Effective cover designs entice us to pick up books. Good cover designs tell us what kind of experience we can expect from the book—before we even read any text on the cover. I talked about the importance of cover design in my post on releasing books fast. I want to relaunch my cozy mystery The Task of Auntie Dido, and in this post I'm going to walk through my research process.
I plan to do my research quickly, which means I'm going to go straight to the largest bookstore. I'm going to pop over to smile.amazon.com (I have it set to support the Freedom to Read Foundation), choose "Books" in the search drop-down, and search for cozy mysteries.
The first thing I do? Scroll down the page and take in the overall sense of the designs and identify the key sections that I want to focus on.
I want to dig deeper into the category section as I research covers and check out sub-categories that might fit my book better than the general search results.
My series features a cat, C. Auguste Dupin and his librarian, Penny Copper. They first appeared in The Murders in the Reed Moore Library (available as a free download).
While I research covers for my novel, I'm also thinking about this cover and whether or not it works effectively.
The first results showing are sponsored listings. It's interesting to look at these from a marketing perspective.
Goodreads popular titles
The popular titles from Goodreads is interesting as they give a perspective on what readers expect to see in a 'cozy mystery' title.
Finally we get to the results list. On my first pass I'm looking at the covers. I want a broad perspective so I'm not focusing on details at this point. I want to take in the look and feel of books in this category. A few books catch my eye, but I'm not stopping to focus on any particular book. I don't want to copy a design!
The next page starts with a couple more sponsored titles, then back to the results again.
After scanning several pages, it's clear that many of the titles share certain things in their cover designs.
- Illustrated covers. Many (not all) of the covers feature an illustration ranging from cartoony and vector-art illustrations to pastoral paintings.
- Cats feature on the covers of many of the titles (as do books and libraries!)
- Fonts tend to be serif fonts or decorative fonts with a few sans serif fonts showing up.
- Titles are usually large, using multiple words and different font sizes or treatments.
- Many titles feature puns, word play, references to death or mystery.
- Author names tend to be smaller and use a less decorative font.
- Most covers feature bright colors
My Cover Designs
Considering those points, it looks like I got some of the features right for my initial C. Auguste Dupin release. The illustration is simple, it isn't a detailed painting but it captures some iconic features. I think the main difference is in the font selection for the title and the byline. I used a large san serif font and the title and byline both have fairly equal font sizes.
I think that the cover on the right fits the genre much better than the one on the left. I like this design much better. The main differences are changes in the fonts and the arrangement, but I think it speaks much better to the genre. What do you think? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments.
Unless I change my mind, I'll use this design to inform the design of The Task of Auntie Dido and get the new e-book set up soon!