One shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But having a good cover doesn’t hurt, does it? Publishers are slowly realizing the importance of a book cover design. It’s the visual representation of the chapters, settings, characters, ideas, and events, all on a single front cover.
It just takes a few seconds for the readers to pick a book off the rack or ignore it. That’s where a book cover plays the role of a catalyst. It stirs the interest and entices them to buy. We know that you’re not a technological wizard but considering your book cover design like a blank canvas and adding whatever you want, wherever you want is the worst thing you can do.
Here we are going to talk about 8 tips to design a brilliant cover. These reliable, time-tested guidelines will not only help your cover catch the attention but boost the sales as well.
Let’s check it out!
1. Think of your readers first, design later
Images and text appearing on the cover must be readable as thumbnails. After all, you’re designing a cover for the human eyes, not robotic eyes, isn’t it? That’s the key to sell more books. If you are planning to sell it through Amazon or Kobo or other online bookstores then being able to discern the image or reading the text in a limited size is very important. However, if you can’t do so, then how would your readers? The cover has to make a reader feel something.
Think of the cover like a billboard, trying to catch the attention of the readers. In one glance it should reveal:
- The genre of the book
- The general subject matter
- Idea and tone of the book
Is your book a thriller? A murder mystery? A software guide? Each of these books needs a different cover to tell what it is all about in a single look.
2. Make the central character or object pop out
A great way to design brilliant covers is to let the central character or object pop out. Many authors or publishers ask for the same, but designers fail to deliver that. It, however, is the technique of blending strong light to dark transition and shadows. In order to do so:
- Spotlight the central character or object in a light color against a dark background (if you’re doing it reverse; choose a bold, dark image against a light background.)
- Choose contrasting colors, opposite on a color wheel. (For example, movie posters that use teal and orange frequently.)
- Use blue and red, black/gray and red or purple and yellow colors.
- For non-fiction book covers, use bright colors or just a central image.
3. Consider the right spacing
A lot of book covers give the impression of being too messy, packed with information. It is because authors want to include as many things as possible on the cover. Even if it includes many elements, the background should be merged smoothly. That can be done using the color wash technique.
Take an example of the given book covers. The Guy’s cover includes a lot of space at the center but looks cramped between the lettering. It is because the author name and title are long. The extra space added in the middle balances this gap. It makes the cover layout more fluid, less box-square and clean. On the flip side, the author Lauren Kate’s name has been stretched out. Each letter of the name includes space that goes well with the cover image.
4. Avoid Clichés
The book cover should be unique and memorable. Using cliché elements and stock photos will ruin the whole purpose. Avoid creating cliché covers that readers have already gone through. The design should catch the attention at the first glance. This will happen only when you choose a unique theme and not the clichéd one.
Take Jim Miller’s book for example. It’s about finance the cover is unique and gives a personalized look. It doesn’t have the clichéd elements like dollars or piggy banks that every financial book includes. It’s devoid of those clichés.
5. Use a Subtitle, Teaser or Tagline
Once the design is ready, include in it a little information like a teaser. If it’s a fiction, the teaser will hint at the major plot. It helps excite interest without giving the readers too much of information. Make them simply using a simple font. In case of non-fiction, adding a subtitle is crucial. The title cannot be stuffed with too many keywords. That’s where subtitle comes into play. Adding a review will also work. It helps sell the book even if the source or reviewer isn’t recognized. However, edit it down to make it short and catchy.
6. Choose the right font
Be it book cover design or brochure design typography can make or break its look. However, when it comes to choosing the font, do not use anything that’s pre-installed in your computer. Search for unique fonts online or on sites like MyFonts.com or DaFont.com. You can get free fonts, but chances are everyone would be using them. In that case, you can use paid fonts. Choose gothic or bold fonts for fictions and fancy, simple ones for non-fictions. Even you can tweak the fonts a little to create custom fonts. If you use fancy or bold font, stick with just one and leave the rest of the fonts simple.
7. Experiment with Effects
You can enhance your book’s meaning by experimenting with effects. This example of The Girl On the Train runs a blurry effect with a train’s image in the background. The blur fonts symbolize the speed of the train that matches well with the context of the book.
With deliberate adjustments to the effects, colors, and textures you can create many ways to evoke the theme of your cover.
8. Fix the Text in a Balanced Way
Text placement plays a crucial role in book cover and brochure design. You need to fit the words collectively in a balanced way. If needed, italicized the small words like “in, the, and, of, by” etc. Also, you can make them small to fit in between the larger texts.
Avoid using drop shadows or glow in the text. Add it in a way that it stands out naturally and matches with the background perfectly. Unique text placement is a form of branding (Example: The Great Gatsby). The letter Y has been used creatively as a wine glass whereas in Out Of The Box, the words “Of & The” have been made smaller. This balances the whole theme and catches the attention of the readers.
A book cover is the first thing a reader notices about a book. If it makes the readers feel something or excite their interest, it’s sure that the book will be sold off in no time. Consider aforesaid tips and design a cover that attracts eyes. If you have any ideas, do share in the comment box.
Anne Carton is a small business consultant, designer and an enthusiast blogger working with Designhill, one of the fastest-growing custom design marketplace. She has authored several blogs, articles and editorials on various topics related to book cover design, brochure design, interactive content, concerning design, social media strategies, growth hack strategies, digital marketing and e-commerce.