patience to enlarge each image.  I’m more apt to pause at the one that catches my eye without any effort on my part.

A quick search of “anthologies,” presented even more black-toned covers.  I know many best selling authors  tend toward this style and readers must like them or the authors wouldn’t be “best selling.”  Still, if I’m looking for a cover for my book, I want it to be pleasing to my eye.

The first page under “historicals,” provided a little more colour, but most had too much heat for my, as yet unpublished, anthology.

Finally I had a look at some of my favourite authors’ covers. Debbie MacComber covers have the right tone for my stories.  There is a softness about them and a sense of “home” that appeals to me, and reflects the mood of the stories I tell. Lisa Wingate has some beautiful covers, at least I think they are. Robyn Carr uses flowers and beaches and porches.  Light, cheerful colours make me want to open those books.

I found sponsored ads on the amazon pages of these writers that caught me up short. The covers were nothing like the ones the marquee authors used and I wonder if the stories were similar.  These are sponsored ads, so Debbie MacComber, etc. are not endorsing either the covers or the stories.  It behoves readers to check out those sponsored ads carefully and not assume the books are similar to the top-name writers.

It’s important to know one’s limitations, so in the end, I turned to the fabulous Dawn Charles at Book Graphics to create a cover for my stories. I know she’ll do a good job and she’s lots of fun to work with, but I’m still interested in what readers look for in a cover.

Do you like black? Do you like lots of muscled torsos?  Do flowers make you yawn?

Leave a comment and I’ll put you in a draw for the new book. Winner announced  Nov. 1, 2017.

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  1. Laura Langston

    I just skipped over to Book Graphics and Dawn Charles does great covers. I’m sure you’ll be happy with what she comes up with (she’s come through for you before!).

    I love black but to wear, not on covers. I love muscled torsos but in the flesh, not on covers. I love flowers anywhere and everywhere. And they never, ever make me yawn.

    • Alice Valdal

      🙂 Thanks Laura,
      Are your flowers in full bloom? I agree with you re black and muscle. The new book has snow on the cover.

  2. Rachel

    I rely on the cover to tell me whether the book is the right one for my mood at the time. Watercolour flowers are always a plus. A charming house will make me at least read the cover blurb. Dark tells me I’ve got to be able to tackle a dark story; misty greys warn me I might be in for a depressing tale…
    I clearly remember as a child learning not to judge a book by its cover, but in today’s world of infinite choice, I admit that I let the mood and feel of a cover sway me – a lot!

    • Alice Valdal

      Agreed. I was just at the library and found myself rejecting certain books without opening them because the cover suggested the story would be hard work, and it’s summer time. OTOH Louise Penny’s covers are dark, but I buy her books without even reading the blurb, just because it is Louise Penny.

  3. Carlene

    Hi Alice
    The TITLE is what I look for first. But in your case it would be the AUTHOR … as I am curious to know you even better. I honestly can say the cover is not as important to me as what I’ve already stated.

    • Alice Valdal

      Absolutely. For an author you already know, I don’t think the cover matters all that much, you know you’re in for a good read, regardless of the cover image. Thanks for writing. You and Laura and Rachel are all in the draw.

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