You Can’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover…Right?

Well, everyone does.  I think it’s safe to say that just about anyone will overlook a book with a dumb cover, even if the actual story is great.

I’m not accusing anyone of judging books by their covers; I do it too!  I always hated going to the library as a kid and seeing all these books that had poorly drawn covers.  The characters looked like colored stick figures with inflated heads.  It turned me off almost immediately.

Image result for dumb book cover
Okay, maybe my expectations were too high as a kid…

Nowadays, especially whenever you self-publish (and you’re a nobody like me), having a gripping cover is increasingly important.  There’s a lot of competition.  It’s important to do things right.  What’s more, almost all of your sales are going to be online, so your cover image is going to be thumbnail-sized.

Dang, things just got harder!

Why do people really judge books by their covers though?  I mean, everyone knows that we “shouldn’t”.  So why do we?

Nowadays, let’s be honest, we prefer everything to be digital.  We prefer everything to be seen, and we want to be able to see everything.  We are entering an age–thanks to technology–where everything is at our fingertips.  And usually this entails being able to see what’s at our fingertips.

Well, now apply this to book covers.

The function of a book cover isn’t just to “cover” a book…not anymore, at least.  It’s meant to inspire certain emotions and feelings within the onlookers.  It’s meant to arouse interest.  It’s meant to appeal to that preference of seeing everything.  

What does that mean?

People don’t want to have to READ your book in order to know what it’s about.  People want to be able to look at your cover and know and FEEL what it’s about.  If the cover appeals to their feelings, then they will read it.

(It’s not surprising that many book covers out there are now slutty images of partially nude men and women being “sexy” *rolls eyes* #uncreative)

What does a good cover look like?

Here’s one of my favorite covers EVER:

Image result for ranger's apprentice halt's peril summary

Halt’s Peril, to me, has a wonderful cover.  It’s gripping.  It’s beautiful.  It’s expressive.  You get a sense of motion.  You get a sense of danger and intensity.  You get a sense of the conflict occurring, and the “closeness” of the fight ensuing (meaning, “Oh GOSH!  That was close!”).

I think more covers should look like this one.  Now, I know not everyone can AFFORD a cover like this.  And that’s a bummer.

But, well, at least we know what to shoot for, even if we’ll never get there.


You might be wondering, “Why is Dom talking about this????”

Well, maybe it has to do with the fact that my own book cover is coming out!

Before, my awesome sister had been the one that created my covers.  And she did an awesome job, given the resources that she had (uh, practically none!).  But now we’ve been working with a friend who has some better resources and a bit more experience with this kind of stuff.   And let me tell you, the cover is looking GORGEOUS.

Elithius is gonna’ be getting a new look!  Stay tuned!

What do you think?  Do you think people judge books by their covers?  What do you think a great cover should look like?

10 thoughts on “You Can’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover…Right?”

  1. The process of choosing one thing means the exclusion of other things. That is reality. As far as book covers, I believe they must convey the essence of the story within. If I opened “Ranger’s Apprentice” and discover a Louis L’Amour style ranger story, I would feel duped and perhaps a bit angry. The best book covers offer a visual clue to your target reader. They create a level of expectation and desire to want to know more. If I am looking for a western piece, then the above cover offers clues that the story within is not what I am looking for. Just my two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, wow, you nailed it! That is exactly right, I just hadn’t thought of that! The nature of a book cover in a nutshell 😉


      1. Well, maybe you could expand on the topic a little more, but I still think you nailed it. And thank you! I’m checking out your site right now!


  2. I definitely think people judge a book by it’s cover! Or I do at least. I’m not sure what exactly catches my eye, sometimes colourful ones, sometimes really basic ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think it’s funny how I’m partial to simple things like colors! But they matter, for whatever reason. Everyone is different!

      But everyone will have certain similarities too. The important thing then becomes appealing to the largest body of similarities.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post-certainly an important part of creating a book. Excited to see your upcoming cover! It’s cool that your sister and a friend have talent in this area and have been able to help you out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And yeah, I’m really excited about it.
      And yes you have no idea what a blessing it is! I’m a very lucky writer!


  4. As much as I try not to, I do judge books by their cover. They are the first way a book invites you in, so I think they should be pretty engaging or tell a little bit of a story in and of themselves… Great post. Love your site!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And yes I agree. Especially nowadays, as we steadily become more visual in the sense of gathering information!
      I will be sure to check out your site too!

      Liked by 1 person

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