Judging a book by its cover? 10 tips

A good book cover boosts sales, both of eBooks and paperbacks. We really do judge a book by its cover. Getting the right cover takes a huge amount of time and effort, but here are 10 tips to help you get started.

  1. Establish your style. I include colours, fonts and images that might inspire my cover – of course it’s going to be distinctive too, right! Clarity here will save you time when you start browsing designer portfolios for your shortlist, and help you avoid expensive mistakes when you brief later your designer.
  2. Look at different genres. There are definite “themes” i.e. dragons = fantasy, ladies in long dresses = historical fiction, ragged fonts = crime. Readers will make a snap judgment on the type of book based on this broad first impression, so don’t confuse them by using dragons for a romance. It is highly recommended to stay in the genre and not try anything too different to avoid accidentally losing readers.
  3. Check out any recent trends. This article looks at some key trends for 2018, although I think they should rename the page link from “trashed-7”! https://the-digital-reader.com/2017/12/06/__trashed-7/
  4. Analyse other covers to try to understand what does or doesn’t work, and why. The website https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/08/monthly-e-book-cover-design-awards/ has a monthly competition with brief comments on good and bad covers. It is well worth spending some time on, but it would be great if you could sort the designs by genre. For more detailed analysis of a few covers, I recommend this webcast https://selfpublishingadvice.org/designing-book-covers-that-sell-the-7-must-haves-derek-murphy/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=email_this&utm_source=email
  5. Research designers of covers that you like. There is no doubt this is time consuming, but at least you know what their style is and if it is in line with what you want. IMG_9250
  6. Alternatively, you can use an agency. Services like https://99designs.co.uk/book-cover-design will provide lots of options and ideas through a competition. With 99designs you set some parameters around the type of cover you want (this is where having gone through the above steps will really help you) and designers from around the world can pitch for your project. There are a range of pricing packages.
  7. DIY it. Not sure I am brave enough, but if you are more artistic than me or on a strict budget, you can design your own cover. There are lots of templates you can use. I like the simplicity of Canva https://www.canva.com, or you could look at Adobe Spark https://spark.adobe.com/make/book-cover-make. I recommend this podcast to get you started https://selfpublishingadvice.org/beginners-self-publishing-salon-podcast-designing-your-own-cover/
  8. Is it part of a series? If so, before committing to a design, it’s worth considering how you could link the covers by changing elements but keeping a recognisable link. I love these covers by Kristina Beck for the Collide series – they are clearly linked, but still different.
  9. Computer vs. physical design? It’s likely you are designing on a computer, but if you do want to go one step further, this article by Ben Denzer shows the impact incorporating physical layering can make to the final visual. http://lithub.com/secrets-of-the-book-designer-creating-something-from-nothing/
  10. Don’t panic! If you change your mind you can always relaunch with a new cover – lots of authors do. It’s particularly easy if you are indie published. With print-on-demand and eBooks you won’t even have a big pile of books in the old cover to dispose of either. Take a look at these before and after shots from the hugely successful Wool series by Hugh Howey for example!

Whatever you decide, have fun and good luck!

Featured image by Karim Ghantous on Unsplash.com – thanks!



About Lexi Reeshttp://lexirees.co.ukAuthor of adventurous books for children, horse-mad sailor and crafter, caffeine fuelled.

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