We all know that book covers are important. Imagine a person, who is the embodiment of your target audience, as they walk through a bookstore or library. Depending on how big of a library, this person can pass by hundreds of books in a matter of seconds, not once finding a book of their liking. What is going to make the reader stop to look at your book? *SPOILER ALERT*, the answer is the cover. The cover is the very first thing that your audience sees. The cover is what draws the reader in so it is crucial to spend extra time on it. However, before you start blowing money on a fancy looking design, read the following nine facts that everyone should know about book cover design.
1. Too much of a good thing is still too much
Yes, you want to catch your reader’s attention, however, you do not want to overdo it. Believe it or not, attention grabbing and flashy are two very different things. The purpose of a book cover is to convey the theme or purpose of your story in an eye-catching fashion, but that does not mean that your book needs to scream your story in flashy fonts and lucid imagery.
2. Attachment can be a real deal killer
Some authors bring along deeply personal pictures with the idea that it would be a great way to portray their autobiography or memoir. Sometimes this can help draw in an audience and portray the theme without screaming at them for attention. However, this doesn’t work out well for everyone. Before you publish your book, be ready to accept the fact that it may not be successful. Be open to comments and suggestions (although you should only make changes upon the request of professionals).
3. Remember that your book will be viewed at thumbnail size
With websites like Amazon, buying books and eBooks online is the bright, new wave of the future. Since most people shop on their smartphones, it’s important to remember that your book will most likely appear as the size of a thumbnail to potential customers when they scroll through the results. If you think you’ve decided on the final design, shrink it down to thumbnail size and see if iou hones, it’ography or memoir. However, t is still up to your standards. If your design looks like a jumbled mess, think about taking a few elements out of your design.
4. Do not spoil your story
Authors sometimes spoil their own story by adding too much information on the cover. The best part about reading a book is learning about the character as the character learns about themselves to overcome a great obstacle. If your protagonist is an alien prince with the ability to shoot ice from his fingertips, who must battle a massive eight-headed dragon to rescue the human love of his life, do not put a scene of a green man with a crown on his head, shooting ice from his hands, with an eight-headed monster holding a damsel in the distance.
5. You need to follow the rules
Believe it or not, book covers are not a care-free art design project. There are guidelines and there are rules that you must consider while you are designing your cover. Cover images must have a high resolution of at least 300 PPI (DPI). The most important thing to remember is that your images cannot be copyrighted. The use of owned images can greatly jeopardize the publication of your story. Avoid this issue by hiring a designer, using licensed images, or submitting your own images. Make yourself aware of all technicalities and copyright laws before you submit a cover design.
6. Always try to aim for a hook
A story must have a hook to keep the reader interested and so should the cover. Although you should never reveal the full premise of the story, revealing the hook in the cover can be extremely successful. Books with vague or safe images can sometimes be seen as boring or dull, but revealing a tiny piece of the story while being as objective as possible, is a sure way to catch your audiences’ eye.
7. You need to understand the publication method
Are you going through a publisher? Is your story going to be in physical circulation or is it going to be sold electronically? Will it be an ebook? Will it be for the kindle? All of these different methods will greatly affect the design of your book. Whether you like it or not, publishers have much say over the design and they have the authority to change whatever they deem necessary. You have the sole responsibility to decide on the final cover whenever you self-publish your book, which means that you need to make sure that the images are not illegal and your cover is legible at thumbnail size.
8. There are thousands of freelance book designers on the internet
Do you have a design in mind but don’t know what the next step is? The internet is your friend! Thousands of artists are out there, freelancing their services for a variety of prices, willing to take your idea and turn it into a reality. However, be cautious about who you trust your money with. The rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for. If the freelancer is offering great services at a cheap price, they may not deliver the same quality of work as a higher priced freelancer.
9. It’s best to go with a professional
The way to a successful book cover is simple; hire a professional graphic designer. Avoid putting too much of yourself and personal attachment into your book cover by hiring an expert with an unbiased eye.
With the facts above you are now one step closer towards creating a successful book cover that draws in your desired audience, hooks the reader and properly introduces the theme without giving away too much of the story.
I love to go places I’ve never been, try things I’ve never done, and get better at the things I love doing everyday. Striving to expanding my knowledge, awareness, and experience remains my focus and when I’m not on the computer chipping away at this brick of ice my time is spent reading, cooking, hiking, traveling, learning, being with family, brainstorming, listening to music, researching, the list goes on …
I attended school at Central Michigan University in 2013 but after 2 months I decided to drop out and pursue book cover design full-time. Currently I operate out of Grand Rapids, Michigan and have been living here for the past 20 years.