When you pick up a book the first thing that catches your eye is the cover art, and the title. If these two things do not apeal to you then it is less likely for you to read the blurb on the back, or take a moment to read the first couple of pages.
The art should reflect, and work well with, the title.
It is incredibly easy to get actual, profesional cover art for your book that there is absolutly no excuse to use a big red box with letters on it, unless your story is about a big red box. I know you drew it yourself, but if it doesn’t give me an idea of what is in the book. I will probably pass it up for something a bit shinier on the outside.
They say “don’t judge a book by its cover” but really, most people do. The cover of your book is the very first impression anyone gets of it. They look at the cover and say ‘oh, spaceships’ or ‘a river, must be about a camping trip’, or magic, or sex. Really, your cover art sells the theme of your story.
Coverart can be aquired through the many thousands of artists that frequent Deviant Art, freelance forums, or even Reddit. There are even premade, free, covers on Deviant Art already ready for your use. Many artists only want a free e-book for their troubles. Others, the ones who actually make a living from their art, or are trying to just like you are trying to make a living from your writing, will sell you a cover. (Please remember to always contact the artist, read their rules, ask and/or let them know, BEFORE you use their art.)
The second thing people will look at is the title.
Titles are often based on something important to the story.
- Main Character (Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Dracula, Frankenstein)
- A group of people (Fellowship Of the Ring, Jason and the Argonaughts)
- Main Theme/quest (Star Wars, On Writing, Quest for the Holy Grail,)
- Location (Serenity, Bridge to Terabithia, Africa, Matrix)
- Subject (Swamp Thing, Zombie Survival Guide)
- Or a combination (Anne of Green Gables, Shawn of the Dead)
- A Concept (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Pride and Predjudice)
Pick out the things that are the most important in your story. People, places, subject. Now brainstorm around those themes. It always helps to have something that is in the same tone as your book. Scary for horror, funny for a comedic piece, futuristic for a sci-fi.
Sometimes the title seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the story, such as “A Clockwork Orange” or “To Kill a Mockingbird”. If the title is off beat enough it may draw someones attention enough to get them to read the preview, like “The Universe Doesn’t Give A Flying Fuck About You” (which is a motivational, surprisingly.)
Covers and titles are almost as important as the first page. If they look at the cover and it doesn’t grab their attention long enough to get them to pick it up and read that first paragraph (or online click the ‘see inside’ button) then it never gets out the door.