I hang out a lot in Facebook’s various groups for memoir writers. One thing people come there seeking is a “hive mind” opinion on the cover art they’re considering for their memoir.
Should you buy an image?
One time an author on one of those Facebook pages floated a cover with a really cool image, but I did a quick search and found it online illustrating all sorts of things. My short answer for whether you should purchase an image or use one that you find on a free site like Unsplash is simply: no. If you like the image, I can pretty much guarantee that other people have liked it, bought it and used it as well.
This is your memoir about the unique you. Certainly you can come up with a unique cover.
Choosing your cover is one of the more fun things you do when you publish—not nearly as difficult as writing the whole thing! So let’s look at the trends right now for book covers in general.
There’s a broad range of looks for covers, which gives you license to accommodate your own esthetic. The variety also lets you reflect the theme of your memoir. Your cover is the first introduction to get your reader in the mood to read your book, so use the cover to represent a little of what’s inside.
Bold, vivid, colorful
If “bold” describes you, then now is your time to showcase yourself. Display the boldness through dramatic contrasts, colors that aren’t often paired or heavy fonts. Don’t forget your background—a pattern or bright solid can give your book a distinct look.
This is the opposite of bold and probably not very colorful, but it’s not dull. It’s still profound. If your memoir is quietly powerful, this could be the choice for you.
There simply is no more powerful way to draw people in than to look straight at them. If you’re a celebrity, this is an obviously good choice because you’re recognizable. But all human faces are a little irresistible. Use your image from present day or from years ago. Either way, you can be sure when you slap your own face on your book, no other book will look like yours.
Original art can be very effective. If you draw, go through your work to see whether anything connects to the topics in your memoir. Perhaps you’ve painted your self-portrait or your house growing up—anything like that could be perfect. But you may have something in mind like a soaring eagle, hovering butterfly, empty chair—a creature or object that you identify with. It might be worth your time to pay a decent artist to draw your vision.
You can always use an image of a mountain, beach, field, lake or bustling city. If some natural surrounding complements your book’s theme, this can work well enough. Perhaps pair it with a distinct font for your title.
You can use an object that plays an important role in your memoir, or you can just try to be clever in some way. I think this fails more than it succeeds, but when it works it can be amazing.
Write My Memoirs can help
Typically, our Write My Memoirs authors are less interested in selling their book than in leaving something for their family. They tend to choose a photo of themselves from the prime of their life, the way people remember them. But we can work with you on any cover of your choice. Just as every story is unique and crafted with thoughtfulness, so should every cover have exactly the perfect look.