What Makes For An Appealing Book Cover?

Obviously, there is no true, definitive answer for the title question. It’s the sort of question that has as many answers as there are people.



Personally, I like a few different styles. I love minimalistic covers, elegantly stylish covers (with an oldy worldy type feel to them), covers that predominantly feature no more than two colours (black and white, black and red etc …) and, for the most part, that’s what makes me look at a book and think ‘cracking cover’. There are some exceptions that are so different that I wasn’t even aware I had an interest in them. But they are few and far between.

That’s not to say a good cover equals a good book, however. I own several books where a bad story is hiding before beautiful artwork.

An example of some of my favourite covers:

The Twisted Ones

The Twisted Ones:

I love the simplistic use of the colour red against the varying shades of black and white. To me, where a good horror cover is concerned, less is more. And this one is the kind of cover that just sticks in my mind. Massively impressed with this one and, when the time comes to get cover art for my own work, I’ll certainly be asking for a quote from this artist.


shallow waters

Shallow Waters:

The cover for Crystal Lake’s flash fiction anthology ‘Shallow Waters’ volume 1 just leaps off the screen at me and, when thinking about good artwork, I often find my mind going back to this. Every aspect of the image is crafted to form either the shape of the skull or the space around it and it just looks stunning. It’s one of those that I mentioned that is not my usual thing but I didn’t know I loved that style until I saw it. Absolutely gorgeous.




This is another great example of black and white being utilized in all of its glory. The cover features aspects from the novel itself so its not just art for arts sake, it actually has relevance to the story beneath its cover. Something a lot of covers don’t do nowadays.


The blade itself

The Blade Itself:

Most of Abercrombie’s titles use this simple, yet eye-catching cover art design and I can’t help but love the covers of his books a little more every time I see them. They just look effortlessly elegant and they appeal to the ‘simplistic cover’ lover in me.



The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle:

This is probably the most simplistic example of simplicity you’ll find. It’s elegant and intriguing and has remained a favourite of mine ever since I laid eyes on it. Its about as minimalistic as you can get and, despite that, it just looks like it has so much going for it. The only bad thing about this cover is that the title has been butchered for the American market.




As you can probably tell, these minimalistic, predominantly two-colour based covers are very big favourites of mine. This is about as perfect a cover as I could ever hope to see as far as the wow factor, the relation to the content in the novel and just the visual beauty of it.


What makes a good cover for you? What aspects of cover art make you look at it in a way that’s likely to make you part with your money in order to own that book?


27 thoughts on “What Makes For An Appealing Book Cover?

    1. I was having a conversation with my friend the other day. I mentioned how a bright colour attracts my eye. Its what drew me to one of my favourite reads of the year ‘Echo Cycle’


  1. Though I rarely read a book which doesn’t have a good cover. I read them if needed but usually don’t want to read them. Bright colors with great tag lines attract me to check the blurb then author

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  2. Great post and we’re definitely opposites in this regards. My love of Patricia McKillip’s covers done by Kinuko Craft prove that πŸ˜€
    For my action books, violent intent with brutal hulking robots/things that look ultra SF works for me too (Neal Asher’s books are pretty good in that regard).

    Honestly though, a cover is the last thing I notice. With reading predominantly ebooks I almost never look at the cover until AFTER I’ve actually read the book πŸ˜€

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  3. Interesting! I never really wondered what makes a great cover for me, except that it must be aesthetically pleasing and perfected. It can be simple, it can be detailed and complex, but it must be lovingly crafted – aaand in line with the book’s contents!πŸ˜€

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    1. Think that’s a pretty good summary of what makes for good cover work to be fair.

      I got to talking to an author friend of mine. We are toying with the idea of starring our own independent publisher when he finishes his PhD so we had a lengthy chat about covers haha

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like minimalistic covers as well. If they have meaning carried by the story itself, that’s better (like the novel Soon you brought up.)

    I might have to steal this post idea and apply it to video game covers, because I think a lot of the same concepts apply there. And yeah, I’ve been burned by a nice cover hiding bad contents as well. I guess I have to at least respect the business sense of a writer who failed at what they were going for in the actual contents but managed to put it in a nice package that attracts some readers.

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  5. Just like the label of a wine, the book cover needs to feel inviting πŸ™‚ Hasn’t always been proven that the wine or the book is any good based on the label or cover though unfortunately hahahaaaa…

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  6. I always look for appealing covers when I’m hunting down upcoming releases! I love Richard Anderson’s art (The Emperor’s Blades, Kings of the Wyld) and there are a couple other artists I like as well. I’ll at least read the synopsis and see if it sounds like a good fit for me.

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  7. When you see that spine with the blacklibrary logo… you know the cover will be great, although, i have to admit regarding some of the latest stuff felt a bit β€œmeh” and some were just downright misleading(looking at Cadian Honor)… great post mate

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  8. The covers you like are darker than what i prefer. 😊 But I love It’s cover. I love everything white. I have a collection, 4 pieces, of Michael Chricton’s books and they’re all white – white with red and white with green. I love them so much. I even covered them with plastic to keep them prestine. 😍

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