Imagine, for a moment, that you want to buy yourself a doughnut.

You find two bakeries, and browse the windows to decide which one to go into. One shop has fresh paint, the scent of warm bread flowing out into the street. The brightly lit window is laden with pastries and pies laid out in neat rows, the glaze shining, the sugar glistening. As a shop worker leans into the window, picking up a pastry with a pair of tongs, they look up at you and smile.

You wander to the other bakery window, leaning forward to peer into the gloomy interior. The shop front is battered and peeling, the smell of car fumes clings to it. A line of dead flies and wasps are pushed up against the window inside, and a few pastries are strewn, haphazardly, across a stained and torn sheet of baking paper.

Where will you be buying your doughnut today?

Now imagine you’re going for a job interview.

It’s a job you really want; you’ve polished your CV, worked on your portfolio, and know the history of the company better than the CEO does. Are you going to turn up there with your hair unbrushed, your jumper displaying a stain from last night’s take-out, and your old trainers with the sole hanging off? No? Why not?

Because you know that first impressions count. And you understand the importance of that first impression being a good one.

When readers are browsing the likes of Amazon, looking for their next favourite author, your book is up against thousands, even millions of others in the same category. What do you have to catch that reader’s attention? Not a lot. A thumbnail image of your cover, the title, the price, the rating.

If they’ve got thousands of books to browse they’re likely to be scrolling pretty fast. So, it largely relies on that thumbnail image. And a thumbnail image, by its nature, is very small. Even more so if your reader is browsing on a tablet or their mobile phone.

So, you see, your cover image is vital. It shouldn’t be an afterthought, it shouldn’t be a case of ‘that’ll do’ or ‘whatever’.

And forget that old adage about not judging a book by its cover, because everyone does, both literally and metaphorically.

Your cover is your shop front, it’s your first impression. People will judge your book on it, and they will judge you on it. That’s just the way life is.

Check back for Story Worms: Keep It Covered (Part 2) for the decisions you need to make, essential top tips, and, most importantly, where to get a professional-looking cover without spending a small fortune.

About Angeline Trevena

Angeline Trevena is a British dystopian horror author. The first book in her Paper Duchess series, The Bottle Stopper, was published in 2015, and her short stories appear in various anthologies and magazines. The most unlikely of horror writers, Angeline is scared of just about everything, and still can't sleep in a fully dark room. She goes weak at the sight of blood, can't share a room with a spider, but does have a streak of evil in her somewhere. Find out more at www.angelinetrevena.co.uk

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