We're excited to bring you a guest post from Jolene Perry. Jolene has successfully self-published as well as traditionally published dozens of contemporary romance novels under her real name and a couple of pseudonyms, and also designs her own covers. When we asked her to share a little bit of her knowledge with our followers, this is what she had to say.
So. I tried to condense all my thoughts on covers and cover design into a few bite-sized chunks...
We'll see how I did.
The cover is more about getting the feel of the book right than making sure the people are JUST LIKE your people. I see authors struggle all the time to find just the right couple and they compromise so many other aspects of the book for that ONE thing. Make sure that your cover shows the TONE of your book more than anything else. Show people what they have to look forward to. I think I did a good job of this in Falling - I see that cover and I know I'm going to get a fun love story. In After All, I found a girl who is JUST like my girl so I used the pic, and I've sold a MINOR fraction of After All than of Falling... (Yes, I'm working on finding a good photo for that one)
I also like to use bright colors, and it's helped me a TON.
I have two points here -
FIRST - I'm a huge font nerd. HUGE. But just because I love a font and the font goes perfectly with my story and title and picture, doesn't mean it's going to be readable... 90% of the time someone sees your book, they're going to see a thumbnail. Keep that in mind when picking a font.
SECOND - really think about author branding with this. Jolene Perry is my real name and my font branding is mostly out of my hands b/c most of those covers were done by publishers and I had no, or very little, say. I've done a much better job w/ Mia Josephs - I use the same font a HUGE amount w/ the name Mia. And definitely always for the author name. Building recognition is huge.
Covers sell books. People judge books by their covers. Know your audience, look at the books that are selling well for that audience, and come up with your own version of this. Before you roll your eyes at me because I basically told you to copycat something - go look at the top 100 books in any given genre. Chances are that there will be similarities in cover design on at least half of them. Trends change. Font trends change. Picture types change. Know what's out there. So, follow that, but find a way to make yourself stand out ;-) So, see? I'm not actually telling you to copycat.
Wow. I had a lot more to say on this than I thought, lol.
Finally. Your cover, more than anything else, should be designed to sell your book.
Go with your gut, but get outside help. Outside of your crit group or your online besties.
And the question isn't - How perfect for my book is this?
It should be more like - Would you pick up this book?
I have sold more copies of My Heart for Yours than any other book. We've changed that cover three times, and this is the picture that has easily sold the most copies.
AND... Those are my thoughts on covers :-D