On Book Covers: Introduction

So I’m starting off this blog with a week of posts on one of my favorite topics: Book Covers!

I love a good book cover. I basically have a crush on V.E. Schwab’s cover designer(s)

Graphic design is my day job, and book design is particularly near and dear to my heart. If you’re thinking of creating your own book cover for self-publishing, I hope these brief lessons can help you out.

This post started as a “Friday 5” about five core tenets of good cover design, but I quickly realized there was far too much to fit in a single post. So this will be split into a 6-day course. Today will be a brief overview, then each day I’ll cover one of the 5 core principles.

How important is the cover, really?

I’d wager it’s the single most important part of your book’s marketing. Your cover is your first impression on a reader, and it can absolutely make or break book sales. We all lie our heads off about the whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” adage. As general life advice, it’s great, but when it comes to actual books, we all do it anyway.

I do it too, maybe more so than the average reader. When it comes to covers, I can definitely be Judgey McJudgerson; it’s a natural byproduct of my career path. I will absolutely skip over a weak cover and stop at a professional-looking, captivating one.

Ideally, you’ll want to enlist the services of a freelance designer. They have an awful lot of experience and knowledge that goes way deeper than what I’ll discuss in this course. They also have the skills to put together something more unique and illustrative.

The good news: You can absolutely make a solid cover on your own, if you follow a few guidelines. And if you’re on a budget, you can do it without spending a dime. Throughout the week, I’ll share links to my favorite free resources, from layout programs to fonts to image libraries.

So what makes a good book cover?

A book cover has just scant moments to grab a reader’s attention. If I’m scrolling through Overdrive or Kindle, or checking out the new releases display at the bookstore, I’m not going to linger over every cover. I will skim over each one for a fraction of a second, scanning for the one that catches my eye.

I’ve narrowed down the aspects of an eye-catching cover into 5 main criteria:

  1. Clarity
  2. Genre
  3. Visual Impact
  4. Professionalism
  5. Uniqueness (But Not Too Much)

Keep your eyes peeled this week for posts on each of these in greater detail!

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