I consider myself a design-oriented person, even though I have no formal training in it.
Example 1: I thoroughly enjoy decorating my home. I can easily put together a vignette on any flat surface in my home, taking into account balance, white space, odd pairings, texture, color, et cetera. As a result, I’m exceedingly pleased with how my fireplace mantel turned out after one try.
Example 2: At my day job, one of my primary responsibilities is making executive-level PowerPoint presentations. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m really good at creating visually-appealing and professional presentations. I created our company template, and I am admittedly awesome at balancing visual illustrations (shapes! smart art! graphs!) with textual information (tables! bullet points!).
[Side note: Never use default Office colors. It’s lazy and looks terrible.]
This is one of my greatest strengths, but it has also made me a complete snob about book covers. I will absolutely judge a book by its cover, and I make no apologies for that. It’s rare that I buy a gorgeous book and the inside is utter dross, whereas the reverse is often true. I’ll stick with what’s worked for me since I was a child.
To me, the cover of your book signals how much you’ve invested in it, including time, effort, and money. I’m not saying you need to spend a fortune for a nice book cover. There are a lot of artists out there who design book covers for reasonable amounts. Full disclosure: I paid $350 for an eBook and print cover design for Battle Hymns. That price may be on the higher side of what you can find browsing the web, but my designer specializes in historical fiction and I couldn’t find anyone else who could compete with her. Plus, she made me, Book Cover Snob Cara, exceedingly happy with the design.
I’m constantly astounded (in a bad way) by some of the covers of self-published works I see promoted on Twitter, Goodreads, or book blogs. I really want to share some of the worst ones, but I shouldn’t call out any specific authors. I believe in karma.
Instead I shall return to Goodreads and find books I want to read based solely on their covers. I will also leave you with this: