The main element within any book cover design is always the image that you choose to represent your idea or concept for the book, having said this (and I know what some may be thinking) there are of course books which have covers entirely made up of text and nothing more, but even so, you could argue that it is then the text which becomes the image at this point anyway.
The point I’m making is that any book cover design will need a focal point to draw in the viewer and portray a message in a clear, concise and effective manner. And this will vary from genre to genre, each individual section within the literary world will have its ‘standard’ (and to some degree, expected) format when it comes to the art work upon the front page.
For example, probably the worst genre for this is erotic literature, most books play on the exact same theme for their covers, if it’s a book aimed at straight women the cover will normally have a shirtless guy, and if its target audience is straight men then replace the shirtless man for a woman wearing very little. The covers are very blunt and ‘to the point’, but when you think of a high selling and successful book within this field then the first erotic book that most people could name is Fifty shades of grey.
One thing that the designers of the Fifty Shades cover got very right was understanding that the audience is far more sophisticated, much of the readership of that particular book would have been turned off by a clichéd cover with semi naked people upon (these books were being read in offices, subway trains and lots of other public places), so a subtle cover gave the story more credence as a novel, it showed that it was something which offered more than just cheap thrills.
So, the concept which is used to represent your book needs to run a little deeper at times than just adhering to dictated clichés, you should target the audience and take into account the trends within your own specific genre but at the same time ensure that the impression given by your cover professionally represents your work.
And this is where the fine line is, the book buying public have never had so much choice when it comes to buying a new title, the moment you scan the pages of the online book stores you see just how many new books you have to choose from. So, what do most people do? We scan quicker and quicker through the selection available, we overlook (what could be great reads) quickly and move on to the next based upon a very fast assumption made about each book.
This means that you need an eye-catching focal point, something to stop the viewer and make them look further, a design which looks both professional and gives a clear message, because once you have them reading your blurb your chances of gaining a sale increase dramatically.
A professional book cover design is that first step in gaining the trust of the viewer, it shows that you respect your work and that the pages within the book are well written too, and if you have spent weeks, months or even years writing the book you owe the same respect and dedication for its cover.