Several years ago, Karen Saunders wrote an excellent article “How to Make a Book Cover Design that Flies Off the Shelf!” Today, her suggestions are still just as valid.
However, there is one I would elevate in importance: “Seek the services of an experienced book cover designer.” I don’t view this as an option or a suggestion but as a requirement. Of course, I have no illusions about my graphic design abilities, so it is easy for me to say everyone should hire a professional book cover designer.
The only thing I might add to her excellent recommendations is to create a cover that looks great as a thumbnail. This is because most people browsing online only look at the thumbnail of the cover, not the actual cover. Instead of judging a book by its cover, they actually judge a book by the thumbnail of its cover. Make sure the title in the thumbnail is clear and easy to read. Next, ensure the reduced size graphics still communicate your intended message.
“Book cover design,” she says in conclusion “is a form of packaging.” Make sure to present your book in the best possible package.
When you shop online, do you judge a book by its thumbnail?