Mix of new release books, most are hardcover or larger 6 X 9 Plus size paperback. Notice the top row of yellow images seem to get lost even though the guy with the amazing abs might grab a women's fiction or romance fan. Third from the top and bottom row are a number of black covers.
Marketing your novel today means even if you are traditionally published by the biggest house, you need to be aware of the arena you are playing/ selling. This post will show you some examples of a couple genre areas in the Barnes and Noble bookstore near where I live and talk about the other places your work will show and how to plan out the best cover design for your work. Today even a traditional publisher might use a formula layout for your cover but here I suggest you go deeper into your market as the visual part of picking the book off the shelf or buying online directs sales. While I was taking my iPhone photographs three readers who were browsing the Young Adult section chatted with me about what compels them to purchase a new book. They all cited, "the cover art" is the most influential part of paying money for an unknown author.
On this science fiction shelf there is more variety in colors, most images are illustrations or photographs that are photo-shopped to look like gouache or paintings
The trend for publishers seems to be to copy rinse and repeat whatever was the last big seller. The black background with stark single image photograph with perhaps only red highlights still dominates (think Twilight series). Also illustrations with simple bright colors seem to pop in orange, yellow or red.
Mystery titles have larger font and graphic Author names that scream out at the reader, "buy me."
Here is another mystery genre stack of all paperbacks. More than half use red as the predominant color scheme.
A few rules which I would suggest:
Do not use borders; they don’t align well when printed. They can often appear goofy.
Stay away from an all-white background as on the Amazon or Barnes and Noble sites the background is already white and your book will be more difficult to notice.
View the color green that Barnes and Noble uses and the yellow Amazon uses and take these into account as background either complementary or contrasting colors for online purchases.
Author biography notes really need not be on the cover- you will have space on Amazon for a full video of you dancing or illustrating your books. Save the rear cover for endorsements of the book, blurbs that tease a little, a subtitle or two.
It used to be the Title goes first and Author name second. This is a dumb rule. As you can see the point is to scream your name proudly. FONTS fonts fonts are your friends and learn to use one that speaks your language. Font style and placement and size all speak about you and your novel.
I hope you got some headshots when you were young and pretty, or put them inside the book. No one buys a painting of an ugly old man – even if he’s a president or your grandfather.
Top Teen Pics: YA and Young Adult It is necessary to have an attractive girl usually a photograph of her face or romanticized lifestyle.
Teen Fiction (not certain how that differs from YA) ... wait ... I want to put a plug in for Ellen Hopkins who now dominates a whole shelf and two other areas of Barnes and Noble. :)
Biography requires a photograph of the person written about. These images are black and white or sepia as to appear "artistic."
Including one of my recent favorite versions of the black cover, Nick Tosches Me and the Devil really jumps from the Amazon page - see the golden yellow and blue arrow that are Amazon trade colors.
Teen Fiction Covers with variety of photographs. A couple cliches I'm tired of: stay: the back of the girl head cut off, the lady in a gown with no face, and Author with hair over face. The idea is to not be so specific in illustrating what the female lead looks like and have the reader focus on the cover image, but to allow one's imagination to run with their own idea.