How to Design an Appealing Book Cover
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But let’s face it, we all do. This is because we know that a picture communicates much more than words can. The cover speaks volumes about the essence of the book. So before you publish your own book, you must give importance to designing the cover of your book. It is the first thing a reader sees when they are introduced to your work. It delivers a message to the reader about what to expect from the story and leaves them intrigued.
Among the thousands of books that line the shelves at a bookstore, you would want yours to stand out. In order to do this, you must familiarise yourself with the intricacies of the process of designing a truly appealing book cover. This blog will introduce the key elements of a book cover and guide you through designing one.
The Key Elements of a Book Cover
A book cover has three fundamental parts:
- The front cover
- The back cover
- The spine which connects the two
It is also important to distinguish between a paperback book and a hardback book. In a paperback book, the pages are glued together with a paper cover and then cut to size. A hardback book’s pages are sewn or glued into a “case”. The case is made of cardboard which is then covered with cloth or paper.
- Establish your genre through the cover itself
On average, a reader only spends three seconds while looking at a book cover for the first time. As they’re doing so, they gather fundamental information about the book and its intention. This includes figuring out the genre. In general, books fall solidly in one genre, like romance, thrillers, fantasy, horror and science-fiction. These genres have some time-tested cover design styles that were established decades ago. With time, readers have learned what to expect, just by looking at certain elements of the genre present on the cover. Hence, the cover of your book should follow, or at least evoke, these standard markers. For example, a desolate landscape can bring to mind fantasy or dystopian; while a couple sends a clear message of romance. The key is to embrace the conventional and find a way to create something surprising and new.
- Do some research to find inspiration and ideas for your cover
Once you’ve established the genre of your book, it’s time to do some research. An important aspect of book covers is their ability to connect with readers who are looking to buy books of your chosen genre. Therefore, you must draw inspiration from other books in your genre. Take a look at the bestselling titles in your category. It is likely that you’ll see visual styles and motifs that are repeated again and again. This will also help you figure out the conventional ways and how yours can stand out from the rest. You can experiment with unique ideas, striking imagery, and inventive typography.
- Choose an appropriate font and colour scheme
In order to pick the right font and colour scheme, you need to take into account the theme and genre of your book. This is because the right font and colour can evoke the mood that you’re aiming for in the reader. For instance, if you’re aiming to publish a young adult romance, you might want to choose bright colours and lively, yet romantic font styles. On the other hand, if you’re writing a mystery novel, choose a darker palette and a font style that appears sinister. However, you can creatively use colours that are not conventionally used for a particular genre to evoke a certain mood. For example, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White has a pastel pink cover which belies the ominous tone of the title.
- Keep visual hierarchy in mind
Visual hierarchy on a book cover is key. This refers to the font size and the order in which the title, subtitle and author’s name appear on the cover. Generally, the focus is on the title as they give powerful clues regarding the content of the book. Ensure that your title is readable and that it stands out from the background graphics. In general, your hierarchy should be as follows- place the title and cover graphics most prominently, followed by a subtitle (if there is one), followed by the author’s name. It is advisable to choose one focal element for your cover. This could be part of the image used on the cover, or it could be the title of the book. You can design the rest of the cover to emphasize that point. This will help you avoid clutter and create a design that is neat, yet eye-catching.
- Don’t hesitate to seek professional help
While there are several online platforms available today that help you design a book cover by yourself, it is advisable to get a professional’s opinion. A common mistake made by first-time writers is self-designing the cover instead of hiring a professional. Moreover, while it may be tempting to save pennies by using a prefabricated stock cover, it is best to avoid doing so. You can opt for platforms that help you with free book publishing and provide services for your book at nominal charges. Stock art is mostly generic and lacks the visual appeal to draw readers in. Hire a graphic designer who can help create your custom book cover. In this way, you can offer creative input while leaving the detailed and sophisticated design up to the professionals.
While every reader may not judge a book solely by its cover, a well-designed cover can certainly make an impact. Your book cover essentially invites the reader into your world. Thus, it is important that your cover makes a good first impression. A well-designed and appealing book cover can increase the sales of your book. While self-publishing, you would want to put your best face forward. Therefore, take your time, visualise and seek professional help to design a cover that no reader can ignore.