When it comes to designing your own book covers, getting it right matters.
But you can do it on your own.
You don’t have to hire a professional designer.
In this article, you’ll learn the ten basic things you should avoid when creating your own book cover. No big words, no fancy descriptions, what you’ll find here is direct and to the point, so you don’t need a design degree to understand and get started quickly.
When designing your own book cover the last thing you want is for your cover to look like you did it yourself or had a family member do it for you.
It may sound harsh, but too many authors write amazing work only to have it unsuitably represented to the market. They might be great writers but their DIY book covers discourage sales.
When it comes to graphic design, your own personal preference should not weigh in. It doesn’t matter that purple is your favorite color, it may not go with a cover that’s meant to communicate the overall message of your book, a cover that should generate sales. There is little to no room for subjectivity in graphic design.
Another example of subjectivity is a desire to put a specific scene from your book on the cover. This is a book cover disaster. You will understand the message because you know your book inside and out. A prospective buyer will not understand the context of the scene and will probably overlook the book altogether. If your cover does not clearly communicate its overall message, the chances of getting a reader to buy your book at first glance are lost. Remember, the cover is the first impression that makes the reader dig further and eventually buy.
That first glance intake should also communicate the genre of your book. If it doesn’t, you’re not sending a clear message.
When a reader is searching through mounds of books for something to read that looks interesting, the genre always plays a role in their choice. If you miscommunicate the genre of your book the chances of it attracting the right readers will mostly slip by.
A cover that is too simplistic doesn’t have a great potential to catch a reader’s eye and make them want to dig deeper. Simplicity in design might work for well-known authors, but the chances of that style capturing an audience for a new or upcoming author is not likely.
To see the truth in this you can do your own search in different genres and see what cover styles are selling with mostly unknown authors. The styles you see in that search are typically the styles that are working to help generate sales.
Swinging to the other end of the spectrum is just as bad if not worse than simplicity. A book cover that is too busy can be viewed as distracting and unworthy of further investigation. With these types of covers, there is just too much going on.
You only have about one second to grab the reader’s attention visually. A cover that is too full of design elements might just come off as if you puked it out, repelling a potential reader.
One way you can usually tell that a book cover is homemade is through the imagery. Low-quality images are not worth the money you are spending for the license to use them. Most times, higher quality images or photos come at the same cost. Shop around.
When you are searching for digital art or photos to use on your cover, try a different method of searching to find the right images. What keywords are you using, maybe you should try other keywords that are relevant to the theme of your book, and definitely relevant to its genre.
You don’t need to find a ready-made cover that’s just lacking text. The software programs available for graphic design make you capable of much more. You can choose a photo of a model, add them to the appropriate backdrop, and add other simple elements, like flowers or guns, etc.
Purchasing the license to use a photo, vector, or illustration is typically pretty straight forward. But there are certain types of images that are not allowed to be used. You need to know what copyright your images are subject to. Below is a link you should check out to be sure you know the basics of what can’t be used on your cover. You might be surprised.
There is such a thing as using too many fonts on your graphic design. Up to three is okay. One specific custom font for the title. One generic, yet custom font for the subtitle, and a custom font that brands your author name. You don’t want to make your author name look too fancy, it should not stand out above the title of your book. You should also use the same font and style for your author name on all of your books unless you are publishing in different genres.
Speaking of fonts, a weak hierarchy of the text on your book can miscommunicate your message and confuse potential readers. This hierarchy is not just found in different pieces of text but throughout all of the design elements on your cover.
Hierarchy is a term for what carries visual weight from the heaviest element to the lightest in your design. This hierarchy will dictate the viewer’s eye as they take in what’s to be seen. With their gaze flowing from the heaviest elements to the lightest. This is how they absorb your message, through a “sentence” of visual hierarchy.
When you think you’ve got a great concept layout, always check to see if the cover is clear in thumbnail size. No matter how great you think your design might be, if it isn’t clearly communicating in thumbnail size, it won’t grab attention on a book sales platform.
Communicating what the reader can expect to get out of reading your book is your most important objective in cover design.
If you stick to these ten rules of what not to do in cover design, you will be well on your way to creating a great book cover.
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