Of course, we do! Even though our moms said never to judge a book by its cover, we do it all the time. I do not advocate judging people by their skin color or by the way they dress. But that is people. We judge books by their covers.
There is a very different cover on a romance novel than there is on a mystery novel than there is on a sci-fi novel than there is on a true crime novel. We know what it is that we are attracted to and we look for that when we scan book covers.
Here’s the truth
If you are going to self-publish your book, my challenge to you is to please hire a kickass professional to design your book cover. Better yet, hire someone who has specifically designed book covers in the past to design your book cover. This being my livelihood and area of expertise, I can spot a poorly done self-published book a mile away. If your book cover is done on Canva or on MS Paint, then you are doing a disservice to the hard work you have put into your writing and a disservice to the reader who could be changed by your book but doesn’t pick it up because… everyone judges a book by its cover!
You want to do a field trip
Go to the bookstore and go into the section where your book is going to be. Let’s say you’re writing a book on business, more specifically, profitability in your business. You’re going to go into the business section and look at all of the books that cover profitability and look at what colors, what fonts, and what designs are being used on their book covers. That’s what you want to emulate because people are going to be attracted to those patterns. They know what to expect
For a long time, business book covers were mostly black, red and white. And it was everywhere. Building a Story Brand, The 12 Week Year, even Option B by Sheryl Sandberg that wasn’t strictly business. Black, red and white were on all of the book covers.
And now, this season, it is orange. From The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck by Mark Manson to This is Marketing by Seth Godin, orange is huge. When we designed the cover for Own Your Sh!t, we specifically chose orange as the author wanted it to emulate a similar feel to Mark Manson’s book.
So do your homework, look at what’s on the market, know that people are going to judge your book by its cover, and hire a professional to do your book cover. And if you are traditionally publishing, sorry, the traditional publisher gets to do all of that for you. You really have zero say in your book cover as a first-time author, but you are also not paying out of pocket for the design work.