By: Marc Histand
A quick, 4 minute read.
It’s common to say that one should “never judge a book by its cover”. While that expression is true metaphorically, the literal translation of this expression is wrong. You should ALWAYS judge a book by its cover. The cover of your book is the first impression the reader will have, so it is unwise to overlook the importance of a clean, professional-looking cover. Writer’s Digest has always been the standard for the best advice in all-things books, so we should start by reviewing their best practices.
Now, let’s get specific.
First, people. STOP THINKING THAT ALL-WHITE COVERS LOOK GOOD!
This is my biggest pet peeve when speaking with authors about their book. Sure, a white cover will look GREAT when it is first printed, but after the first use, you’re stuck with a book that looks dingy and dull, with fingerprint marks clearly all over the cover. Instead of a bright white, consider a soft color such as a light mint green or sand. The book will look better and more appealing to the customers. After all, paper’s already white. Don’t you want to do a little better than that?
Alright, I was tough on you… now some tips, in a nice way.
- Be sure to recognize that the text on the cover must match the tone and overall theme of the book. It’s not JUST about that background image. Remember that true crime, noir, and other like genres will not be picked up if the text on the cover looks overly cartoony. There’s a line between bold & foreboding and cartoony & childish. Consider using a thinner, bold font instead of a wide font to demonstrate the book’s tone right off the bat.
- Full spread covers are your friend! Think of the book’s setting. Rolling plains? Several scenes at sunset? Fantastical wonderland? These all make excellent full cover
spreads,and don’t worry about the text on the back cover. Throw a light color behind all that text and fade it out so you can see both the text and the background.
- Since that last tip was more for the fiction writers out there, here’s one for the non-fiction writers. Typically, non-fiction books don’t use a full spread image, unless the text reviews a town that has a known, picturesque location. In these instances, simply keep this simple fact in mind: Designing a cover can’t just stop at placing one image on a solid background and calling it a day. Are you writing a biography or memoir? Find an image of a frame for that old picture that is perfect for your cover. Are you writing a medical book? Including multiple images of the concept being studied typically looks better than just one sample image.
I could give you another tip now, but where would the suspense be? Until then, take a look at what 99Designs has to say about what it takes to create a marketable cover.
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As one of the Author Success Consultants for AnewPress, it is my mission to ensure all authors have the tools they need to succeed in the self-publishing industry.