Should I Mock Up My Book Cover?

1106 Design

March 31, 2014
Some authors like to mock up their book covers as a way of thinking through what they
want. It’s not a bad idea, but your designer won’t expect you to provide a mock-up, so
it’s really unnecessary for you to go to the trouble of creating one.
Instead of mocking up your book cover, I’d like to suggest focusing on what you want
your cover to achieve and what message you want it to convey. You only have a few
seconds to attract a book buyer’s attention, and your book will be competing with
hundreds or thousands of others on the bookshelf or website. As such, your message must
be clear and stand out from the others.
There are several components to your cover’s “message,” including the book title and
subtitle, cover image, and fonts. The back cover should include persuasive text that
convinces the buyer this is the book he or she needs. Your title and image must reinforce
each other, so choose an image that ties in with your book’s title and is “on message.”
Look closely at the images you are considering to make sure they deliver a high level
of quality, and that there are no hidden messages or strange things going on that might
distract a book buyer. For example, one of my clients chose an image that included a
woman and some seagulls flying around her head. While the birds had nothing to do with
the book’s title or topic, they became the unintended focus, especially as one of them
appeared ready to attack the poor lady!
It’s a good idea to go to a bookstore and/or the Amazon.com website and search for
best sellers in your book’s genre. What sells? Note the images, colors, fonts, size of the
author’s name, book title, and the overall quality of the artwork. What messages do you
get from the book covers? Make some notes so that you can convey your thoughts to your
book designer and have a discussion about your message and goals. Remember that your
designer knows what sells books and will have some ideas as well.
By doing the legwork, you will end up with a great cover that will make you and your
book look good, and more importantly—sells!

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