We’ve all been on first dates at some point. Some are absolutely spectacular, and others are unmitigated disasters—but in all honesty, most fall somewhere in the middle. There’s dinner and light-hearted conversation, followed by a movie and maybe coffee or drinks after. If all goes well, there may even be a goodnight kiss and plans for a second date.
During the course of that first date, did you reveal every deep, dark embarrassing secret about yourself? Did you share all your wildest hopes, dreams and desires? Did you tell this person you just met about your entire extended family, including your uncle Lester (on your mom’s side) who’s on disability and makes a living selling raccoon pelts? Did you at any time strip down naked so your date could see any and all physical flaws you may have?
I’m guessing you answered “No” to those questions, and there’s a good reason for that. Revealing too much about yourself too soon would be overwhelming and very off-putting to another person. Oversharing is rarely a good idea. Besides being embarrassing, it takes away your ability to control how the other person perceives you because you’ve spewed every pertinent piece of information about yourself all at once.
Think of your book cover design as a first date with your reader. You don’t necessarily want to tell your audience the entire story immediately. All you want to do is give them a general idea, a positive impression of what your book is about, and a feeling about its tone. This goal can be accomplished through a careful selection of images, colors, typefaces and other design elements. (Check out our blog post outlining the top five questions to ask when designing a book cover.)
When properly combined by a professional designer, a good book cover sets the book’s mood in an appealing way that grabs a reader’s attention without having to give too much away. Few things are more appealing in a new relationship as a little mystery. The same can be said with a book.
As the saying goes, sometimes “less is more.” By creating a book cover that only hints at the basic qualities of the story, plot or characters, you entice the reader to linger a bit. Hopefully, they’ll be intrigued enough to read the blurb. From there, they may read a few reviews, and if all goes well in your author-reader relationship, they’ll eventually say “I do,” clicking the buy button. Until then, be strategic about how much you let your cover design reveal, play a little hard to get. Give potential readers just enough information to snag their attention. Before you know it, you’ll be closing the deal.
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