Monday, September 8, 2014

Seven Tips for a Great Book Cover

Where to start when designing a book cover

An engaging and evocative book cover is an essential marketing tool for every author. When designed correctly, it will stand out on a crowded shelf and communicate with a reader in the briefest of glances. 

The following are a few tips for designing an engaging book cover that perfectly complements your manuscript:

Less is more

A book cover should be simple and uncluttered. It should represent the theme of the manuscript or the conflict within, however, not every plot point needs to be shown. One element should dominate and take charge to provide a hint of the atmosphere of the book.

Be genre-appropriate

Each genre has a formula per se, and if your novel falls in that genre, your audience will be expecting to see certain elements. For example, if your novel is Romance, the audience will expect to see an image that evokes love, passion or longing. Each of these feelings can also be achieved through the right typography. Yes, even the typography needs to be genre-appropriate. In our Romance novel example, your audience will expect to see a title that is curvaceous rather than straight or block letters.

Engage your reader on an emotional level

The image you use needs to give readers a sense of excitement and something they can relate to. Again in the case of Romance novels or stories that are character or relationship-driven, designs with people on the cover will sell more over an obscure image. Showing conflict or drama on the cover is a sure way to hook a reader looking for that type of reading experience.

Use strong typography

Along with being genre-appropriate and well crafted, the typography for the title and author name should be readable at thumbnail size. The choice of font can truly make, or break, your book cover.

Be consistent within a series

If you are writing a series, use similar thematic elements, typography or structure to provide consistency, recognizability and branding.

Use the same eCover & Paperback Cover

Since there isn’t as much of a gap between eCovers and Paperback covers anymore because all print covers will be shown somewhere online anyway, choose images and typography that will work well for both. The major advantage of this is recognizability with your audience and in the market.

Don’t wait until your novel is complete to design your cover 

Participating in a pre-publication Cover Reveal campaign with bloggers and posting your cover on GoodReads early generates hype about your novel. It also reduces stress from a last minute rush if you have to wait for your favourite designer. You might find you need to allow additional time for a special photo shoot or image production. Starting early is always best. That said, you should wait until the major themes and storylines are fleshed out in case your characters decide to take the story in another direction. Changes in the plot could impact the image choice for your cover.