Planning to Fail with a Poor Book Cover

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1106 Design

March 01, 2012

I recently participated in a Facebook discussion with an author who had just posted a book cover. Her husband had created it, and the design was typical of book covers assembled by folks without design training or experience.

I thought:

‘Here’s an author who has spent a long time writing a novel. I’m sure she truly cares about her cover, and wants it to work hard to sell her book. I’m sure she understands that competition in the book world is brutal, and buyers will look at a cover for less than seven seconds before deciding which book to buy. Here’s an opportunity to explain the principles of book cover design, offer suggestions, and help someone succeed in the brutal world of publishing.’

This topic is always a great one for discussion online and so many people did jump in, offering their opinions.

Most knowledgeable people in the business agree that professional book cover design, crafted by someone with experience and training, will give you a better cover than doing it yourself. Unfortunately, there are a lot of uninformed people offering self-publishers the opposite advice.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when evaluating a book cover:

  • Make sure the typography complements the content of the book, as well as the the general appearance of other books in the genre.
  • Make sure that colors are used wisely. Read books about color harmonies and different methods to choose colors from your chosen image so you’ll know when your cover has that “just right” look.
  • Ensure, for the good of your book, that the overall composition of the cover is organized and the title STANDS OUT to draw potential buyers away from other titles displayed nearby (online or in store).
  • Study the bestsellers on Amazon (new releases as well as upcoming titles) and objectively compare the design to professionally designed titles. That’s what your prospective buyers will do.

So, what happened next in the discussion forum, after a number of professional designers offered their advice? Here is the author’s reply:

I took all the constructive criticism into consideration, made a few changes and then went with my gut. I’m not a “best seller” and don’t honestly expect to ever be one. Therefore, paying attention to everyone simply causes over thinking :-}

I left the discussion at this point, but consider this: Shouldn’t everyone involved in the self-publishing industry do their part to advance its credibility? Similar to your eyes being a window to your soul, a book cover is a peek into your writing. But beyond that, good covers translate into sales, and isn’t that one of the reasons you’re publishing a book in the first place?

Free advice is very scarce these days. If you find some, it pays to take advantage of it. When you are fortunate enough to be surrounded with book designers and creative people, it’s wise to listen, take notes and apply what you’ve learned.

At the end of the day, your success as a self-publisher may very well hinge on your willingness to heed the advice of those with experience in design, just as you sought the advice of others about your writing. MILLIONS of books are self-published each year, and a bad book cover should not be the reason you fail to realize your full potential as a writer.

I invite you to browse our site for a few minutes, view our portfolio, and review our services. Then pick up the phone, so you and I can craft a custom plan to put your book ahead of the do-it-yourselfers today!

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