Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 2

Welcome back to Joan's Golden Rules for Ebook Success.

No, I'm not an expert. I'm just a working writer who has had some success with my ebooks. Because I know how hard it is to make a living as a writer, I'm passing on what I have learned as well as how I have put that knowledge to work for me.

I hope this will help shortcut the process for you. Maybe you can achieve your own brand of success in a shorter period of time.

So far, I've discussed:

Ebook Success: Get Educated

Ebook Success: Write Business Plan

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 1

As a reminder, here's my list of golden rules--called golden because I hope they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales.

Joan's Golden Rules

1. Get educated.

2. Write a business plan.

3. Choose cover art wisely.

4. Write professional ad copy.

5. Choose price wisely.

6. Give a smart sample.

7. Write a good book.

8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 2

As I've stated, my daughter Adina Reeves is my resident graphic artist. She was a graphic artist for the Houston Chronicle before deciding to teach art in high school. She's done a lot of freelance graphic design work for authors and other clients over the years.

I asked her to help me compose a list of characteristics of a good graphic design. Together, we came up with this list of what makes a good book cover design.

1. An image that evokes an emotional response in the reader.

You want your reader to laugh or cry or get cold chills. Evoking an immediate response makes the reader want the book.

2. A color palette that reaches out, in a good way, to readers.

Professional art departments at publishing houses have guidelines they follow when designing book covers. About 10 years ago, a yellow book cover appeared and sold extremely well. Before that, yellow was considered an unsuccessful color to place on a book. Within a year, there were dozens of yellow covers. Same thing with the “cartoon” covers of chick lit. When they first appeared and drew attention, other publishers followed suit. Pretty soon, you knew if you saw a cartoon cover, that the book was chick lit or romantic comedy.

Covers that reach readers draw attention to the book, and that's what you want. Colors go in and out of fashion. Check out what’s hot at the Color Institute.

3. Fonts that are easily readable but also striking.

Have you ever seen a font you just can’t decipher? I have. Old English-type fonts and some script fonts just defeat me. Have you ever seen a font on a book cover that makes you think of the font used in emails? Would that affect your opinion of the value of the book or your opinion regarding who designed the cover? Professional artist or author posing as artist?

4. A composed image that’s “balanced” and accurately represents the emotional tone of the book.

Artists work with the Rule of Thirds. At least that’s what I call it. An image is more interesting if it’s in a third of the page than in dead center. Look at a bunch of book covers that you like, and some you don’t like, and see if you can list some reasons that they either work for you or don’t. Get used to composing photographs you take with this "thirds" style.

5. A cover that hints at the characters involved, but does not show their faces, makes the reader pick up the book.

Covers that artistically show “body parts” are more enticing than those that show real faces. At least I think they are and so do most artists. Readers have prejudices about what they think is appealing in men and women. When a reader is involved in a book, he or she knows what the character looks like because their imagination tells them.

When a cover illustration goes against their imagination’s offering, they don’t like it. When a cover shows a face that looks like Angelina Jolie or Vince Vaughn, and a reader doesn’t like either of these actors, then the reader may not buy the book just because of that.

Believe it or not, I still have more to say about this subject. Drop by next week for Cover Art, Part 3.

Takeaway Truth

A rising tide floats all boats. I wish you magnificent ebook sales. If my advice helps, please let me know.


  1. Who'd have thunk? So much preplanning into a series of covers that more or less "brand" you. You and Adina have done a fabulous job. I thought it was fascinating how you made the skin pinker. Brilliant!

  2. Thanks, Cheryl. I always know what I want, but I'm lucky to have Adina know how to make that happen.

    I really want to redo the cover of The Trouble With Love because now I have a good idea for branding that series.

    Just so swamped with everything because of being sick for a couple of weeks and now coping with "allergy eyes" though that's better than an infection which is what I thought I had.

    Trying to finish writing first book of my novella series. I've been getting emails from readers wanting to know what day it would be out!

    Yikes! That's a nice predicament to have though.

    Have you got all your backlist on ebooks yet? (Readers, visit Cheryl Bolen on Amazon for some wonderful regency historicals.)