Designing Your Book Cover

There are so many facets of designing a successful book cover – considerations galore!

  • Is it part of a series?
  • Who is going to read it?
  • Fiction/non-fiction?
  • Is it part of an existing brand?
  • Is it an extension of you and your business?
  • For retail or business purposes?

Once you have developed your overriding considerations, such as those above, now it comes down the elements of the design in order to successfully connect with your audience. I believe it is good practice for an author to have some ideas and concepts – essentially some visions in their head (some may even put it down on paper or play around with a design program of some type…).

Here is a list of 5 key objectives (inspired by the Book Designer) that should help when it comes time to design your cover:

  1. Announce its intended use or genre—Fiction/non-fiction, business, mood/emotion? This is very important for genre fiction, but it’s equally important for any book to be clear right away about exactly what kind of book it is. This seems to me to be the first concern of the cover designer.
  2. Telegraph its tone—Make sure it’s not “just another book in that category…”  Particularly important for business/non-fiction books, where often your book will be compared to others in the category.  A cover can give you an idea of the author’s perspective or voice in many subtle ways.
  3. Explain its scope—Mostly for nonfiction. Understanding the extent of the book’s subject helps to define its target market.
  4. Generate excitement (the “hook”)—Let’s face it, book covers are a subspecies of advertising design, and they can be powerful sales tools. But if nothing about the cover stops people, or evokes instant interest, fascination or curiosity, it can’t accomplish its aims.
  5. Establish a market position—This is almost the sum of all the other goals listed here. Taken together, they establish the exact space we see the book occupying amongst all the other books that address the same topic.
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