Tuesday, June 3, 2014

13 Tips on Book Cover Design

Recently someone asked me for my thoughts on book cover designs. So, I sent them a long email. After I hit send I thought, wait a minute, I could post this on my blog too! LOL. 

I am contemplating redesigning my covers too, so it is always worthwhile thinking about these issues. My current book covers are here: 

Coming Summer 2014!

Available now!

Available now!

So, here are a few of my thoughts on cover design
  1. THE LOOK: Study the books on Amazon bestsellers lists or similar ebook retailers that are in your genre. What do they look like? What colours do they use? Many book covers will suggest a genre. You'll want to make sure that your cover doesn't suggest something different from what you write.
  2. THINK SMALL: When you have a design you think you might like, look it in thumbnail size. Does it still look good? Does it catch your eye?  You do not necessarily have to be able to read the title / name on it, but the overall graphic should look good still.  Consider doing a mock up of your cover in among the other covers on the Amazon sales page. Does yours attract attention? The fact that most online retailers use thumb nails has had a huge impact on cover design.
  3. RESEARCH: There are a lot of websites out there that showcase "bad" / "good" covers. Read those!  Avoid making the mistakes they talk about. One helpful site is: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/08/monthly-e-book-cover-design-awards/, but there are a lot of others.
  4. FONTS: Think about typography and fonts. Study the ones used on bestsellers from publishers. They often do a great job on typography. Some fonts and sizes "look" like self-publishing. Here are some romance fonts - http://www.thepassivevoice.com/02/2014/300-fool-proof-fonts-to-use-for-your-book-cover-design/ but before downloading and using them you'll need to check them for licencing requirements, etc.
  5. BLACK AND WHITE: Look at your book cover in black and white. Is it still legible? You'll want to do this because not all e-readers show in color (like mine), so you'll want to have your cover show nicely on those too.
  6. QUALITY: Make sure the images are high resolution.
  7. SIZES: Each retailer has a slightly different requirement for sizes of book covers. You'll have to adjust the covers for each site. Here is a post on sizes - but you'll want to check these for yourself at the various retailers' sites. http://ebookindiecovers.com/ebook-cover-size-requirementsspecifications/  Note: Createspace cover sizes (print) are dependent on a number of variables and can't really be determined until you find out the number of pages, what size of book you want and what type of paper you want.
  8. YOUR NAME: Many people / designers comment that often the author's name is too small on self-published books. So watch for that. It used to be that the larger the author's name, the more established the author was in the publishing industry (or so I've been told), but it doesn't really work that way any more. Also, consider having your name in a different color and font from your title.
  9. BRAND: If you are thinking of publishing more than one book, consider your "brand." You will want to have stylistic similarities for all of your books so that reader's can come to recognize the book as from you. (Think Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series or J.R.Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series) Also, check out this post: http://kobowritinglife.com/2013/11/15/weve-got-you-covered-friday-terry-odell/. And, you may want to carry some of that "branding" to your blog / website.
  10. TRENDS: Check out this link for some cover trendshttp://unbound.bookbub.com/post/65540128819/8-cover-trends-that-sell-books
  11. BEWARE: Have fun with it! But don't get too carried away. You probably won't want to use any of these stockphotos: http://www.pleated-jeans.com/2012/08/08/23-incredibly-weird-stock-photographs/ or these http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-strange-stock-photos.php 
  12. PRE-MADE: If you don't think you are up to designing your own cover, find a cover designer. For example, you can browse thousands of covers at selfpubbookcovers.com

Do you have any other tips or tricks for cover design? 


Anonymous said...

This is a great post, Lorraine. I've only done one book cover so far and I did it without checking any reference sites (I didn't know they were out there). I paid attention to what I thought were important elements . . . high res images, a clean look, colors that complemented each other, and the over all concept/theme I was hoping to catch (beach, seaside).

I love having this list of reference sites. Thanks!

Mary Magdeline said...

Thanks Lorraine. I love designing and often go play with book covers when I'm stuck in writing. I really appreciate all the sites you have listed. It's always good to know what is trending. There are many graphic courses offered by universities on-line too for very reasonable prices. I have taken two at the University of Washington (State) for only $99.00 each. I only need the advanced to get a certificate - Adobe Photoshop. So for $300 I've learned many tricks. In the end - designing your own covers is very satisfying I think.

MahrieGReid.com said...

Love the information and all the links.Even if you are using a cover designer, it's good to know what to approve! you've added another helpful path through the maze of self-publishing. Thanks

patonlorraine said...

Mae - I'm glad you found this list helpful! I like having lists too...if you can't tell. ;)

And - Your Solstice Island cover is great! :)

patonlorraine said...

Mary - I enjoy designing covers too. I already have the covers designed for my next twelve books - lol.

patonlorraine said...

Mahrie - Yes! It is always helpful to be able to discuss ideas and thoughts with your cover designer. :) I'm glad you enjoyed my post.

Marlow said...

Thanks so much for your post. I have to say after reading this I'm absolutely certain that I will never design my own cover. I just don't have the patience. But it is good to know that ahead of time. I do like the idea of pre-made covers and have seen some really good ones.
Thanks again for all the info.

patonlorraine said...

Hi Marlow!
LOL - it is always good to know when we need help! I don't know what I'd do without my editor, for example. Thanks for stopping by!