Cover Analysis: Cozy Mysteries

One of the two most important things when it comes to marketing your book is the cover. And it’s amazing how often I see people getting the cover completely and totally wrong. When you’re creating a cover, you want to reach your reader’s expectations. This is true in every single genre. Ever wonder why all those historical romance novels all feature a strong, topless dude holding a woman in a period dress with a backdrop of England or Scotland? Because it sells.

Sure, there are exceptions. Sometimes someone comes in with a cover that absolutely doesn’t look like anything else in the genre and it does amazingly. But guess what? Those people are one in a million. If you want your book to sell, you are much, much better off actually giving your readers what they’re looking for. There are visual clues in every type of cover that readers subconsciously associate with the type of book they want to read.

So now, let’s see how it works with cozy mysteries.

Of course, the first step to knowing what your readers expect is to look at the bestsellers in your genre. In this case, we’re looking at the cozy mysteries top 100 Kindle store list.

This is a picture of the top 18 cozy mysteries right now:

What’s the first thing you notice about these 18 top selling cozy mysteries?

For one thing, almost all of them are drawn covers.

This is huge. 13 of the 18 top selling cozy mysteries on Amazon right now have covers that are drawn, mainly in that cartoon vector style. Sure, there are exceptions. There always are. But you’re not looking at exceptions, you’re looking at the rule.

The next thing I always look at is the colours used.

In general, cozy covers tend to use bright covers, pastel colours and warm tones.

Even some of the darker covers have bright spots, like the #3 book: Southern Spirits. The cover might overall not have a ton of bright colouring, which fits the theme of ghosts and haunted stuff really well, but there’s still the bright pink/purplish text, and the female on the cover’s hair that are bright and make the cover stand out.

What kind of items feature on the covers?

In cozies, it seems to be a mix of things that the story might involve. There’s a girl holding a time capsule. A whole bunch of pets. A scene from the Australian outback. A gravestone. A cupcake. Some police tape.

But the thing that really sticks out to me in cozy mystery covers is the overall impression the items on the covers give. And here, it’s fun.

Almost every single one of these cozy mystery covers gives me the impression that the book is going to be a fun, lighthearted mystery. One of them is a bunch of kittens and a puppy sitting in a pile of grass, for crying out loud!

And finally, I always look at the fonts used on the covers. Obviously every cover is going to use a different individual font, but look at the overall styling of them.

In cozies, it’s all about the light cursive script, almost like handwriting.

These aren’t super fancy calligraphy fonts used. No, the majority of these books tend to use a lightly cursive font. Something a little bit on the “girly” side of things, but without being overly difficult to read. And they almost all use relatively bright colours for the font.

So, if I were to make a cozy mystery cover (I’ve never written the genre, though I would love to one day when I have more time) I would make sure to incorporate the following elements:

  • A vector-based cover, featuring a female (the MC) on the cover along with a background that signifies where my story would be taking place (a shopping mall, or a restaurant, maybe!)
  • A light cursive script for the cover font, in white with a bit of a drop shadow to make it stand out
  • I’d make sure the cover was bright, bright, bright! And fun!

Bright and fun. Those are the two most important words for cozy covers, as far as I’m concerned. As long as your cozy cover fits that theme, you’ve got a great advantage to make sure your cozy mystery finds the readers that are looking for your story. Give them the cover they want, a cover that catches their eye, and they will read your book.

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