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The most appealing fiction book covers may come down to personal preference: color, typography, imagery. That’s why it’s smart to poll a group of dedicated fiction readers because you’ll likely get answers based on plot, setting, genre, character, and structure.

One author tested book covers on PickFu to a targeted audience of 50 fiction readers. Which of the two covers would make them want to buy the book more?

Option A shows a mysterious woman peeking through a fancy mirror frame. Red swirls (perhaps blood?) highlight the silvery frame.
Option B is completely different, with a flame illuminating an illustration of a woman. A cloaked person hunkers below the flame.

Can you guess which one won?

And the winner is… Option A! With almost double the votes that Option B received, Option A was the clear favorite. Here’s why.

Fiction book covers should match the title

With a silver-edged mirror and that deep red swirl, Option A’s cover seemed more mysterious and appropriate.

Respondents loved how the cover matches the book’s title, A Bloodline’s Echo. One respondent gave a perfect breakdown when he said, “A Bloodline’s Echo implies it may be a story about a familial lineage. There’s the literal crimson dashes that look like blood. There’s also an expensive-looking mirror that looks like it could be a unique family heirloom.”

(It’s possible that your average non-reader would’ve noticed these connections, but it’s not probable!)

Another fiction-loving respondent added that “[Option A] gives more of a sense of mystery, suggesting a deeper plot [than Option B].”

Even though the covers are for the same book, Option A’s cover better hints at important themes and characters throughout the story.

Fiction book covers can sometimes be embarrassing to hold

Have you ever tried to hide the cover of a book you’re reading because you think people will make fun of you? (Guilty!) According to one respondent, Option B’s cover is too “cheesy and embarrassing to be seen reading.”

Option A, however, is not. One respondent said, “[Option A’s] cover looks more intriguing and classical. It looks like there is a more elaborate and sophisticated story” within the covers.

If you’re designing a cover for your book, make sure it’s one your readers would be proud to display!

The typography style should hint at the story

While Option B features a more modern font with a blur on the word Echo, most respondents preferred Option A’s curly but still easily readable script.

One respondent said that the font in Option A looks “a lot more elegant” than Option B’s font. The more elegant font matches the elements of the story featured on Option A’s cover: the fancy mirror, the blood, and the mysterious girl.

Key takeaways for your fiction book cover

Make sure that the color scheme you use matches the themes of your story — especially if those themes are featured on your cover. And while you’re working on that, also remember to use a font that complements both the color scheme and the story’s themes.

Always remember to create a cover that any fiction reader would proudly read on a subway.

Do you want to know which of your book cover designs readers will like the most? Create a poll on PickFu! You can ask fiction or non-fiction readers, e-book readers or audiobook listeners, or people who read lots of books every month!

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Laura Melchor

Laura Ojeda Melchor (she/her) is freelance writer whose work has appeared in Parents.com, Mom.com, Gardener’s Path, and of course, PickFu. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut middle grade novel, Missing Okalee, comes out from Shadow Mountain Publishing in the fall of 2021. Find her online at lauraojedamelchor.com.

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