fantasy book cover designer J. L. Wilson Designs

Book covers are about Marketing with a capital M. That means, it doesn’t matter if those premade book covers are the most gorgeous things you’ve ever seen. If they don’t fit your stories, they’re wrong for your books.

Now that may seem like common sense, but there is a surprising amount of nuance between subgenres that can be invisible to an author who isn’t as familiar with the market. For example, maybe the premade you’ve found has the hair color and the wings and the magic exactly the way you imagined your angel character. That means it matches, right?

Well, not necessarily.

If you’re writing a YA high fantasy story about an angel mage which has little to no romantic subplot and the premade book cover is designed to meet adult angel fantasy romance conventions, that’s the wrong cover for you. The readers most likely to pick it up will not only be looking for a major romantic plot, but likely a bit of sexual heat as well.

Which means that beautiful cover that could have done an amazing job for an adult fantasy angel romance has now set your book up to have a lot of disappointed readers, many of whom may unfortunately go on to say as much in your book reviews.

Ok, fine, so I should pay attention to how steamy the cover is. Easy. Can we get back to ogling the pretty covers now?

Not quite. 😉 Read on to see what else you should check before grabbing that premade cover, and what issues you can safely ignore.

Think twice before purchasing premade book covers if:

  1. The subgenre is wrong for your book.

I listed this first because if the premade’s subgenre is wrong for your book, nothing else matters. Don’t buy the premade. If you’re not sure how to tell if it’s the right subgenre for your book, study other books with similar stories to yours and start making lists of what their covers have in common.

What kind of title treatments are they using? What kinds of color schemes? What are some common main elements on the cover? How much of the cover do characters take up? The list goes on and on, but if you study these “lookalike” books, you will learn to spot the design trends that make up your subgenre. Until you can do that, you are much more likely to buy a premade that doesn’t fit your book.

For example, each of these covers signals angel, but none of them target the same subgenre.

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