Let’s just face it. Even though we don’t like to admit it, we do judge a book by its cover. If a reader has never heard of your book, but sees it displayed with other books on the shelf, will he or she pick it up?
Lots of publishers depend on tried-and-true formulas for cover design. But that also means if you create a book cover based on how a book in your genre is supposed to look, then, wouldn’t that mean your book will also blend in with the rest?
To have a potential reader buy your book, a book cover should….
- Create a question
- Form a desire to answer the question
But first and foremost, the book has to stand out from the rest.
How do we design a book cover that stands out? We learn about the rules of the genre, and then we break them, within reason.
- a sci-fi book will still have abstracted futuristic elements of sci-fi on the cover;
- a romance novel will have that flair that the audience wants;
- a thriller will have its bold, or, off-colors of suspense;
- a book for young children will always have that added sweetness, or playfulness;
- a mystery book will produce an enticing HUGE question;
- fantasy will have that other-worldly flavor;
- and the dystopian will keep that layer of destruction on the cover or the emblem of power the characters want to regain
- for a non-fiction book, a taste of enlightenment the book has to offer
But all-in-all, we use our design sense to make a book stand out. We will use the right fonts, proper color and professional photos of characters, objects, words or quotes from a book to make it stand out.
Our book cover will not advertise content. No scenes from a chapter. Period. No Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys kind of cover.
We will search for a recurring theme in your book, excerpt a memorable feeling from your book, and test how many ways we can make it stand out from the rest, and yet, not deviate from the genre. It’s quite an involved process.
COVER CONCEPT by Foxwink (Copyright 2014)
Character/ Orion space capsule merging into 1. Mood may be too dark for the book that contains element of youth and danger. We need to create more excitement. Add orange in the bottom of background. Should we add a baby’s hand to hold the model instead?
COVER CONCEPT 2 by Foxwink (Copyright 2014)
A montage of the real Orion launch photo in the background, has added more excitement to the cover. We will probably tweak this concept some more, but we like how it looks so far.
If you know that you will be publishing a book, you may want to think about your book cover as soon as you know …
- what kind of book you’re writing -whether it is character-based or plot based;
- Look deeper for the mood throughout the book; what keeps cropping up in your book-love, loss, death; a vision in your mind that keeps on cropping up whenever you read your manuscript; a FEELING.
- if it’s a non fiction book, what is your subject, your expertise, your insights, your answers;
- Who is your target audience, their demographics- age, gender, etc.
- Where do they buy their new books- Internet? School? Retail? Book conventions? Once you know this information, you may be able to create a book cover that will work for the right buyer. If you want to capture an online buyer, make sure that your book cover is internet friendly- that mainly means that the font has to be quite discernible as a thumbnail. Think BIG and BOLD and not cluttered within the rest of the images on the cover. Use color and value contrasts to create attention.
- Ask social media – If you already have a legion of followers on Facebook because you have a thousand friends who have an inkling regarding what you are doing, ASK them what they like in a book cover. Your friends and followers have legitimate opinions, just like anyone else. Make sure they are not being biased though. Maybe make them choose which of your book cover concepts that they like.
Many big publishers keep authors from actually designing their own book covers because they have in-house design teams who come to work day-in, day-out and make thousands of book covers for their clients. They know what works.
As a self-published writer, do you know what works?
We know you have invested a lot of yourself into your book. It’s YOUR baby. It is special and you want to be heard. Since you’re doing your own marketing for your book, and book design is a major part of marketing and selling, by all means, take charge. Learn the ropes. Don’t let others push you into something else, especially if you KNOW that your methods will work.
But what if you don’t know what works as a great book cover? What if you don’t know heads or tails about design?
Then leave it to the pros. Hire a cover designer.Make sure the designer knows DESIGN inside out. Look at portfolios- what the designer has created for previous clients. Interview their clients and see if they are satisfied with the work.
Keep in mind that as a self published author, YOU have the final say, since you know your book inside out. With your book knowledge, and their design expertise, perhaps a collaboration of minds may soon get you exactly what you envision to market your book.
YOUR BOOK MAY STAND OUT FROM OTHERS BUT….
Remember, a well-designed book cover will get a potential reader to pick up your stand-out book, but it’s no guarantee that the book in the hand will find its way to the check out counter.
A sale of your book will depend on tremendous marketing effort, and for the book to remain a good seller, a kit ‘n kaboodle of marketing may not work as well as great writing. But that’s another story.
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