10 Best Book Cover Design Tips For Your Book

Book Cover Design

A book cover is a crucial marketing tool for your book as it creates the first impression for your potential readers. With the number of books in a bookstore vying for a reader’s attention, an intriguing book cover that perfectly captures the story will grab a buyer’s attention and increase sales.

Many book designs feature elements taken from stock image libraries such as Shutterstock, iStock, and Getty Images. The benefit of adopting this type of cover design is that they are relatively inexpensive to make and it is quicker for a designer to edit a pre-existing image rather than illustrating one. Illustrated covers are another type that give a distinctive visual style to your book cover. Most celebrity memoirs and romance fiction novels use original photography to create maximum impact with their cover design. With these cover design options available to you, choose a route that is cost-effective and communicates your story in an interesting manner without revealing too much information. A well-designed cover assures a potential reader that the book is interesting, both in content and delivery.

However, authors sometimes divulge too much information on the cover, thus losing the charm to compel the reader. To avoid this, your book’s cover must convey just one exciting piece of information that attracts the buyer. Consider it as an investment and extend the services of a freelance designer since you will be using the book cover on your book sales page, for your social media promotion, on a brochure, and in a physical bookstore.

You can also create a cover design that incorporates genre conventions and publishing trends using free templates and tutorials based on the principles that have worked. You can use free design tools that allow you to create book cover templates for any genre.

However, catching the reader’s attention can be difficult. This is where self-publishers play a key role. Publishing platforms that offer services like Pencil have the expertise that delivers the layout of your story effectively and helps your book stand out.

Let us take a look at how your book cover design draws people in and persuades them to buy the book, giving it that much-coveted mass appeal.

Do your research

Whether you are a self-publishing author or an independent publisher, you need to conduct comprehensive research about your readers. This will help you understand which books are trending in your genre and what is influencing a reader’s decisions to convert and buy a book. Take a look at about 25 books in your genre and make a brief comparison. Identify the similarities and differences in the visual style, typography, title, subtitle, illustration, and other elements, and make a list of these. You may want to highlight the most important discoveries and focus on these when you begin designing your book cover.

Understanding your target audience

Before you design a cover for your book, you should have a clear understanding of the audience you are trying to reach. Knowing your audience will help you create messaging and use colour schemes, fonts, layouts, and images that appeal to your readers specifically. Instead of guessing what attracts your target audience, browse through the bestsellers in your genre, or conduct surveys, and gain insight through focus groups. You can be a part of various genre-specific book clubs that discuss books similar to yours. This will not only give you insights into your target audience but will also provide you with an invaluable resource for all your future book marketing efforts. You can discover demographic data, lifestyle information, and consumer behaviour by using social media analytics to understand your existing followers.

Once you have segmented your target audience, create a persona of your core customer to recognise their key traits. A persona is an in-depth description that you can use as a reference throughout your targeting process. It helps create a representative sample of an audience based on the analysis and research of real customers. Creating a persona of your potential readers helps build a much more detailed picture of the kind of communication they prefer.

Here is an example of how to lay out key elements of the persona and integrate your research. Start by giving your persona a name to keep a specific person in mind. Note key demographics such as age, gender, occupation, and location. Define their online and offline behavior, by mentioning the activities they enjoy. Finally, identify what your book addresses and what made them choose the genre. Turn this insight into action and hone your communication and marketing messages accordingly.

Get inspired from other bestselling titles in your category

To connect with your target audience, it is vital to think like a reader and not like an author. You can take inspiration from authors whose work you love without resorting to outright copying or even heavy influence. Take a look at the bestselling titles in your genre, and you will come across intriguing designs and illustrations. Take your time and make notes about the aspects of the book that inspire you and discover what exactly it is that readers love so much. It could be the typography, colour palette, or the concept. When selecting the colour for your book cover, begin with the mood you want to create. Dark background colors such as black convey a sense of mystery and suspense, dark red conveys passion and vibrant colours like orange and yellow are suitable for book covers of positive and creative subject matters. Evaluate how bestselling authors are communicating the essence of their book and then put your twist on it.

Choose the right cover design software

If you have developed your graphic designing skills and are designing your book cover, here are the best cover design software that you should consider:

Canva has a collection of templates for every type of content with multiple themes. This allows you to have a set frame and make changes as per your concept. You can use Canva’s built-in library for illustrations, graphics and typography. With a wide range of customisation options, it is a design favourite.

Placeit offers a variety of template options based on the genre of your book, with multiple customisation options. They also provide an option to download 3D cover mockups which help during the promotion process.

Choose suitable graphic and typography

Of all the different parts of a book cover, the typography and graphic are arguably the most compelling. It is the first component that will help you connect with your potential reader on an emotional level. The font you use for the cover, and the visual element create a brand that makes your book immediately recognisable to the readers. Ensure it is professional looking.

