If I upset you with what follows, I regret doing so, but I am honestly speaking out in an attempt to help!
I’m on Pinterest. I’m a member of several book groups on Pinterest. And in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed something about book covers. There are more and more being shown on Pinterest that I wouldn’t, in all honesty, look twice at! It’s not the actual imagery in all cases, either, though there are some… No, the problem lies in the titles. I simply can’t read them! They are in colours so close to what they overlay that they aren’t visible, lost in the background. One thing I work hard on is a cover, and getting titles visible isn’t, as far as I’m concerned, that difficult. In fact, it couldn’t be easier! Yes, I might agonise over whether to use, say, plain white or a strong but bright yellow, but the principle of contrast isn’t difficult to understand. If you’re determined to reflect the background colours in the titles, you really do have to to use a font that allows outlining, which has to make the letters visible by using a contrasting colour. There are also certain colours that really don’t work well. Reds can be very difficult to see, for example. You also need to think how a cover will look to different people: the colour blind and the visually impaired, especially. Look at your proposed cover in negative as well as what the majority would see. If you use red titles, how do they appear to a colour blind person? Is the font so fancy that a visually impaired person would only see the stronger parts of letters but lose the detail, making the titles unreadable.
Of course, I can’t target just titles! Cover images are important. It’s better to have a plain cover, than one which will repel potential readers! There’s an increasing number of pretty standard romance novels which have what can only be described as distinctly erotic covers, presumably to enjoy the benefits of the current fashion for erotic tales. Fine. Romance can lead to the erotic. Fine, that is, if the story in the book reflects the cover! But there are many romance readers who aren’t interested in erotic novels! They are happy with the gentler, genuinely romantic covers that their favoured genre have traditionally used, and they’ll ignore those erotic covers. lost sales. I’d also question, again, the increase in the number of photographic covers in general. If photography is used, it’s better to have the images heavily manipulated to create a more artistic effect, with facial features less clear, and a ‘softer’ focus. For horror and paranormal, some of the covers look either amateurish (like stills from movies that don’t even achieve a ‘B’ grade!) while others are so graphic, they should be placed where only devotees of gore can reach them. Finally, there are some where the cover illustration is so bizarre, or muddled, or dark that it’s almost impossible to figure out what you’re actually seeing! I can’t see what benefit can be gained from such covers.
Covers need to be: descriptive/illustrative of the content; clear and intelligible; bold, bright and colourful for the youngest readers; they must have clear, readable titles that stand out from the background. I know that many authors can’t afford to buy covers, especially custom covers, but they aren’t always the guilty ones. I’ve seen covers which were ‘professionally’ designed, and which look truly dreadful! The authors using such covers have wasted their money. I have to wonder how many are actually happy with those covers, and how many use them just because they’ve paid so much to get them.
I beg authors to be more discerning in what they choose for their covers, and accept the principle of contrast for titles.