Cover Design: The Essentials

Print book or e-book alike, you need to invest care, attention and good design in your choice of cover.

  • Keep it simple. Many self-published books are sunk by their author’s desire to embody all the symbolism on the cover; the over-the-top approach rarely works out well.
  • Gather a collection of covers that you like and work out what appeals about them. Are they similar to other covers in the same genre as your story?
  • Once you’ve arrived at a design you like, reduce it down to the size it will be when viewed on screen through sites like Amazon. Is it still active? Can you still read the title?
  • If you are creating both a print book and an e-book, it may help to use the branding from the print book but simplify it for the e-book version.
  • In a print book, don’t forget the back cover. The images can compliment the front, and the blurb is very important. The theory goes that in a bookshop it’s the front cover that attracts readers to pick up the book, but it’s the back cover that influences their decision to buy or not. And while you’re at it, remember the spine. After all, many books will be ‘spine out’ on a bookstore shelf, and the title/author combination needs to be legible from afar; the spine colour should also, ideally, harken to the front design.
  • E-books don’t have a back cover, of course, but they can have a ‘book wrapping’ with marketing and advertising at the back for other titles, and links on where to buy, or author blogs and references.

What do you look for in a good book cover?