This is a guest post by our very talented cover designer, Christy Fuselli of Fuselli Art & Design. If you have a question for Christy, post it in the Comments section or use the Contact form here on our website.
We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The problem with this statement is that when it comes to books, people’s initial perceptions are nearly always influenced by what they experience first. In most cases, a person’s initial point of contact with a book is through its cover. This is true when it comes to both printed books at a physical book store and ebooks in online book stores.
I decided to do a little digging and find out where the old familiar phrase originated. The earliest reference came from George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, written in 1860. After purchasing several books, expecting them to be similar due to their similar binding, Eliot’s character Tom Tulliver discovers that one of the books is not what he had anticipated. The saying has continued to be a popular expression, illustrating that one should not make judgments based on outward appearance. This is wise counsel when it comes to many things in life, but not necessarily when purchasing a book. A lot has changed in the publishing world since 1860 and it’s safe to say that from a design standpoint, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is no longer good advice. Consciously or not, judging a book by its cover is something everyone does the moment their eyes meet a cover.
With that said, it’s important for authors to consider how important it is to have quality book covers designed for their books. It only makes sense to have a cover that is reflective of the amount of time, preparation, and hard work that goes into writing a book. However, with the rise of self-publishing and availability of design programs, many authors are opting out of hiring a designer and taking the book cover design into their own hands.
As book covers are typically the first thing potential readers come into contact with, they have a powerful ability to communicate what a book is about and whether or not it is worth reading. All the details in a cover design, from the colors and fonts to the pictures and illustrations, play a role in communicating the quality and content of a book. A primary reason why professionally designed book covers stand out from amateur cover designs is that a designer has the knowledge of how the elements work together to communicate. Designers understand how to take what the author would like to communicate through the cover and display it visually in a way that appeals to viewers.
There are countless things a book cover can communicate such as quality, professionalism, genre, and mood. It takes all the elements of the design working together to do so successfully. Consider for a moment different genres. Without even visiting a book store (physical or digital) you probably already have an idea of how a novel book cover would differ from an inspirational or historical book cover. This is because the cover designs for books in each of these genres say something about their content.
With the amount of books available on the market today, there is a lot of competition and it is clear that a book cover can either help or hurt sales. Having a book cover professionally designed is well worth the investment as the cover plays an important role in a book’s success. With the amount of dedication that goes into writing a book, why not invest in a cover that can showcase all the hard work in the best way possible?