Everything I ever needed to know about Book Cover Design, I learned in the frozen food aisle of the supermarket...
What makes a great book cover?
Is it color? Is it blurbs from famous authors? Is it just luck? I wish I knew.
Like pornography, I know a great book cover design when I see it, but I can't tell you why it is fantastic, particularly, other than WOW! What a great book cover . It's something that grabs me when I see it. Sadly, it's not like a Chinese menu...one from column A, one from column B, when it comes to cover design.
I do know, though, that I have learned a shocking lesson in this business. Being an avid reader, I of course always assumed that it was what was inside the covers that sold books. But I've learnt otherwise; great covers do sell books, even those with less-than-stellar stories inside of them. And in thinking about it, I realized that I already knew why these books were selling; it's something I learned years ago, when I was ill and had to cruise the aisles of the dreaded "TV Dinner" section of the supermarket. And here's the horrible truth:
People buy frozen dinners based not upon the actual content of the bag or box or TV-Dinner-Tray, but, rather, based upon which company has put the best picture on the cover of the box.
Let me say that again, in case you missed it: When you go to the supermarket frozen-food aisle, and get ready to try something you haven't had before, you will almost always buy the brand with the best-looking image of the food. The brand with the prettiest picture, in other words.
We humans are visual creatures. We're sight-hounds on two legs. This works on television; it works in movies; it works in advertising...and it works for book covers. So keep this in mind when you are preparing your next cover--think of crows, and bright, pretty things.
I once read the best article I've ever read on the topic of cover design, on "creativeindie.com," but the site's been down for ages. I'd love to reproduce it. If the person (cover designer) who wrote that article sees this, please contact me if you'd like me to post that article here. I think it's an incredibly valuable resource. The original URL for the article in question was: Awesome Creative Indie Article on Cover Design