Choose a font and graphic that fits the messaging and tone of your story. If you are looking to convey the essence of your work as one minimalistic image, choose a simple font and a central graphic. Your book cover can include a silhouette to give a mysterious tone, a collage for a modern twist, a hand-drawn cover for an organic, homely touch, and a dark, dramatic artwork for a thriller. You can also let the empty space entice the reader by turning the typography into the illustration itself. While bold, bright typography is a great way to grab attention, straightforward typography that allows an abstract illustration to do the talking also piques the interest of the readers. If you are perplexed by the number of choices, keep it simple.

Remember, a cover should not use more than two or three fonts to prevent it from looking cluttered. If you want to give your cover a professional touch, avoid using default fonts such as Comic Sans and Papyrus. You can find ideas and free fonts to use on sites like 1001 Free Fonts and Behance. Use the right font to evoke different emotions in your readers. Bold fonts express intensity, while rounded fonts convey gentleness. For a fantasy book genre, you can use fonts such as Baskerville, Serif, Gothic, Apple Garamond. Whereas fonts with flourishes such as Bentham, Vix Antique Script, Amaze, Day Roman, and Twilight are perfect for a romance genre.

Understanding visual hierarchy is critical to make your cover easy to navigate. Visual hierarchy is the principle of laying out elements strategically according to the order of the importance of the content. Set the weight and size of your font according to the importance of the text, to direct the gaze of your reader accordingly. Elements that are larger in size and have a brighter colour draw more attention. People also tend to notice dramatically contrasted colors, out-of-alignment elements, rich textures, and bold font styles. To suggest that the content is related, use the same font style and reduce the proximity. Avoid font explosions and special styling. If the graphic is busy, keep the typography simple and vice versa. Aim for a creative design by hinting at the characters or the plot of the book.

Use free stock images

If you are designing your book cover, multiple sites allow you to use free stock images or royalty-free images; all you have to do is give the artist credit. For royalty-free images, you have to pay a one-time fee to obtain the rights to use the picture. You can use Unsplash, Shutterstock, Flickr and  Pexels for some brilliant free pictures.

Book cover design trends

With ever-changing design trends, many authors use colours, styles, and concepts that are in line with new trends. There has been a trending debate over the lamination of a book cover, as it creates a visual and tactile experience of reading and affects the perceived quality and value of a book.  A gloss laminate makes the cover vibrant and implies a richer product. Whereas matte is currently the more trending choice for laminate. The contrast of a matte cover among many glossy covers draws attention and provides an elegant finish. You can order proof copies of your book in different laminates before you finalise.

To further understand book cover trends, take a look at the design trends from the past decade. A recurring trend you will notice from the 1950s is the intricate handcrafted illustrations. As trends radically changed from the 50s to the 60s, you will see designs that focus on bold typography with minimal illustrations. It is interesting to note how the trends evolved over the years with the progress of technology. With access to book covers from the past decades, publishers and authors are taking inspiration from all trends. The use of bold typography, abstract illustration, minimalistic design with a central element, retro design from the 70s and 80s, and the use of the color ‘millennial pink’ are some book cover trends then you will see in 2020.

Get feedback on your designs

Balance is critical when you are choosing the visuals for your book cover to help create the mood and convey the message you are trying to send. Make three mockup design options, print them out and analyse them in every possible manner. Ensure it reflects the book’s elements and creates an impact. Refrain from making too many revisions, asking friends for feedback and posting it on social media. Your book is mainly supposed to appeal to your target audience. Hence, an experienced group of people that fit your genre are the optimum audience to help you gain insight.

Getting professional graphic designers who specialize in book covers

The cover design is crucial to your book’s messaging and sales. The tough competition to attract potential readers has given rise to multiple books designing styles. This is why most authors hire professional graphic designers who specialize in book covers, they know what works for different genres, and make your book stand out. You can reach out to vetted freelance book cover designers with experience in every genre on Upwork, Behance, and Fiverr. These platforms have a simple process in place that allows you to connect with experienced designers from around the world. You can view profiles of multiple designers, compare costs, reviews, prior work, interview favorites, and hire the best fit. You can also track the project for updates and enjoy a hassle-free payment process.

Working with a self-publisher

If you want to skip the hassles of choosing a professional book cover designer, a self-publisher is the way to go. Self-publishers extend designing services for all formats, from print to e-book. Pencil offers great flexibility tailored to your individual project. You can simply place a request for designing service, brief the team about your requirements, who will then allot a project manager to customize and initiate the project.

Books are a collection of knowledge and all forms of storytelling. But books are also brands that need to be promoted using innovative marketing strategies. If you want your book to stand out, you must build an effective and memorable brand that motivates readers to gravitate towards your book. This is why impressive book covers are an investment that gives you the best chance on the shelves and maximizes the impact of your story as a whole.

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