My friend Jan is in the research process of figuring out how and with whom to publish a novel. She is a thoughtful and methodical person and I am benefiting from all her reading, as I don't have the patience to do that. "You've got to have a professional-looking cover," she says at our Friday writing day. "It makes all the difference."
I know she's right. CreateSpace, where I'm about to publish my first novel, lets you design your own cover. And it's a great option, especially if money is tight. You get to pick from a lot of images and a lot of fonts and do something that pleases you. And most of these covers look fine. But they don't all look great. Most people don't know about the legibility of fonts, or the emotional impact of colors, or the way that shifting everything a quarter-inch to the right will make all the difference in eye appeal.
Graphic designers are trained in eye appeal, as most of them make their money from marketing and advertising work. They've learned all the subtleties that encourage people to pick something up and examine it more closely. It's a combination of art and science that most of us don't have.
I'm blessed to have a designer who's a friend and a colleague. She has a great eye for color and shape and organization, and she's a pleasure to work with because it's a collaborative effort. I've been working with her to design the cover for the novel. I've asked for color changes, different fonts, moving things around a little. And she's been gracious and come up with great solutions. She has also designed an interior that carries the cover design so my book will be gorgeous inside and out.
I think many people do judge a book by its cover. Maybe not judge, but definitely pick up and buy. Something to consider when you get ready to self-publish.