You’re selfpublishing and you’re designing your own covers too, crafting each one with the same love and patience you put into its story? Great.
The sad thing is that none of your potential readers will look at your cover this way. None will be savouring every fine little detail you added and knowingly be appreciative of the subtle color choices you’ve made. That’s not how it works.
A reader will only look at your cover if you convinced him/her to click its thumbnail first. To make a reader click this thumbnail is probably the hardest part of your cover’s job.
All of your potential future readers will barely glance at your amazing cover in the form of a tiny, tiny thumbnail. And they will be looking at it for a few seconds at most, while scrolling through dozens of others ebook covers suggested to them by Amazon or whoever else they’re shopping for ebooks.
Most of your potential future readers won’t notice your amazing cover at all.
That’s fine, you just want to make enough of them hesitate and click on your cover in order to know more about your book and the story it tells.
A couple seconds, that’s not much. Better be certain your cover stands out.
How do you do that? Beside basic design tricks I won’t be discussing here (you’ll find many online, depending the genra you’re writing in), there is one simple thing that helps a lot:
Look at your cover the same way your reader looks at it. Aka, look at your cover as an always too small thumbnail, and most of the time as a grayscale thumbnail too — many people do read on an e-reader and they see suggestions or look for the next read on its grayscale display, not on the latest, brightest and biggest HiDPI/retina display with its amazing colors.
As a thumbnail. Size does matter, sorry. But this time the bigger is not always the better. Look at your cover as a thumbnail approx. the size you look at other ebooks when broswing Amazon on their website, in their reading app and on the Kindle e-reader itself. Forget the hard work you put in your cover and honestly ask yourself these questions: as a thumbnail, is my cover simple enough to be understood at a glance, or is it a mess of confuse and tiny details that makkes it unreadable? Does the illustration still make sense whan viewed at such a small size (who cares if the dragion has diamond teeth if one can barely make it’s a dragon on yoru cover)? Is the title of the story readable or should you use a simpler/cleaner font? BTW, unless you’re already well-know don’t focus too much on your author’s name readability on the cover — my poor Dulcinea von Liebe doesn’t sell much on her name alone, but a good cover always helps no matter the author’s name ;)
In grayscale. How does the thumbbnail and the full size cover look on a Kindle or on any re-reader? Is the title easy to read in gray? What about the illustration? Not relying on colors at all can change a lot of things in an image.
Was my title a clickbait? Maybe. We can all agree this trick should be obvious to anyone that has ever purchased an ebook but looking at so many covers, one can only wonder why so many selfpublished authors (and a few traditional publishers too) seem to not be using it at all.
Quickly preview images in grayscale in Inkscape
I do my cover in Inkscape. It’s easy to check how your cover looks in gray while you’re designing it. No need to waste time exporting the image or using etxensions.
Press Alt+F5 (Shift+Alt+F5, if your keyboard has no numpad) to switch between Inkscape’s color mode and grayscale. That’s it.