You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but most people do. It’s a fact that great book cover art will capture potential readers’ attention, while lousy cover art can turn them away. Most writers are apprehensive about choosing cover art because this isn’t their area of expertise; they are writers, not artists or graphic designers. Great book cover art illustrates what the book is about as well as the author’s brand. It’s a tall order for a single piece of art on the cover. However, some guidelines can get writers on the right track when working on their book cover art.

Capture Your Book’s Theme

What is the overall theme of your book? Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, a writer should be able to sum up the overriding theme in a minute. Cover art should do the same thing. If your book is about finance, make sure some representation of money is your cover art focus. A family saga revolving around what happens at the lake house should feature either the place or something representing either the family ties or their conflicts. A memoir of your time spent in Afghanistan might focus on either the militaristic aspect of your story or, if it is a memoir of your relationships with people, an image that sums up that relationship.

Convey the Mood in Your Book Cover Art

Once you have a few ideas of the image or images on the cover, consider the mood. Your image of a beautiful lake house can be captured in different ways depending on your book’s overall mood. Is it a heart-warming saga about a loving family? A bright, sunny picture will let potential readers know this is an upbeat, positive tale. For a thriller about murder or intrigue, opt for a darker image, perhaps at night or in the rain. Whether it is a photograph or an artist’s rendition, everything from the surrounding scenery to the image’s angle can successfully create a particular feeling.

Don’t Neglect the Font

Remember when there was a massive push-back against using the Comic Sans font? The perception of this informal font remains largely negative. Most people perceive it as childish and overly casual. Using it as the font for a non-fiction book would be a bad idea (unless your book is the history of comics or fonts!) An elaborately scrolled font tends to look more feminine and romantic, while a typewriter font is viewed as rugged and vintage. Choose accordingly.

Use a Professional Artist or Photographer

If you’re tempted to take your own photographs or create your own graphic art, reconsider unless you are a professional in either role. Amateur artwork is a turn-off when shoppers are scanning the bookshelves or an online store. Readers assume if the book cover art is sub-par, the writing will also be inferior. Something as simple as the perspective being off can be jarring without a person even being aware of why they don’t like an image. 

For More Control Over Your Book Cover Art, Work with a Hybrid Publisher

Good hybrid publishers strike a balance between what services they provide and how much control a writer retains. This is true for book cover art as well as content and publication. At Dudley Court Press, we work closely with our authors to ensure their vision for the cover is respected while the final artwork is professionally executed. The result reflects the author’s vision while accurately capturing the mood and meaning of the book beautifully. Our process ensures every one of our authors’ books is published with compelling book cover art that enhances their appeal.

Dudley Court Press

Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a full-service, hybrid publishing house, we help thoughtful people write their books and become successful published authors. Contact us to discuss our assisted self-publishing option today.

For more information, including about DCP’s latest programs, please get in touch at +1-520-329-2729 or We’ve recently launched our latest program, Memoir Writing for Non-Writers. This comprehensive, 10-week course helps you turn your memories into a compelling memoir!