By Karen Saunders
According to “The Wall Street Journal”, “The average bookstore browser who picks up a book spends eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds reading the back.” You can’t tell—but you can sell—a book by its cover.” Here are a few powerful book cover design techniques that professional book designers use:
The essential elements for your front cover
The front cover presents your book title, subtitle, and your name. Golden opportunities often overlooked are including endorsements and short testimonials from VIPs.
Think of your cover like a billboard. The best designs communicate the book’s message at a glance, with simple, uncluttered design. Unique, distinctive, bold, colorful graphics work well. But keep the graphic style consistent with the content and personality of the book. Make sure there is a central focal point to your design. Book cover design is a form of packaging—and good packaging attracts buyers to products. Click To Tweet
I recommend using bold, contrasting lettering on the front cover. When choosing colors, consider how these colors will look when converted to black and white so your cover will reproduce well in black and white ads, catalogs, and flyers. Also make sure the font you use for the title is legible from a distance and appropriate for the book’s subject.
Covers that scream “amateur” and have a “made-at-home look” make it difficult to sell your book at all. If you lack talent in this area, seek the services of an experienced book cover designer. A professional designer has the creativity, skills, software, access to stock photography, and printing knowledge that will make your cover stand out above others in the marketplace.
What should you put on your spine
Your name, book title, and publishing company logo show up on the spine. Make sure the information on the spine is clean, uncluttered, and legible. I recommend using bold, contrasting lettering on the spine as well.
Critical items you should include on your back cover
Place the category name in the upper left-hand corner to help bookstores shelve your book properly. Write a headline that clearly addresses who should buy the book. It should be followed by sales copy explaining what the book is about. Then provide a short bulleted list of benefits to readers.
I recommend including no more than three testimonials and endorsements, as well as your bio and photograph. Close to the bottom, put “sales-closer” copy in bold print. Position the price in the lower left corner of the back cover. Also include the 13-digit ISBN number for cataloging and the bar code in the lower right corner (below ISBN number), which stores use for scanning information and price.
Don’t forget to include credits for your book cover’s illustrator, photographer, and/or designer.
What goes on the inside flaps (If Applicable)
- Sales copy
- Short “teaser” description of the book
- Your bio and photo
You now have a good idea of what makes a strong book cover design. Remember, book cover design is a form of packaging—and good packaging attracts buyers to products. That’s why successful organizations spend millions researching and developing the best product packaging possible.
Karen Saunders is the author of the e-book, “Turn Eye Appeal into Buy Appeal: How to easily transform your marketing pieces into dazzling, persuasive sales tools!” Karen has produced thousands of successful marketing projects and has designed the covers of 18 books that have become best-sellers or won awards, including a “Writer’s Digest” Grand Prize winner for the best self-published book in America. Contact her at 888-796-7300.