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Sci-fi book covers can become so iconic that people buy them as posters for their offices and homes. If you’re working on a sci-fi novel, your book cover design should aspire to that level.

Let’s see if this recent PickFu poll clears the bar. The author asked the question, “Based on the cover, which book would you rather buy?”

Option A shows a blue-black color scheme and an intriguing eye staring out at potential readers. In Option B, the color scheme is totally white and resembles an anatomy textbook. The covers also feature different titles (which we don’t generally recommend).

Can you guess which one won?

And the winner is…Option A! With a score of 70 to Option B’s 30, the audience of 50 respondents clearly preferred the blue-black cover. Here’s why:

Captivating versus creepy

Several PickFu respondents found Option B’s all-white color scheme “creepy” and “freaky” with its “white ghost face.”

On the other hand, Option A’s “dark color and single eye….gets my attention right away,” as one reader wrote.

Several others agreed, calling Option A “intriguing” and writing that “the image of the eye drew me in immediately.”

As one respondent wrote of Option B, “White-on-white just doesn’t show anything interesting.” Others added that Option B looked “super cheap and like a ’90s 3D movie.”

That’s definitely not what you want to go for in your sci-fi book covers!

Two different titles

In addition to the bland color scheme, Option B’s title A Slipstream Fable: FutureCon did not impress PickFu respondents.

“The title PsyBot is way better than FutureCon — ‘convention’ comes to mind with the second one, and I don’t think that’s what you’re going for,” said one respondent.

Another wrote, “Choice A is easier to understand and get an idea what the book might be about. I do not understand the term slipstream fable so that does not interest me.”

In short, Option A’s title fit what readers expected the story to be about: a robot, not a futuristic convention.

Key takeaways

While the author now has an idea of which cover and title is better, it would be a good idea to follow up with independent tests of each marketing asset. In addition, these tests could be specifically targeted to fiction readers or people who tend to read at least one book a month. Our bookish survey respondents could give this author an even stronger sense of which cover to proceed with.

If you have a book cover you’d like to test with a specific audience of readers, create your own poll today!

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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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