People absolutely judge books by their covers
Watch the video to see, step by step, how I make book covers quickly and at no cost using online resources. This is exactly what I would do if I were making a real cover: you get to see a bit of experimentation as I try various things to get the look I want. This makes the video a little on the long side.
What I didn't say in the video
Make your cover fit the genre for which you're writing.
Thriller covers have a different look than fantasy covers or romance covers or erotica covers. Regardless of the "heat level" of the romance in your story, you want your cover to fit the genre of your story or people will simply pass it by as they browse Amazon.
Don't put anything on the cover but:
- Author name
- Book title
- Series title, if there is one
- Log line (you should always have a log line and it's fine to use the same one for an entire series if you're writing short fiction and publishing frequently)
- A blurb (quote from another author or from a review that really helps sell the story)
- Erotica niche/kink for which you're writing (if writing erotica)
If your cover doesn't look similar to or better than other books in your genre, it's not good enough.
Don't kid yourself. You can just look at it and see if it's up to par with other covers in your genre. If you play the one of these things is not like the other game and it's your book that's the odd duck out, that's bad. Without learning some Photoshop/GIMP skills it can be difficult to create covers yourself for certain genres, like fantasy. Romance and erotica covers are easier in that they often feature text over a stock photo of an attractive model(s).
Admit it if you can't make a good cover.
Covers are too important.
You spent all this time writing your book and making it the best story you can, so don't lobotomize its sales before you even hit "publish" with a crappy cover. A shitty book with a great cover would sell better. There are premade cover services online and folks who can do one very affordably (less than $100 is cheap for a cover). Premades can be great: you tell the cover designer your title and author name and they put them on the premade cover in an appropriate, gorgeous font. Some designers will allow for minor tweaks to a premade at little or no extra charge.
If you liked this video and article, check out the next one on making teaser graphics.