Think of your book cover like the initial impression given on a first date. On the date, do you want to appear sloppy and wear a haphazardly thrown together ensemble? Not if you want to see your date ever again. Book covers need to be attractive while also conveying what your novel is about.
Have you ever avoided a book because of the cover? Many readers will be turned off by amateurish looking covers. I personally have skipped a few books despite rave reviews because of covers. It’s presumptuous, but I figure the writing and plot will be as unappealing as the front image.
If you’re self-publishing and have no idea about cover creation, consider hiring someone. There are graphic artists who will design gorgeous covers for you from scratch. Give them some conceptual information to work from and be an active part of the process. Also, there are book marketing companies that have pre-made book cover designs for sale. Browse through their catalogs to see if you find any suitable to your novel.
If you’re comfortable working with photo editing software and want to do your book cover on a budget, then you can make one yourself. Before you go down this road, make sure that the images you use meet the specifications for book retailers. For instance, paperback covers made through Createspace require a minimum resolution of 300 dpi.
Start out with an image. Stock photography images can be purchased online or you can use your own personal photo library as a starting point. Choose an image that represents your book. Girls in pretty dresses are a popular choice, but don’t always relate to the content inside of the novel. Choose a couple of selections before making your final decision. Play around with fonts and colors when adding title and author name. Show a few mock-ups to friends and fellow writers to receive feedback on which one to settle on.
Don’t use a cover for your book unless you love it. With an attractive cover, you’ll gain readers who are interested in the novel based solely on the front image. This will build readership and ideally help increase your fanbase.