(1) reflect the genre or mood of the book, and for digital books especially,
(2) no clutter
(3) big, legible fonts that can be read even when the cover is the size of a postage stamp on your Kindle.
Simple? No, I got myself into quite a funk trying to figure out which cover would be better for my next novel A HOOK IN THE SKY: a hook (in the sky of course) or a female nude (my aged protag's young lover)?
Readers of my blog know I ran a poll last week. My Twitter followers also know that a friend who runs the immensely useful site listing every day "The Best Free Kindle Books" (the "list that Amazon does not give to the Book Lover") also set up a poll presenting both my covers, plus a useful answer I had forgotten to include in my own poll: "neither" giving you the chance to answer in case you didn't like either covers. Let me take the opportunity here to warmly thank everyone who voted, that was a big help!
Results of the polls? Very interesting! On my blog, 58% of voters went for the nude - but the sample is very small, just 31 votes, so not very reliable. On The Best Free Kindle Books site, the poll was far more consistent: 122 votes, divided like this (on 4 September, when the poll was taken down after 2 days):
The Hook: 50.9%
The Nude: 23,2%
A quarter of the voters liked neither! Indeed, the nude (that had done so well on my blog) was losing out! Hey, nobody likes naked women? Just kidding!
Clearly, I needed to think up a new cover and I had to take all this into account. I turned to the comments and while I'm not going to go through all of them here - but I do want to thank all of you for making comments, it was truly most helpful! - I'd like to zero in on a particular one that seemed to reflect many others. Author Joseph Badal, whose judgment I respect, told me he liked neither cover but he said: "I liked what you wrote about Robert and the ladders. That's what I would put on the cover."
Robert (that's my protag, a cosmopolitan Frenchman who retires from the UN) certainly has a thing about ladders. Indeed, "A Hook in the Sky" is the name he gave to his art installation, a jumble of ladders reaching up to a hook. He came up with that wild idea in the hope of winning back his wife, a chic Manhattan socialite who runs a successful contemporary art gallery in Chelsea. Because, until the moment he dreamt up his Hook installation, the marriage was on the verge of collapse. It seemed that all he did with his wife was fight over art - when in fact they were fighting over their relationship. His wife loves the idea, she sees it as a symbol of the human search for something higher in life, something you reach for and can never quite grab (the hook is too far above the topmost ladder)...Will this be enough to save their marriage?
Ok, a jumble of ladders and a hook. Here's what I came up with:
Now of course, the title fonts need to be added, A HOOK IN THE SKY in the upper part, my name at the bottom. But do you like the illustration? I'd love to know what you think! Here's a quick poll to give your opinion: