If you search the internet for tips on book cover design, you’ll be inundated with blog posts telling you how important the cover is and why you have to spend good money on it yada, yada, yada. Sure, a crap cover will likely turn people off from investigating your book further, but I don’t care how fancy your cover is – if the book isn’t a good read, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on the cover, you’ll never save it. So, first things first, write a good book! Then, when you’re thinking about your cover, don’t just focus on something glitzy and eye-catching. Consider your genre and the reader you’re trying to attract.

One of our authors, Helen Laing, has given us permission to re-use her name and book title to help illustrate what’s really important about your cover – and that’s conveying the message of what your book is all about! Helen’s book is called Circles of Fortune, and here’s the cover here:

Circles of Fortune by Helen Laing
Circles of Fortune by Helen Laing

What do you think Helen’s book might be about? If you’ve got good eyes or can zoom in, you’ll find the subtitle will probably give you a clue, but at first glance you’d get the idea that it’s about something historical. If you’re into history and of a time period suggested by the gentleman on the cover, then you’d possibly investigate more closely based simply on the cover, right?

So, what if Helen’s cover looked like this?

Circles of Fortune by Helen Laing alternative cover 1
Circles of Fortune by Helen Laing alternative cover 1

If you were interested in history you’d skip straight past it, right? But if you were interested in a little romance? Or a bit of an adventure with a female lead? Again, a cover like this would encourage you to look a little more closely, wouldn’t it?

But … what if Helen’s cover looked like this?

Circles of Fortune by Helen Laing alternative cover 2
Circles of Fortune by Helen Laing alternative cover 2

Now, that’s my kinda book! Something probably business-y or finance-related. I’d skip past the first two covers and look more closely at this. How about you? 😉

Don’t try to attract the wrong readers

So the most important thing with cover design is not spending a fortune, but making sure that your book ‘speaks’ to its potential audience.

And a word of warning here – please don’t try to attract a different type of audience by cheating with a cover which mis-represents your book. This will only backfire on you. I have actually had an author ask for something which was unrelated to their book because they wanted to expose their thoughts to a different type of reader. Not on, not going to work, nope. You’ll only antagonise them even if you can get them to buy, and – the stupid thing – you’re missing out on an audience who probably would be interested in your book!

Compare the meerkats

When you’re thinking about your cover, hop online and see what other covers in your genre look like. You don’t need to copy them, and please be careful not to use the same stock image as every other cover in your category (there’s a certain man out there in a purple kilt who pops up on soooooo many romance covers … must be a busy fellow 😉 ), but do try to do something original that still communicates what the other covers in your category or genre are communicating.

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Helen’s ‘real’ Circles of Fortune, is the fictionalised story of Thomas Braidwood Wilson who made nine voyages as a naval surgeon on convict ships before settling down as a pioneer farmer in the southern highlands of NSW. It’s available from your favourite online retailer or The MoshShop here: https://themoshshop.com.au/products/circles-of-fortune-by-helen-laing