Do I have to pander with my cover?
"To make a cover for your book, look for covers on popular books in the same genre." This advice wouldn't be a problem if all the covers for popular Isekai on Amazon weren't either pinup shots of questionably-legal-aged anime girls or smiling lolis. My story has a 35 year old American protagonist, and while sexuality is a part of the story, it's not supposed to be the main selling point.
It seems like the genre calls for suggestive (or at least "moe") cover art in order to sell books. I could easily create a relevant, "sexy" anime-style cover... but I also hate having to pander to an audience and feel like it wouldn't turn out very well.
What do you think? Would creating a more "typical" cover get me more hits?
UPDATE: I was bored, and this is terrible. I bet people would pick it up, though.
Yes, but also pls no?
What the cover should be is largely determined by what would be appropriate to your book, as well as what type of audience you want to attract. If you’re writing “cheap entertainment” a clickbait cover would be more appropriate, since the people you’re attracting fit well with the experience you’re providing, and readers know the mindset of the exchange going in.
If you’re writing something more contemplative a “pretentious” cover might work better. The cover affects what expectations readers have going in, and it affects how well you attract the people with the appropriate interests in your story. The cover change might be more appropriate.... but might not. I don’t know your story, and that cover is telling me your story is a very particular type of interest, while your other cover is more something else and maybe a little more sterile feeling.
So who knows. Go for it if you want.
I am reminded of all those horrendously generic JP LNs with the exact same inoffensively boring protagonist with his dark hair, thin body of indeterminate age, surrounded by busty and/or flat chested anime girls with floofy dresses or animal ears (or an actual animal). A lot of those mind-numbingly bland stories have made their authors a lucrative career just by using the same cover art formula as the rest.
That's not to say that other kinds of cover art mean your story will fail no matter what, but people really do judge a book by its cover, even if they pretend they don't. It all depends on what you want, but even if you don't keep everyone you 'baited' into reading, you will still keep some. If you feel like splurging, there are always thirsty artists clamoring for commissions. You might not get the creme of the crop, or be able to afford [highly respected artist flavour of the month], but that doesn't mean cheap artists are trash.
But I know it can be hard to find the funds, but just think about it.
Heck, here's the cover of one of the books in one of my favorite series, a master-class in BAITING. Guess what the story is about! Spoiler: it's actually about space ship battles and not rooty tooty point and shooty adventures, so the cover is a total LIE, the author even mentions this in a cheeky bit of sarcasm in his story.
That said, you are writing anime, and the people who read that tend to have formulas and preconceived notions on the brain.
Why not perform a test. Go outside, take the most boring picture you can... your car, a mailbox, the road a sunset, and use that as your cover for a few weeks. If you get more reads than what you are getting now then you can be sure that the cover you are using is turning people off.
So if you write a campy story, the cover should be campy. If you write an adventure story, your cover should convey adventure. If the focus is the brooding MC who is all on their own, then just put a character in a dark room. :P
Having an actual artist is a big plus, though. May cost a bit, but people quickly connect "good cover" with "effort and high quality writing" and are more likely to check your story out, even if it's bad outside the usual "I dislike this kind of story". There are enough stories that prove that. ^^'
It doesn't show any personality. White and black are hard clashes, in this case, it's not used at all (is great to accent opposites, extremes, and other sorts of contraries). Changing the color to blue and yellow would allow for a better contrast that's more pleasing to the eye, and each color comes with its own personality and feeling. While I don't say that every cover should be fully used, in this case, the emptiness above and below the symbols also doesn't seem to have a purpose. You could add a frame to the symbols to give it a more hyroglyphic or gamey feel or maybe make the symbols bigger and interlock...
You can use the one you made above, it may have a greater effect, but I don't know if you want to convey the messages I get from it (also, the boob seems a bit off, at first I had to wonder if I see the front or back, because the line of the back in conjecture with the boob's shape suggested both).
I would also work on the blurb. Hard to break it to you, but the moment I read it was "so basically every Gamelit-story". Every story has something unique to it and it should make it into the blurb.
Work on the cover and blurb and with time, things should become better. ;)
Also, this is the digital age, and so you are allowed to change your cover multiple times. Why not change it a couple times and see what people think? Try the joking fanservice cover for a couple days and see if your numbers mysteriously get way higher lol
I know I am a terrible human for judging a book by its cover, but I (unfortunately) judge books by their cover's all the time! How else can I make a quick judgment about something where I have an insane amount of choice? The other commenters here are right. Your cover needs to tell me what your book is about in a quick visual way. If I see a book with a male, and two sexy females draped on his arms, I know I am probably getting a harem book. By looking at their clothes I can quickly tell what genre: Fantasy, sci-fi, modern-day, etc. A good cover helps the prospective reader make a snap judgment. On the other hand, some successful authors have terrible covers. I love B.V. Larson's Undying Mercenaries series, but his covers are atrocious. He just has ultra generic pictures of space ships when 80% of his books take place on planets and feature almost no space combat. So maybe what do I know?
P.S KentusRPG's amazing covers and great title ( "I hate being wed in a Fantasy World"), made my click on the link and add the series to my already crazy long "to read" pile, so there is that. hah