4 Attributes of a Stand Out Book Cover

When you look at book covers, what usually strikes you? Almost always, it’s the dominant elements – the title, author’s name and image.

These are the obvious or most apparent elements – elements that you easily recognize.

However, book covers are more complicated than that and graphic artists would tell you that there is more in there than meets the eye.

Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.  ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince (1943)

They work at the background, are subtle, almost invisible, and can, at times, be subliminal. They play with your mind as viewer and influence how you feel, think, decide or act in ways like:

  • turn your head around or grab your attention;
  • make you curious or excited about what’s inside;
  • create a strong desire in you to explore a book some more;
  • compel you to browse the book’s table of content;
  • pique your interest to read sections of the book;
  • push you to search for customer reviews about the book;
  • nag you to buy the book;
  • compel you to buy the book.

Insane, isn’t it? But that’s true. And it always happens at both the conscious and subconscious planes.

What is in your book cover that creates these kinds of behavior?

Let’s take a peek into what makes book covers stand out.

4 Attributes of Exceptional Book Covers

What do great book covers have that set it apart from the rest? You’ll get a ton of responses on this and here’s my take.

A standout book cover has four attributes:

Attribute #1 – Appeal

It grabs attention almost instantaneously. I can use an endless stream of powerful words to describe it: dazzling, captivating, charming, attractive, handsome, beautiful, stunning, striking, entrancing, professional, wow, dynamite, lovable, cute, delicious, delightful, pleasing, magnetizing, elegant, hypnotic, inviting, great, awesome, wonderful, engaging. And on and on

How the book cover elements were used or put together effectively contributes to engendering a positive feeling of excitement, curiosity and/or desire in your target reader. They may not even know it. They simply feel it.

Attribute #2 – Simplicity

It is simple, uncomplicated and spot on. It is devoid of clutter that may repel, mislead or confuse readers and take them away from the real message, theme or content of your book.

You would see book covers that only have type or words in them, nothing else.

Attribute #3 – Uniqueness

It is different, uncommon and special. No other book cover has that “X” factor or quality.

In an ocean of romance novels or non-fiction books on productivity, yours is undoubtedly a standout.

Attribute #4 – Clarity

It is crystal clear what your book is all about simply by looking at its cover. It mirrors and/or hints at your book’s content, theme, genre or topic. At thumbnail size, your book cover is easily recognizable; its text – title and author, most especially – is highly readable.

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