Authors tend to think of the book cover as the wrapper that goes around their work of art, but in reality, it’s the packaging that sells the work, not the other way around. Some authors think because they are creative with a word processor or that their third grade teacher told them their drawing has real promise, they are artistic enough to create their own covers. Self-Publishing tools don’t help by making it easier for not professionals to design some really monstrous covers. But what makes a good design? There are a lot of answers, but here are a few hints.
What Makes Good Book Cover Design?
- A good cover design must legible. Not too dark or non-contrasting enough that buyers can’t understand what is going on
- The design must be able to be thumbnail size and still unique or recognizable.
- A good cover must communicate genre.
- Who is your market? What do they want to see when selecting a book?
- Good covers promise what the book delivers – a cover that has nothing to do with the contents will kill future sales and get bad reviews.
- Series covers should look similar enough to be part of the series but have their own identity.
Some Factors in Cover Design
Color theory – certain colors evoke certain emotional responses in the subconscious minds of buyers
- Typography – certain font styles evoke emotional responses – san-serif for modern, futuristic, serif for traditional, “antiquey”
- Negative space – open areas can direct the flow of design, aiming the buyer’s eyes where you want them to focus
- Authors name – is the author’s name a big enough draw that people buy the book on that name alone or is the author a relatively unknown?
- Blurbs – awards, reviews, quotes
- Summary – does the summary give away the whole story or tease the buyer into buying it to find out what happens?
- Style – does the book cover design reflect the genre? There is a reason some genres all look alike. So buyers don’t have to think too hard about the buying decision.
- Branding – Thinking beyond this book and into the future, will this design reflect the brand of the author for books to come or is this just a one-shot cover?
- Title – will the Amazon algorithm be able to discern the title from the background, giving an additional boost in rankings?
- Professionalism – this one is hard to define, but when you see it, you know it. Maybe a lack of “cheesy”.