In the literary world, people will likely judge a book by its cover. Whether they’re walking through a bookstore or browsing through Amazon, people often pass by so many books that it’s hard for any one cover to catch their attention. This is why your book cover design is the most important tool you have when it comes to capturing a reader’s interest.
Why is a book cover design important?
Let’s look at an example to understand this better. Fiction writer Martin Lake saw very few sales when he first released his Lost King series. After some time of experiencing low sales, he decided to change the cover design for his first book. This led to a massive increase in sales for not one, but rather all three books in the series.
This one simple move on the author’s part led to a significant change in the way readers saw his books. From this, we learn about how much visual design matters when it comes to selling books. A reader is only likely to open your book if they like what’s on the outside.
If you’re a self-published author, your responsibility extends beyond writing and publishing your work. You are also the brand manager and marketer for your own book. It is your duty to make sure you’re appealing to the right audience. The first step to ensuring that is through an optimal book cover.
We’ve listed down some of the best tips and tricks for you to design the perfect cover for your self-published work.
1. Choose a theme that resonates with the genre of your book
The first thing you need to note down before designing your book cover is the theme you want. For this, think about the genre of your book. Does it fall into fiction, fantasy, romance, or nonfiction? And does the genre in question have an established theme you can use? Most of these genres have styles for cover designs that were established a long time ago.
Make sure your book cover has elements that readers can commonly associate with the genre of your work. Make the internet your best friend and look for some common design themes for your genre. If you’re going for gothic fiction, look up other cover designs with a similar theme. Note down which thematic elements that are most common among best selling books. Look up the ideal color scheme for your cover. The key here is to use commercial design that sells and add your own unique spin to it.
2. Figure out what needs to be emphasized
Every book has that one central element that a reader can directly associate with it. This element is what makes the book stand out among a mass of other copies in your reader’s Amazon or Goodreads list. It could be the book title, an engaging visual, or a short, enticing blurb on the front cover.
Mark Manson chose to go simple with his cover design of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by focusing only on the boldness of the title against a bright but plain background. Alternatively, Anne Micheals chose a deeper element for her book All We Saw: Poems by showcasing a single black and white hand reaching down, which captures the sombre nature of the book itself.
Pick an element that you want directly associated with your book. It could be as simple as a single wilting rose, or a bold phrase that stands out on the cover. If you’re thinking of writing a sequel, use a symbol that you can play around with on each book cover. Author Suzanne Collins chose a simple bird for her original cover of The Hunger Games, which she then used to symbolize freedom and flight as each sequel was released.
3. Avoid adding clutter
The worst attribute a book cover can have is a cluttered design. When you have too much going on in terms of imagery, color, and fonts, it often results in visual noise that confuses a reader. Your aim should be to bring focus to the core message of your book cover design.
Make sure you’re using images and fonts that compliment each other. To make your book cover design less cluttered and more focused on the main elements, follow these steps:
- Space out letters to add emphasis to the main title.
- Use white space to bring focus to the central design.
- Align your text and imagery so that both are clearly visible in a thumbnail.
- Use a color palette that goes better with the theme you’ve set.
These elements may seem difficult to control, but creating your own book cover is easier than you think. With design tools like PosterMyWall’s book cover maker, you can choose the dimensions that suit your book cover, and add in the elements of your choice to create a book cover unique to your preferences.
4. Be smart about your title
The title is what entices a reader to click on your book and read the excerpt. The ideal title should be catchy, descriptive yet subtle, and noticeable on the front cover.
The book title is what a reader will search up on the internet to find your book, so it needs to be clearly visible on your front cover. When publishing online, your book cover often appears as a thumbnail on sites like Amazon. You need to make sure that your title is visible enough to be read in all digital variations of your cover.
Use the right font for your title. With digital tools, you often get a large variety of graphics and typefaces to use on your design. But you need to be careful about whether your font matches the theme you want to portray.
Remember that words are part of your visual aesthetic as well, so be careful about how you add them to your cover design. Tara Westover uses a simple, serif font to emphasise her title for her nonfiction book Educated, while Ilana C. Myers adds a stylish touch to the title of Fire Dance, her fantasy novel.
5. Look for inspiration online
Get some inspiration by looking up famous book covers by other authors in your genre and see what elements they have used to gain traction. Note down the common elements you see and try to incorporate these into your own design.
The ideal place to start looking for design inspiration would be the New York Times Bestsellers list so you can see common characteristics shared by the most popular books in your genre.
There are countless resources available online as well that will help you navigate your way through your design process. Look through marketing and design blogs on designing optimal book covers to figure out how you can get started on creating your own design.
Once you’ve scoured the internet for inspiration, move onto the design process by looking into the wide range of templates and designs available online. With modern technology, you don’t have to worry about creating anything without help. Online design tools like PosterMyWall offer a large variety of book cover design templates to get you started. With specific categories dedicated to genres like Romance and Thriller, you can pick up a template of your choice and customize it according to your preferences at little to no cost.
Once you’re done with your book cover, consider creating a complimentary bookmark to assist you in your marketing effort and build hype around it. Use the bookmark maker to get started.
Choosing the optimal design for your book can be a challenge, especially if you are a self-published author working on a limited budget. You have to take care of visuals, fonts, and colors all on your own. With these tips, you can learn how to design a professional book cover on your own without breaking the bank. Use these ideas to create your own unique book cover and find your way to literary success.
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