Book Cover Savvy

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Let’s say you are scheduled to give a major message to a Colosseum-sized audience. A speaking coach offers to help you to put your best foot forward. Would you accept the offer?

I’m pretty sure you would say yes.

Yet periodically I find my clients not making sure I, who am like that speaking coach, am engaged in discussing one of the most important ways their books are presented to potential readers: The cover design and back cover copy.

What’s the big deal?

The Book Cover is the Most Viewed “Ad”

Your book cover is seen by more potential readers than any other piece in your marketing portfolio. The cover conveys: the tone of your book, the intended audience, and your book’s subject. For fiction,  it should communicate the genre and the time-period, and appeal to the audience most likely to be fans.

The cover’s colors, fonts, and images all must convey one, unified message. And the back cover copy should highlight the book’s hook, while the tagline or headline should be in sync with the book’s description.

Ultimately, the front and back cover as well as the book’s spine should come together like musical instruments in a symphony performance.

What an Agent Brings to the Book Cover Conversation

An agent sees cover designs for books in every genre, for every age group, and for every audience that the agent’s clients write for. Many agents see covers for adults, teens, middle schoolers, and children of all ages. Fiction and nonfiction must be added to that list–often for both adults and children. Gift books, journals, devotionals, and sometimes even cookbooks are created under an agent’s purview.

Add all those audiences and the number of covers an agent sees, and you’ll find that an agent likely views more than 100 covers per year and sometimes more. Agents see more covers than most editors and possibly more than those in the marketing department (since fiction, nonfiction, and children’s products generally are promoted by different marketing teams). I don’t know for certain, but it’s possible an agent sees more covers than everyone at a publishing house except for the art director.

More Than Volume

Mere volume doesn’t constitute an agent possessing a knowledgeable opinion. But it does mean the agent has a lot of other covers to compare each new design to. Current design trends quickly become apparent. As do designs that fail to bring together all the elements necessary for a compelling cover.

Any agent who is thoughtfully studying designs and bringing years of seeing what does and doesn’t work, has an opinion worth considering.

How Can an Author Cash-in on the Agent’s Book Cover Savvy?

Simple. Be sure your agent is involved in your communications with your publisher whenever any aspect of your cover is discussed.

Oh, and by the way, don’t rush forward to gush over the cover design as soon as you lay eyes on it. You might discover you’re experiencing love at first sight, but your agent might see major flaws in your new love. Give your agent an opportunity to weigh in.

Whom do you turn to when you need publishing expertise? And what aspects of publishing do you ask for help?


Is your book cover the best it can be? Ask your agent. Click to tweet.

Use your agent’s book cover savvy. Click to tweet.

Busy, Busy

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: the ever busy Wendy Lawton

In case you missed it, this was Janet Grant’s announcement for the new year:

And now, for my bit of news concerning our blog. After long discussions among the Books & Such agents, we’ve

Read More