There are hundreds of designers vying for every author’s attention with premade book covers. And let’s face it, premade covers are a great deal all around. You can get a high quality, beautiful cover, sometimes from designers who are no longer taking custom clients, at a fair price that you can afford. Not only that, but it’s also a quick turnaround so you have your cover in hand within days instead of waiting months for a custom slot. You also know exactly what you’re getting before you shell out the cash. What’s not to love?
Sometimes though, when your choices are so broad it’s hard to know if you’re making the right decision for your book. How do you know if the cover you fell in love with will actually attract your target audience? And sell your book? That’s where doing some market research will come into play along with choosing a designer who specializes in your genre, or at least works in your genre regularly.
- During your search for a premade cover, you need to research your market. But, in order to do that, you need to first determine who is your target audience. And no, men and women 18-100 does not count. You need to get more specific. You need to think about who is really going to be the most likely candidate to read your book. Narrow it down to one gender and a 10-15 year age gap. Look at other authors in your genre and see where your book fits, then look at those author’s target audiences. This will help you determine who will most likely be your reader base.
- Once you’ve determined your target audience, then you can research your market. How do you go about that?
- First, determine which sub-genres your book will fit into. I’d recommend 2-3 different sub-genres to research.
- Look at the top 100 paid on Amazon in those sub-genres. Make note of what you see. Do the covers predominately have people on the cover – how many and how big are they (front and center, further in the distance)? Is it mostly landscape/scenery – what colors are being used? What about the typography? What style fonts do you notice – serif, sans-serif or script?
- Navigate to your sub-genres on Amazon or any major retailer, and sort by publication date. Look through what’s about to be published in the next few months, especially around the timeframe you plan to publish. Not all pre-orders have covers ready but many do. This gives you a great snapshot of what the market will look like, especially from bigger authors who you know are going to be in the top 100 in the future. Does the market seem to be trending the same as what you noticed, or is it changing?
- It also never hurts to go look at one or more of the big 5 publisher’s websites and see what they’re releasing or about to release. Although they’re not indie, they tend to follow similar trends and styles so it always helps to see what they’re up to.
- Once you have a good idea of the market, that’s when I recommend you start searching for a premade cover. Or, if you’ve already found one you love, go take a look at it with fresh eyes. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Does the cover very clearly state the genre at first glance?
- Does the typography fit with your genre/sub-genre?
- Does the color scheme fit in well with the current market? It’s okay if it’s not identical, but it helps to have a similar color palette to what’s selling.
- Does the cover have the right tone/mood for your story?
- Does the designer work in this genre regularly? This will help to know whether they’re in tune with the current market or not.
- Does the cover look professionally created? Not all premade covers are created equal. Some have a more professional touch to them depending on the designer’s skill level.
Now, sometimes, authors purchase a premade cover before a book has even been written, and the cover inspires the story. That’s awesome and a completely legit way of using premade covers as well to your benefit. I would still encourage some market research after purchasing, to make sure you’re hitting the right target audience with your storyline. That way your cover will serve its full potential for you.
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to the designer and ask if the cover you’re looking at will fit a particular sub-genre. I’ve had authors ask me and I’m always perfectly honest. If I don’t think it will work well for their story, I’m not going to lie about it. I have reason to believe that my professional colleagues are the same and wouldn’t steer you in the wrong direction, assuming they know the market.
I wish you the best in your cover search!