Book cover artwork by book illustrator Duncan Long

The growing number of self-published authors and small presses has been fretted over by many in the publishing industry. Their fear/argument has been that in the past big publishers acted as gatekeepers to preserve the quality of books. They rejected poorly written work and maintained the quality of books being produced — so the argument went.

And without that gatekeeper in place, the fear was that anything could and would go into print and this anything-goes marketplace would make it impossible for buyers to determine which book was a quality read, and which would be a waste of their money.

But readers aren’t dumb.

Consumers learn quickly how best to spend their cash.

So book buyers quickly found a new gatekeeper. And this system works pretty well most of the time.

The new gatekeeper is the cover on the book. Yes, people really are judging books by their covers these days.

The quality of any given book cover tips off readers as to what the quality of the text is likely to be. A good cover almost always means a quality book is inside; a cheesy cover says there’s the high likelihood of marginal writing ahead.

This system works. Those who have the money to edit a book and who are willing to bet it will be a success also shell out the cash for a quality cover.

Publishers who slap dash their title together, who don’t want to invest time and money in creating a polished interior, will also generally cut corners on the cover work.

Buyers know this instinctively and thus seldom bother with examining a book beyond its cover (unless they recognize the author’s name or the title is super-attractive to them).

That said, a self-publisher is better served with just a nice typeface on a solid background rather than a marginal illustration or photo-stock that has little to do with the subject matter of the book. Type on a dark color can be classy and will at least make the potential buyer examine the book a little more closely to see whether or not it might be a good read.

And shelling out a little cash for a quality illustration, especially with works of fiction, can serve you even better.

Think carefully about the cover you’ll have on your book, because it’s how your book will be judged by potential buyers.

Need a quality cover illustration? I’d like to help you. Check out my book cover portfolio of my illustrations and book cover layout work to see if my style fits your needs. I love creating book cover illustrations and hope you’ll give me a chance to help you with your book project.