A book cover is a key element in your book's success. Although you may
have grown up with the old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover,"
everybody does—at least initially.
A stunning cover design attracts the attention of bookstore browsers and compels them to pick your book up off the shelf. Striking cover art garners attention in online stores such as Amazon, catalogs, book club ads and magazine reviews. Never underestimate the power of an attractive cover to get you noticed.
Take the cover of my book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting as an example. Although I took the photograph, I hired a graphic designer to put the design together.
It was expensive, but worth it. A little story will illustrate how much impact a good cover design can make:
My husband was in the hospital recovering from surgery. He'd asked me to bring several autographed copies of my book to the hospital because he planned to give them to his doctors as gifts. As I was waiting for the elevator, several women who were also waiting turned to me and said, "That looks like an interesting book. What is it about?" Notice that they said that the book looked interesting and then wanted to know what it was about. This is how people work—something catches their eye and generates interest.
When looking for a designer, make sure you don't hire the first graphic
designer or illustrator who comes along. Make certain the designer has
experience designing book covers. Ask to see samples. A designer will
want to grasp the big idea of the book, so he can come up with a concept
that captures its essence.
For instance, my cover shows my husband's hands, cupping my children's hands which is cupping a piece of turquoise. The photograph perfectly captures the essence of my book which is the idea that parents are the keepers of a child's uniqueness until the child is ready to keep himself.
Had I designed the cover myself or used a title without a photograph, the cover would not have been nearly as compelling.
Keep in mind that if you're designing an cover for a digital product (rather than a book that is competing with thousands of other titles on the shelf), you can design the cover yourself. A book designer can charge from $1000 to $2500 or more, so save yourself money and design it yourself.
If you would rather hire a professional cover designer to create the cover for your book, click on the link for my top recommendation. (This designer is excellent and affordable.)
When thinking about the design for your book, this is the best
guideline I can offer: it should compel people to pick up the book and
browse the table of contents. Then the ideas in the chapters should make
them want to buy it.