What’s in a book cover design?

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Missing_wraparound_print_cover (1) 1040

Professional design  above versus my version

Missing Cover 2

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Professional design  above versus my version


Deadly Journey. Due for publishing early 2014

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Professional design  above versus my version


The answer is everything…Your book cover is the packaging that it going to sell your product that it contains.  It is clear from the examples above, that my own skills fall short in this respect, when compared to contracting the skill sets of a designer.

There is a basic principle in advertising that applies equally to books. Just look at ads in your local newspaper. The well-informed advertisers work to three principles. Whom it is, what it is and where to get it. All other marketing jargon and arty-farty creativity are bullshit, unless the purpose of the ad is brand awareness. You must always have the basics in mind when commissioning a designer, to be able to give them a clear undertaking of what you require and leave them to use their creativity around that. If you are designing the cover yourself, then just pray your creative juices will enhance the basics. I have to say though, that cover design is the one item on your list that if you have a budget, it is best left to the professionals. I think I struck lucky with the design of Lunch Break Thrillers. However, the cover for Survival Instinct left a lot to be desired. I knew how I wanted it to look, but didn’t have the software or the expertise to realize my concept at the time. Fortunately, when I scraped the budget together, the end result was well worth it and paid dividends.

The development of eBook technology and the sites that distribute eBooks have set size parameters that have caught out many designers of books. Books that caught the eye on the bookstore shelf can look bland on the web page and unless you are a fan searching out a writer, the book can be easily overlooked. I would always recommend designing the eBook cover first and make sure that it is clearly visible as a thumbprint.

So how do the basics apply to all book covers? Simple, but first take a look at eBook covers as the information for the customer to make a decision about buying is fragmented and slightly different to the printed book. Your name is your brand, your title is what it is and if it is an eBook, the click on the cover will take you to where you can get it and will provide further information to allow you to make a decision to buy, or not.

In the case of paper books, the customer will have everything in their hands to make the decision, through the cover, the book blurb, the author’s bio and sample reading, but as in the case of both media, it is like being on that first date … there has to be that initial spark to explore the possibilities.

If you take the brand, you may be unknown now, but your name is going to be your brand. All that implies, is that you will be known for writing in a certain style and in a certain genre. If you take care of the quality of your product then you will become a trusted brand and recommendations will follow. When designing your cover be sure to have one eye on future publications. By positioning your name where it will appear on all your books, including the spine and in the same font style, it will make your brand easily recognizable as your reader base grows. The positioning of your name on the spine is perhaps the most important. Just think how it would look with a number of your books on your own bookshelf.

Titles are… ‘what it is’ and should give some clue as to the content of your story. The same is true of any background design.

I think the, ‘where to get it’, is self-explanatory. In all cases, you will have been enticed by a need, possibly influenced by outside sources, or marketing to arrive at the location to purchase.

So what other influence can determine your choice of design? For this, you need to research your genre. However, it doesn’t stop there. Ask the question, will a design for the American market suit the British market? You may be surprised by the answer.

‘Who am I to give advice?’ you say. All I can say is, I have researched the subject of covers over the last two years. ‘Will the information guarantee success?’ you say. Hell no, but it will put you in with a fighting chance in what is a highly competitive market.

Try the link in the sidebar at the bottom for further insights into cover design (Success and Failures.) I will add more as I find them.


© Declan Conner and declanconner.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of all or any material, or articles and guides published on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Declan Conner and declanconner.com with appropriate and specific link direction to the original content.


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