why your book cover sucks

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Damn I'm on a roll. Since I have writer's block for my actual books, may as well work on this one.

Book covers. The thing every reader will use to make the decision rather or not to pick up a book and take a gander at it. They're the most important thing an author needs next to an editor.

Yet some of y'all seem to forget that. Every time I scroll through my feed, I'm bound to see one or two of the Five Great Elder Gods of Wattpad book covers:

The Minimalist ~ simple, no title, no author name,  just a random pic off the internet of something relating to the story, sometimes steals art, sometimes is obsessed with profile aesthetics

The Instagram Model  ~ random face claims on the cover terribly photoshopped in a random background, googles *insert person or object here* PNGs, readers say it looks amazing to be encouraging, blurry, looks good from a distance until you get up close like an Instagram model

The Becky ~ Uses a plain font, often puts "By:" on the cover, Playstation 2 resolution, sometimes also steals random art to use as cover without giving credit or uses a stock image with the watermarks still visible

The Calligraphist ~ An amateur at covering making, uses Picsart, no matter the story uses a cursive/handwritten font, horrible/random text placement or makes text the same color as background, partially a Becky and an Instagram Model

The Boomer ~ Doesn't know color coordination, loves adding drop shadow or bevel or outlines to text, horrid manipulation, CRUST, stock image vibes, has a little bit of Becky in their DNA, probably for a fantasy novel, looks like a K-Mart version of something Cassandra Clare would publish in 2009

The Careless ~ this type of author doesn't even bother uploading a cover or picture.

If one or more of these hits close to home, congratulations, you've scared off hundreds of potential readers. But fear not, for once I'm not here to bash you (okay maybe a little bit) considering I've been three of them, never been a minimalist, I fucking did at least something. You minimalists have absolutely no damn excuse.

I'm not giving cover creating classes because that's too tedious and there's plenty of cover tutorials on Wattpad and the interwebs in general. But, as someone who's been making covers for 5 years and has moved up from MS Paint to Picsart to Adobe designing semi-professional graphics, I can probably offer a bit of feedback.

So my advice?

Avoid doing almost everything you currently do. Monkey see monkey do - aka take notes from professional graphic designers. Ask yourself what about the cover draws you in, figure out the elements that make it a good cover. Is it the text placement? The simple yet detailed design? The color themes? Hell recreate the covers for practice. Try a new software to create covers in, try different methods. Oh and use high-quality images (Pinterest is excellent for finding good quality pics, so are sites with public domain images).

(And no, saying you don't have access to fancy softwares or even a laptop isn't an excuse to get out of your comfort zone. I used to use a combination of apps like Picsart and drawing apps such as Ibis Paint to make shit. There's ways.)

They say don't compare yourself to others, but you should. Don't do it excessively and acknowledge you're an idiot who's still learning, but love of fucking god don't think your covers are hot shit because they aren't. In other words, give yourself credit, but don't label yourself a graphic artist.

A cover only looking good to you isn't enough. Bitch of course something you've created yourself looks good to you (at least when your standards are low). A cover is a bit more about correctly capturing the story and grabbing the interest of readers than it is what you the author likes. Just because you love the cursive font on your fantasy war novel doesn't mean it actually looks good. Yes, you the author should like your own book covers, but don't use a cover solely because you like it.

A couple of extra tips

I suggest going simple. Meaning don't shove all 6 book characters, other random shit, "Written By:", and subtext on a cover. Just because you want/like different elements doesn't mean they'll look good together, it's like mixing all your favorite foods together in a blender, it's just gonna taste like 10 jugs of creamy ass juice that was left in the trunk on a 90-degree day. Limit yourself to 2-3 important book elements at most to put on the cover (I.e. A person/animal, an object, and a place/base background) People will discover everything else when they actually read the book so stop trying to make the cover a synopsis.

Pick a font that fits the cover. I'm sick of seeing random fonts on covers that they do not fit whatsoever. Use a font that matches the genre. Or, go with something like Cinzel/Cinzel Decorative, Cinzel is a classic and will good and professional on literally anything.

Do not attempt to manipulate images together that don't have similar lighting if you don't know how to properly adjust it. Don't take a stock PNG of a log and try to blend it with a dark forest background and put another PNG of a sitting girl on the log with a random wolf next to her, unless you're a master at manipulation, it's not gonna look good no matter how hard you try to make everything the same color palette (Yes I see you hoes, turning people the same color as your background to "fix" the lighting).


Anyhoo, if anyone (most likely no one will) has further questions or wants feedback on their covers, feel free to ask me.

K, bye

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