I’ve spent a good chunk of my life working with design and making things more enjoyable to the consumer. Advertising is a race to make people pick up your product or service and having a strong design is one of the easiest ways to get people to stop and look.
With books, it’s no different. When it comes to traditional publishing, most writers don’t have a huge say in the design. It’s sent off to people who design for a living to better sell your novel. If you’re self-publishing the cover could make or break your sales in the sea of books. So here are a few of my tips and tricks to designing a better book cover.
You know that phrase “keep it simple, stupid?” It’s most fitting in the design world. It’s also something my professors would exclaim whenever they got the chance (though it was just them yelling KISS when someone went overboard with something).
Create a Color Palette that Fits
Color palettes are always an important part of the creative design process. You both want the colors to work well together and work well with your genre or story. You wouldn’t want to use dark and brooding colors for a light romantic story, nor would you want pinks and cute light colors for a murder mystery. Picking the right palette not only makes it more pleasing to the eye, but helps the reader know what they’re getting into.
Make the Title Easy to See
The title is important to your novel. You already know this because you’ve probably spent way too long trying to think of the perfect one. Now that you have it, show it off! Don’t make the title hard to read with fancy fonts or make it too small to see. For example, a lot of suspense novels make the title bold and intense on the front of the book.
Use High Quality Stock Images
Always, always, always find high quality stock images or illustrations. Unless you are a fantastic artist who can create masterpieces (or know someone who does) getting high quality stock is the way to go. You don’t want people to pass up your novel because it looks subpar or like a work in progress. You want them to see the professional nature of it. There’s a stigma with self-published books that they are unfinished, don’t let them even think that.
Emotions sell. It’s an old advertising trick. You get people emotional in one way or another and they’ll buy your product. You hit their needs and wants and they’ll be placing down payment. With your book cover, try to do the same. Is your story intense so the cover fuels that? Is it a sweet romance? Make sure to show the general emotion you want the book to give. It’s a great trick. Hard to pull off sometimes, but when you do, it’s fantastic.
Fit Your Genre
Just like the palette it’s important to fit your genre. If you stand out too much, people might think you’re in the wrong place. Besides avid readers know what their genres look like. I recommend going to the store and finding the section your book would be in. What’s around it? What are the standards for the genre?
But Don’t Just Copy
You want to fit your genre for sure, but don’t make it exactly the same as the thousand other covers. You want to try to have your unique spin. Look through all the ebooks on Amazon. So many look the same. So, you will want to try to make yourself a different book. Like before, when you’re at the store looking at where your book will be or on the listing on Amazon, see what you can do differently that still fits your genre but makes you stand out from the books directly around you. It’s a hard balance but if you take the time to figure it out, I’m sure you’ll create a fun and fantastic cover.
Ask Yourself “Would You Pick This Book?”
Ignore the fact that you wrote this masterpiece and you know exactly what’s in it. Look at the cover, look at the title, and ask yourself, is this something you’d pick up? If not, what parts don’t you like? What do you usually grab and what do those covers look like? You aren’t there to tell them how great your book is so it’s important to show that in your cover.
It’s important to do design research before finishing your cover. Just like when you researched for your novel, edited it over a hundred times, you need to put that much effort into your cover. Or find someone who you like the designs of and purchase a high-quality cover.
You’ve finished your cover, now it’s time to convince people to pick it up. Design is confusing and that’s why in traditional publishing they have a whole team to make the perfect cover to get people to grab your novel. When self publishing, this is all on you…so is the marketing of the book. You’ll need to put in just as much energy into this as you did writing the novel. It’s tough, but you also wrote a novel and that’s no easy feat.
Let me know in the comments below if you design your own covers, or what covers you love. I’d love to hear what you think.