Making a perfect book cover is less of a designer-problem and more of a philosophical question. There’s just a few tiny things to consider to get your book cover going.
Your book cover needs to show the theme
What that means is, it doesn’t NEED to portray exactly what’s in the story. If your story is based on a mythical creature with 10,000 legs chances are you won’t be able to design that. Even if your book is primarily based around a single character, chances are you can’t get the model for that either, and that’s fine!
Like in the images above, you’re seeing two big titles that basically do not at all explain their stories. The left one could be a Snow White parody and the right one could be a book entirely about owls. But that doesn’t matter! Because what they do well is they portray their THEME. The left one is dark and gothic, the right one is obviously some kind of fantasy.
Your book cover needs to focus on ONE subject
Think of this for a moment – when your potential reader is scrolling through Amazon or any other place, they’ll see a tiny thumbnail of your book. Your tiny thumbnail has a 1 or 2 second chance to make them click and the rest is up to your description.
What that means is, you do not need to add too many details into your book cover, just put in the main subject and have ALL of the attention on just that subject. Focus on contrast and color as well to make it stand out.
These two covers are mine, and they’re of my book Fantasia of Lorelei. I made a total of SIX book covers for this because I couldn’t get it right. I went around and looked for information about book covers and came up with everything I needed.
The book cover on the left is terrible, dark, unreadable font, too many colors clashing and even though the theme is there, the subject isn’t. Whereas the book on the right is perfect and does everything that the Twilight book cover does. It’s got a big subject, contrasting colors, portrays the theme and festiveness and the title is clearly visible.
Research other book covers
To prove my point, many other modern covers follow the same set of rules. They look good as a thumbnail, they portray the theme (not the story) and they have a main subject in them that draws your eyes to one well executed thing.
Whatever book cover that you make, just pick the subject first and work your way around that. Remember, book covers, like movies and everything else, have a set time frame to them. That means that the kind of covers that worked 10 years ago wont work anymore, and vice versa. So always take peeks around what’s selling well and just take inspiration from that.
Over and out!