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You may be ready to take a step back from the creative process after completing your book, but several items remain on your to-do list. One of the most important components of the book publishing process is the design and selection of your book’s cover. Whether you choose to design the cover yourself or you select someone to oversee the design for you, the result must be eye-catching. While the familiar adage says you should never judge a book by its cover, most people often do.
If your book cover fails to appeal to potential readers, you may see a decrease in sales, regardless of how well your book was written. Key pieces of information must be kept in mind during the design process to ensure you are appealing to your target market, and to those who are simply browsing in a bookstore and stumble across your story. To avoid the pitfalls accompanying a bad book cover design, follow these helpful steps.
Understanding Your Subject
Independent and self-published authors who want to design their own book cover are deeply familiar with the subject of the story as they are the ones who created the content. Understanding the subject of a book is essential to selecting the right cover design prior to publication. The cover is used to convey crucial information including the author’s name, the title of the book, and an image that reflects what the story is about. The book cover is the reader’s first impression of the book itself; thus it must reflect what the reader is going to find out once he or she begins reading.
When working with an artist to design the cover for your book, choose someone who has read the story and understands the message you are conveying through your writing. If the artist does not ultimately understand your subject, he or she is not going to produce a cover that is reflective of your book. Notable cover designers, such as Peter Mendelsund, work tirelessly to ensure they are grasping the subject of the book before they begin their initial designs. Medelsund often takes notes inside the margin of the page, or removes pages from the book entirely, to ensure that he is grasping the author’s subject appropriately.
If your book cover does not ultimately reflect the subject of your story in some way, it may prove confusing to readers, which impacts sales of your book. Be sure to select a cover design that teaches the reader something about the story you have created and be sure to reflect your chosen genre as well. Authors who are publishing a children’s book should select a design that appeals to children and to adults, since the children are going to read the books and the parents are going to buy the books.
Understanding Your Audience
Expanding on the idea of understanding your subject to choose the right book cover, understanding your audience is an essential part of the process as well. Authors who write a gripping crime novel should generally stay away from book cover designs that are vibrant and colorful. Readers who commonly enjoy crime novels are likely going to be put off by a cover design that contrasts the nature of the story they are reading. If you are writing a book appearing in a specific genre, be sure to select a cover design that is reflective of this genre to ensure you are appealing to your target audience.
This requires added research to better understand your audience and how to appeal to this group of people. Fiction writers who want to appeal to a specific demographic benefit from researching this group in advance to determine what these readers ultimately look for when browsing through different titles. Some readers may be drawn in by a cover featuring a large image, whereas others prefer covers that have a typeface featured more prominently. By understanding what your target audience is looking for in advance, you can best design and select a book cover that appeals most to your chosen demographic.
Choosing the Right Designer
Authors who choose to have an artist design a book cover for them must be mindful of who they select for this opportunity. Speak with authors in your chosen genre and see if these writers can provide you with recommended artists they have worked with in the past. If you love a book cover, determine who created the design and contact them to discuss the option of working together to design your book cover. Working with an artist to create the best design for your book cover is an ongoing collaboration and it is best to be involved throughout the process to ensure you achieve the right result.
Prior to having an artist design your cover, be sure to provide him or her with anything that is needed to best understand your vision. If you do not have the option of providing the book itself to the artist, supply a plot summary of the book and the general message you hope to convey in your writing. Tell your artist which genre your book falls under to ensure he or she is creating a cover that appeals to the right audience. If you like a specific image or font, discuss this with the artist in advance as this helps avoid conflict and repeated attempts to find the right cover.
Book Covers Grab Attention
Great book covers ultimately help achieve sales goals because they appeal to readers on a profound level. Oftentimes, readers who are unsure of what to read next will select a book purely based on what the cover looks like, which means you have the chance to appeal to these readers through your cover selection. Not only do you want your book cover to reach your target audience, but you want your book to stand out from all others in your selected genre. One of the easiest ways to achieve this goal is to select a unique book cover.
Selecting the right book cover provides you with the opportunity to appeal to reviewers and it allows your marketing materials to stand out. Be sure to select a book cover that looks good regardless of size, as you still want the cover to look appealing when it is printed in literary magazines, newspapers, and reviews. By choosing a visually appealing book cover, you are setting yourself up for success once your book is published.