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  • Book Cover: 10 Tips to Design a Great Cover

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    Books - Perfect Bound, Self-publishing

    Two aspects of your book that initially capture the attention of readers more than anything else are the title and the appearance of the book cover. The color palette, font styles and graphic elements should blend into a compelling visual magnet that will draw the right readers to your book with hints at your book’s contents.

    A book cover plays a pivotal role in getting readers to give your book a chance, so putting enough time, effort, and skill into book cover design pays off for every author but especially for a self-published writer who is responsible for every aspect of their book.

    Is Using a Cover Design Expert Worth It?

    While self-published authors may be talented writers, they may not know how to craft a winning book cover design. For some writers, engaging an expert cover designer takes the pressure off so they can focus on their area of expertise, writing.

    Book cover experts are trained in combining design principles and literary genre standards to develop a book cover design that will make an author’s work stand out from other titles while still adhering to genre expectations. This relatively minimal investment by self-published authors is often well worth it for a beautifully designed book cover that attracts the right readers to their books.

    Book Cover Design Tips

    These 10 tips can help you craft the best book cover for your work that will capture the uniqueness of your work while still fitting into genre standards so your potential readers will know what to expect when they open the pages of your book.

    #1 Learn the Genre

    Before beginning, writers should conduct market research on their genre. Not only will you learn what readers expect to see on the shelves, but you will also learn what types of covers attract readers and how different themes and story motifs affect cover design.

    • Look through online platforms like Amazon or Goodreads to review and make notes of the common designs, colors, and font choices. Review current book selections of your genre or subgenre to grasp the overall feel of books readers are seeing right now.
    • Visit booksellers to experience the physical attributes of your genre’s books. Make a note of details like book size, typography, and book design.
    • Think about current cover trends. In 2023, some popular looks for books included minimalistic pop art, big type over busy backgrounds, and bold flower designs.

    #2 Look at the Top Sellers

    Once you have a good understanding of what book covers look like in your genre, take a closer look at the most popular books on the market. These top sellers can give you inspiration on dealing with the themes your work may likely include, so take note of how they are expressed visually. Amazon Best Sellers is an excellent resource for viewing covers of top sellers as well as sites like Book Cover Archive or Cover Browser where authors can look at past and current covers in many different genres.

    Look at what they do well and how you can integrate the same principles into your cover design without replicating a current cover. Think about what you like and don’t like so your design will ultimately reflect your book’s contents, current trends, and what readers expect to see in your genre.

    #3 Identify Key Concepts for Your Cover

    Once you have studied the book covers that your readers will see next to yours on the shelf, begin the design process by identifying the themes and motifs your book includes. Since an effective cover hints at what is inside, your design should include elements that give readers an idea about the contents of the book.

    The cover’s graphics, colors, and overall feel should match the primary theme or motif of the story, so readers aren’t put off by a cover that misrepresents the book’s genre. Consider how the thematic elements are presented in the book, taking into account the audience and setting so you can reach the right reader with your cover design.

    #4 Put Together a Book Cover Brief

    The next step in designing a cover is to develop a comprehensive document that will bring together the elements to create an effective and unique cover design. Called a book cover brief, this checklist of information will help the book cover designer make sure that every necessary piece of content is included in the creative development process.

    • A summary of the book’s genre, a short story synopsis, the book’s prevailing themes, and a main character overview.
    • The target audience for the book as well as the demographics of the target market.
    • Author brand identity information.
    • A mood board to show color palette inspiration and the overall feel of the cover.
    • Specific copy to include on the cover like the title, subtitle, author name, tagline, reviews, or other text.
    • Dimensions and details about the book type and size, cover type, and where the barcode and ISBN information should be located.
    • The deadline for the final draft of the cover design as well as dates for check-ins and design reviews.
    • Budget information for graphic design or cover design expert work.
    • Examples of book covers that you love and don’t love, with explanations, to spark the creative process.

    #5 Choose Font and Color Palate

    Decide on a color scheme that represents your thematic elements well and choose primary and secondary colors. Select two or more fonts to utilize on the cover: one for the title and author name and another complimentary one for the rest of the text.

    Be sure to look at genre norms to help readers instantly understand where your book fits in the literary world by choosing a font similar to other books within your genre. Since color is closely tied to emotion, the right color scheme can enhance and support the genre and theme of your book.

    • Mystery books feel right with dark, moody colors like black, gray or red.
    • Sci/fi stories look great with bold, bright colors and strong combinations like black and yellow.
    • Historical fiction may be a good partner for natural hues, evoking past eras.
    • Romance stories are often depicted with soft tones and pastels.
    • Children’s books typically employ bright primary colors and bold combinations.

    #6 Consider Design Principles

    A book’s cover should provide readers with a quick capture of key information. Visual hierarchy determines where a reader’s eyes go when they glance at the cover, so make sure that the most important information is up high while the more text-dense content is lower. The title should be placed high on the front cover.

    The author’s name should be situated directly below the title or subtitle. The cover should feel balanced between the use of text and graphic elements. Color or white space can help graphic elements stand out on a cover design.

    #7 Pick Title Style

    Readers should be able to grasp the title and author’s name at a glance, so choosing the right font size and presentation of the title and any subtitles determine if they can do so.

    Font Size

    You want your title readable even down to thumbnail size, so choosing the right size and placement of your title can mean the difference between a potential reader seeing your book’s title or missing it. Hard to decipher, overly detailed or too-fancy fonts can prove unreadable when shrunken down.

    Spacing

    Keep visual hierarchy as a primary element when determining where your title and author name should land on the cover. Negative space can be a powerful element, helping to draw the eye toward the most important visual elements.

    #9 Don’t Forget the Back Cover

    The front cover has the most visual impact, but the back cover is the hardest working part of the outside of a book. Consider including any or all of these components on the back of your book.

    • Author Spotlight
    • Author Awards
    • Book Summary
    • Graphic Elements
    • ISBN Number and Barcode
    • List Other Books or Publications by the Author
    • Book Reviews or Author Endorsements

    #10 Ask For Feedback

    As your design process unfolds, don’t create the cover in a vacuum. Feedback can help you craft a cover that readers will respond to, so make sure that you seek input from a variety of people.

    Personal: Your friends and family can offer you insight into your design, especially if they are a fan of the genre.

    Literary: Feedback from other authors, especially those in your genre, can help you identify problematic details that a casual reader might miss.

    Expert: If you are designing the cover yourself without the help of a cover designer, consider seeking feedback from an expert during the development process. Their trained eye can help you make adjustments that can turn a good cover into a highly appealing one with just a few tweaks and design tricks.

    Printing Your Book

    A gorgeous cover is the best way to help attract the attention of a potential reader. Once your design is nailed down, partner with a trusted printer like Dazzle Printing so your book will look fantastic when it is time to get it into the hands of your readers.

     

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