How to Write a Great Book Cover

You’ve worked so hard on creating a work that people will love. Now all you need is something to convince people they should read what you’ve created.
 
The cover of your book is the first thing potential readers see. Though creating a book cover may seem like haphazard combinations of fonts, colors, and images that just sit nicely with its creator, there is science and mechanism behind the creation of a book cover.
 
Most people know the commonly used expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The fact of the matter is, your book willbe judged by its cover. Try as you might to fight this nugget of truth, there isn’t any getting around it. Your book cover is a visual representative of what is written on the pages inside. Since the cover of a book is the very first thing that meets the reader’s eye, the message it conveys should be clear and should align with the story unfolding within.
 
In the words of accomplished book cover designer Chip Kidd, “A book cover is a distillation of the content, almost like what your book would look like as a haiku.”
 

Know Your Audience

The design of a book cover is a science as well as a fine art. Different aesthetics will appeal to different types of people. When you’re in the process of designing your book cover, your target audience needs to be taken into account.
 
Your book cover is, essentially, a marketing strategy to your audience. The words on the inside should have everything to do with your color scheme, typography, and format. Ask yourself what your audience should expect from your book, and then make sure the cover is designed appropriately to give what the reader expects from you.
 

Font Type Matters

The font in which your book title will be displayed is equally as important as the rest of your cover. If we’re being realistic, you should know that no one likes Comic Sans. If this were a do’s and don’ts list, using Comic Sans or Papyrus fonts would definitely be at the top of the don’t list. The font you choose should grab the reader’s attention, but it’s a good idea to stick with only one type of font, or two at the most.
 

Remember the Back Cover

With all the talk about fonts, colors, and imagery on the front cover, you don’t want to leave out the back cover. The back cover is made for a short blurb or small description of your book. This is a sales pitch to make potential readers understand why they need to buy yourbook.
 
The goal of the back-cover blurb is to leave the reader wanting more.When you write the blurb, give the reader enough information to grab their attention, but don’t give away too much. Leave them with some vague idea of what’s to come. You want to compel them to open it and see the resolution for themselves.
 
Of course, keeping the reader’s attention is almost as important as gaining it. You don’t want to lose the reader’s attention before they even leave the back cover. A general rule to go by is to write in short paragraphs so it’s easier for the reader to scan.
 
Say what you will, but a great example of an effective back cover blurb comes from Stephanie Mayer’s Twilight:
 
“About three things I was absolutely positive.
 
First, Edward was a vampire.
 
Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how
dominant that part might be – that thirsted for my blood.
 
And the third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably
In love with him.”
 

Get Professional Help

While all the above are good pieces of advice to follow, you should get professional help. Professional designers can help you appeal to your target audience with the right colors and images that are attractive to that audience. An experienced artist will have more knowledge about the things that draw readers in. If you have plans of your own for your book cover, remember that just because it is appealing to you doesn’t mean it will appeal to everyone.
 
If you want a good design but don’t have a few thousand dollars to shell out to an independent artist, there are still some options for you. You can still find some professional help on websites like Fiverror Upwork for a lower cost.
 
Hiring a professional doesn’t mean you have to give up your ideas entirely. Find artwork that appeals to you, and that can reveal your aesthetic to your artist. Take a look at other book covers similar to yours and even some that aren’t. Take note of the things you think are effective and what isn’t. Communicating with your artist will help you be able to achieve the perfect look that will satisfy you as well as the reader.
 
Have you published a book? How did you go about designing a cover? To whom did you turn for help? Share your comments and experiences in the comments below.

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(2) comments

I relied upon guidance from Dan Poynter’s books on writing nonfiction. He has a great guideline for covers! Check out his Self-Publishing Manual (Vol I and II) and Writing Non-fiction: TUrning Thoughts into Books.

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    Thanks for the recommendation Virginia.

    Reply
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