A glance is all it takes. In less than three seconds, your book is judged. No matter how we say that a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover, in this millennial epoch, it is. And in that rapid verdict, a brilliant cover design depicts a thousand words that seduces readers to look beyond the surface. It’s an introduction, a hook, a blurb, or sometimes the story itself painted in a way that doesn’t give it all but gives enough tease for you to ultimately explore its pages.
What makes a powerful lure? What captures people to buy now? We’ve collected different styles and techniques from the all-knowing eyes of the industry. You may know design, but they know what sells.
Before you get started on creating a brief for a cover design, or before starting to design one yourself, you need to decide on the message you want to send.
Covers need to make a reader “feel” something rather than “tell” them something.
Establish a principal focus for the cover—Nothing is more important. Your book is about something, and the cover ought to reflect that one idea clearly.
Don’t fall into the trap of loading up your cover with too many elements, 3 or 4 photos, illustrations, maps, “floating” ticket stubs.
Sell the selling points on the cover.
If you’re planning to have an image that wraps around the whole cover, then the images will have to be even bigger. You can always reduce size and quality, but if you start from a small size then increasing it is impossible without further lowering quality. Stretched or blurry images quickly undermine a professionally designed cover! - From Four Steps to Create A Great Cover for Your Self-Published Book
Do create a Mood Board. Take photos, take screenshots of typefaces that you like, find colours and patterns that resonate with the book’s contents, and organise them into common themes. - Anna Lewis, from Self-Publishing Cover Design
Make your title a different color than your background. Using a light color behind a darker colored font, or an extremely contrasting dark color behind a white or almost white font is a good way to make sure your title is readable. - Eckstein, from "The Five Secrets to a Killer eBook Cover"
The title should be big and easy to read. This is more important than ever
Don’t forget to review a thumbnail image of the cover. More people are buying books on a Kindle or mobile device, so you want the cover to read clearly no matter where it appears.
Do not use any of the following fonts (anywhere!): Comic Sans or Papyrus. These fonts are only acceptable if you are writing a humor book, or intentionally attempting to create a design that publishing professionals will laugh at.
Do not use your own artwork, or your children’s artwork, on the cover.
Do not use cheap clip art on your cover. I’m talking about the stuff that comes free with Microsoft Word or other cheap layout programs. Quality stock photography is OK. (iStockPhoto is one reliable source for quality images.) - Klems, from 10 Tips for Effective Book Covers
Use the glance test. Look at it and look away - Puttee, from "Book Cover Design Tips With Book Cover Designer Anthony Puttee" by Joanna Penn
Photo from Entrepreneurs-Journey.com
Can you tell what kind of book it is? This is important for it standing out. But make sure the cover is also good at a large size e.g. for fliers, posters if you are doing live events.
Conceptual, smart, and strong cover design is not about style; it’s not about decoration; it’s about an idea and a clear way of communicating that idea.
There’s so much with color choice that’s almost arbitrary. Sometimes it’s just an accident. I’ll be looking to change a color and something comes up on the screen, like a luminal phase between a green and a red. So you just never know.
While I enjoy completely filling the book cover space with lots of craziness, I also enjoy that same space with a lot of room for something to breathe and to exist.
The basic rule of cover design is that the cover should match the contents of the book. That means that the style, format, and message of the cover should be compatible with and support the style, format, and message of the book itself. - From "Book Design: Elements of Good Cover Design" by John Kremer @JohnKremer
Avoid clichés. Although my book is about finance, it’s a unique and personal book, and I wanted this conveyed through its cover. I didn’t want it to feature dollar bills or piggy banks or any of that cliché stuff. - Miller, from "9 authors' tips for a brilliant book cover design" by Maya Lekach
Take a copy of your book cover into store, go to the relevant shelf and see if it fits. Does it stand out? If it does, it’s probably wrong. The blurb and the cover and the writing is unique, but the only way the reader will discover it is if the packaging explains, at a subconscious level, what the words are about. You wouldn’t expect to open a cornflakes pack and find pasta, would you? Same deal. - Barnes, from "Self-Publishing: Cover Design"
The path of least resistance when you’re designing a jacket is to give that particular demographic exactly what they want. - Mendelsund, from "What Makes A Brilliant Book Cover? A Master Explains" by Kyle Vanhemert
Use social media to get input from fans – and listen! After all, it’s my fans – my audience – that matters. So I listened to them. - Pistono, from "9 author's tips for a brilliant book cover design" by Maya Lekach
Understand your competition. Visit websites such as this Monthly eBook Cover Design Competition, or simply scroll through the relevant categories in the Amazon store to gain a deeper insight into the kinds of eBook covers yours will be up against. - Matthews, from "5 simple tips for eBook cover design success"
Because of rapidly improving screen technologies, you should ensure all cover images are created at a minimum size of 2500 pixels on the shortest side and 300 dpi. That means you’ll be able to output most resolutions required today. - @nztaylor, from "Ebook cover design tips and techniques"
A beautifully detailed cover which draws bookshop readers won’t look the same online. Not only will tactile design elements like foiling and embossing be lost, but design that looks incredible at 9” x 6” will be crunched and squashed down to a measly few centimetres.
To add insult to injury, if you buy into the option of Amazon’s sampling facility, it will add a ‘look inside’ banner, which further squishes the cover, and draws the eye away from the design. For many books that look wonderful in print, you can’t even read the title online, let alone the all-important ‘bestselling’ text, which has been proven to make readers buy. - Avery, "Publishing: How to Design the Best Book Cover for Online Sales"
The cover isn’t a place to be creative. The cover is packaging. It’s an online advertisement... It’s either going to grab and hold someone’s interest just enough to get them to read the sales copy, or it’s a complete failure and waste of space. - Derek Murphy, Creativindie Covers
Don’t make it yourself. - Krishnasamy, "So, About That Book Cover Design: Tips from a Merchandiser"
Then it came time to create a cover for my novel, I felt like I had a leg up in knowing how to speak the language of these exotic creatures. It all boils down to three key concepts: give them room to explore, be specific and upbeat with feedback, and remain open to surprise. - Rogers, "An Animated Approach to Cover Design"