Every author wants the perfect cover for their book.
A cover that will sell copies!
And that’s the frame of mind you need to have when it comes to your book cover design concept.
What is a concept in graphic design?
Although the answer to this question may seem pretty straight forward, it’s not. Your cover design concept is how you show the world what they can expect from your book. What you need is a plan that integrates images, fonts, content, and context. Content is the value your readers will derive from the book. Context is the circumstances of your book, its environment, and its genre.
What won’t sell copies?
There are a lot of things a designer will tell you that you shouldn’t do in concept design. But the three following things will get you by to start.
A scene from your book:
Although it can be seriously tempting to want to use a great scene from your book as the cover design, it will not translate to the viewer. You want to communicate through your design what the reader will get out of the book. Your cover should express your genre and what the book delivers.
Too much information:
You might think that in order to communicate your story to the reader, you will need several different images put together in one busy design. Bad idea! Too much for the eyes and mind to absorb in a flash of a second is distracting. You want to keep it simple.
A lack of cohesion:
Fonts matter. Don’t use common fonts that come with Word. That’s a design no-no. Go get some custom fonts. Use the same font and size for your author name on every book and place your name in the same spot on every book. Don’t use more than three fonts. Make sure the first and second fonts don’t clash. They should be in the same family of fonts. And it goes without question that you shouldn’t use custom fonts that will clash with your genre. If you are working on a series of books, you should follow a common theme and use the same fonts on all of them. Until you’re famous, you may want to steer clear of unique cover designs and instead go with the feel of your genre.
Where to start?
The best place to start is on Amazon. Go research books in your genre that are selling and see what the popular cover styles are.
- What do they have in common?
- What mood do they convey?
- Can you clearly discern the genre of the books?
- What types of fonts are they using?
- What is the focal point of these designs? (a person, an object, etc.)
- What is the design layout?
- What are the color pallets? (notice that no covers will use pure black or pure white)
- How do the covers make use of light and shadow?
- What does all of the above tell you about each book?
This might seem like cheating, and no one wants to look like everyone else out there. However, your cover is the first chance you get to sell your book. Your first chance to capture the readers’ attention. If the cover catches their eye and the blurb is good, it’s a sale.
Now get busy!
So, for those just starting out in their publishing careers, go with what’s working for others. Your cover will still maintain its own uniqueness but will be clearly recognizable in its genre.
Make sure your cover has a 1/8-inch bleed.
Don’t buy any images until you are happy with one of your concepts. Just right click on stock photos and save them with the watermark. These will work fine for the concept. Just remember where you found them.
When you’re ready to put together the final designs, purchase your images and fonts. Keep a word file with thumbnails of your images and paste the copyright information below them. You’ll need all that copyright info from your images and fonts to show on the copyright page of your book.
Keep your original images and use copies for designing in case you screw up.
Make sure you save your final design in CYMK so the colors remain true when printed.
CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black. It is a term most often used in printing as these colors are mixed in the printing process to create the colors of a document. RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. Both RGB and CMYK are modes for mixing color in graphic design. As a quick reference, the RGB color model is best for digital work, while CMYK is used for print products.
Good luck and have fun!
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