You’ve heard the expression, “don't judge a book by its cover,” but let’s be honest, a good cover design is a great way to draw in readers before they even get to the first page. When your future readers spot your book from across the bookstore or in the hand of a stranger, you want them to be intrigued! In no particular order, here are 7 tips to achieve a beautiful cover design that readers can’t help but judge (positively)!
Show What's Important
As the author, you know your book best—but this may mean that you want to include too much in the cover. Trying to show the audience your great characters, interesting settings, and crucial plot elements will result in a crowded, messy cover. You’ll need to narrow down your cover design to include only what is necessary. If you have difficulty figuring out what this is, ask an objective party to determine which aspect of the story should be featured on the cover.
Look at the book covers you like the most: what do you like about them? What draws you in? Adapting these aspects in your own cover design may help you to decide what works for you.
Consider Your Audience
Your book cover serves to appeal to a certain group of people, usually readers of the genre. If you write fantasy, your readers will be looking for a fantasy cover; if you write romance, your readers will be looking for a romance cover, and so forth. Each genre has distinctions. Utilizing these distinctions will signal to your target audience that this is a book they want to pick up.
Set the Tone
If you have no idea where to start, a quick bit of research into color theory will allow you to choose the perfect color palette for your book. Another way to indicate tone is to choose a photo or create/commission an illustration that matches the desired tone. If you decide to commission an artist, letting them know the story’s tone can greatly impact their final product, so make sure you are confident in the tone you want!
Choose Your Font Wisely
Your font is a great way of asserting both tone and genre easily. Sci-fi, romance, thriller, and self-help books will seldom all use the same font, so you want to ensure your chosen font is right for your book. If you need more options than the presets in your computer, there are plenty of websites offering free-use, downloadable fonts, just one Google search away.
Pay Attention to Trends
Book covers are not immune to trends. If you keep up with new releases in your genre, you might notice certain similarities in cover design that fluctuate every few years. These trends are another thing to keep in mind while designing your own book cover.
Following the trend might ensure an audience comes to your book, but creating something new might mean making yourself unique—or even starting a new trend! Either way, keep your finger on the pulse of cover trends and consider them as you go about designing.
Be Open to Critique
Before rushing to get your cover printed in mass, run it by someone! Ask your editor, local indie bookshop owner, librarian, literature teacher, etc., to judge your book by the cover. If they say they would consider buying it, what about the cover makes them say so? If they say they wouldn’t consider buying it, what about the cover makes them say so?
Answering the first question will help you to understand what is working and will make designing covers in the future that much easier. Answering the second question will help you make changes before sending your book to the shops.
So with these 7 tips in mind, go forth and design the perfect book cover!