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Why Book Covers Matter

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

By Michael Heath /

Why Book Covers Matter
Why Book Covers Matter

Writers who type a manuscript and want to publish it will often tell me that they also have the book cover. What they are often referring to is an image, not something that is ready to print. Is it a good idea to use the author’s image or concept in designing a print-ready cover? Maybe, maybe not.

A book cover is much more than an image. The cover includes all or most of the following: an image, title, author name, blurb, author bio, author photo, retail price, bar code and International Standard Book Number (ISBN). A graphic designer will design and format the images and information into a print-ready file that will make up the front, back and spine. How this it presented is very important in providing the best chance for success.

Think of the cover as a marketing tool. The image is very important, and much thought should be put into creating it. Studies show that visuals engage people. This is truer now than ever as we have entered the digital age. The cover image should give a hint to what the book is about. An attractive couple on the front indicates romance, where a suited man sprinting with a briefcase is likely a motivational tome. Authors should avoid covers that are too busy or complex, which will only put off a potential reader. The title and author name need to be in a text height and font that are easy to read.

When picking up a book, what is the first thing everyone does? That’s right: flip it over. There they find the blurb, a short description to entice the reader. Often readers are interested in the author so a short biography and even a photo is helpful. Several other cover components go on the back, including the ISBN that identifies the publisher. In the case of self-publishing, the author is the publisher. The spine should display both the title and author name clearly, since they are all anyone sees when the book is shelved.

Think of the cover as a first impression. If the cover is sloppy or amateurish, people will believe the same of the inside content. Bring your ideas to a professional book designer for discussion. Together you can come up with a cover that will market your book and make you proud.

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