You finally finished your book. You have poured yourself into it, your editor is proud of the final product and it’s time to show the world. But how can the world judge your book with out a cover? I know it’s cliché, but your book cover is what sells your book. We do judge books by their covers. Without an awesome cover your book has very few chances to make it to the best sellers list. So what can you do, on a limited budget, to improve your book’s “buyability”? Let’s take a look.
Emphasis is just designing in order of importance. So what is the most important element on your book cover. Nine times out of ten it will be the title of the book. Unless you are Stephen King, whose name sells the book, your book’s title will be need to be the biggest or most important element on the cover. Then you get to decide what is number two, your name or the visual. If you haven’t made a name that people will recognize yet, consider using your visual in the number 2 slot. Then probably your name as number three, followed by the subtitle and other elements.
Contrast is simply having enough difference between elements so they can be seen or read. Your book title needs contrast with your background, image, or surroundings. Your book will also need contrast with other books, but we will touch on that later. Make sure your elements have enough difference between them in color, value and emphasis. If all of your elements can’t be seen from some distance, you should reconsider their contrast. Some high contrast color combinations are Red and White, Black and Yellow, or Blue and Yellow. Play with those and see what you can come up with.
If you look at any best seller’s list, you will never find a book cover created in MS WORD. It won’t happen. As good as Word is at it’s job, it wasn’t made for design. Your book needs to look as professional as possible. I am not saying as good as you can make it, chances are you are not a designer. No insult intended, but to get professional results, you should probably use a professional designer. If you are on a tight budget, inquire at a local college or trade school with a design department. Students will love working on book covers and typically won’t charge as much as a working professional. If all else fails, you can purchase book cover templates on several sites. You could even find a cover you like, grab some tracing paper and make your own template. DO NOT plagiarize the cover, just dissect how they placed the title, image and author name and apply it to your cover.
Your book cover should be legible from a nominal distance or small size. I know that sounds like a line from Captain Obvious’ latest movie, but you would be surprised at how seldom that advice is heeded. Use bold readable fonts that will help the reader grasp the jest of your book quickly. I understand that books targeted to women typically don’t want to scream at their readers, but if your title is designed with a font that is hard to read, you can kiss those potential readers goodbye. So choose a bold font that is very readable and complimentary to your subject matter as well as pleasing to your audience. That leads us to consistency.
Consistency is a big topic, both in scope and in importance. Your book cover needs to be consistent with many elements, your subject, your audience, but also your blog, your public image, and your other books. It all needs to mesh together, to work in concert. Use the same fonts or graphic elements from your blog, use common colors from your marketing, logo, and webpage. Even your voice should be consistent from your blog to your book to your webpage. You want your faithful readers to recognize your look, your style. And you want new readers to avoid getting mixed signals from one media to the next. When you achieve this consistency throughout your products you will be entering into the world of branding, and that is a good thing.
Branding is the overall feel your readers get anytime they encounter your brand. Every time they read one of your books, or your blog, visit your website, or open your email, your readers should get the same overall feeling of quality, trust, and looking forward to more from you. Branding is more than just your personal logo, and design of your books. It is your over arching story that you are striving to tell. Take great care in your brand. Protect it harshly. Once tarnished it is nearly impossible to restore.
Look at your competition in your genre. What are they doing that works? What are they doing wrong? The last thing you want to do is blend into your competition. Amazon is a great resource for this. You can see the covers of the best sellers and the worst sellers. What do all the best sellers have in common? The worst? What can you do to stand out in either of those crowds? What can you learn from them? Your competition can be the biggest source of lessons learned out there. What to do and not do all at our finger tips. Once you have some comps in front of you line up your book cover with the best sellers in your genre. How does yours look? Is it as good or better? Does it blend into the crowd or stand out on the shelf? Does your cover look like it is out of it’s league or a strong competitor?
The visual you place on your book cover can make or break the book. Make sure you use art or photos that are 1) high quality 2) you have permission to use 3) speaks to your audience 4) stands out. Stock photos are very affordable now. There are several sites you can get high quality images for under $10. Your book cover should be a minimum of 300dpi (dots per inch). This gives you many advantages. Your cover will look better online, it will be clean enough to print, and will help your branding and professionalism. Choose your images carefully, they are very important.
These tips can help you create a strong book cover that will look great on the best sellers list and make you proud every time you see it on the shelf.
If you have any questions or need help with your book cover, please don’t hesitate to contact us. creative@DzinDNA.com