What Makes a Great Book Cover? The Front

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

Ernest Hemingway

You have undoubtedly spent a lot of time writing your book; from dreaming up the concept to developing the characters, and creating the world they live in (fiction) or outlining the key steps in a process and coordinating reference materials (non-fiction). This is your baby so you must give it the best chance for success by creating the best cover possible.

Thus, you should hire a graphic designer for your cover. As much time and effort as you have put into writing your book, graphic designers have put into understanding the relationships between fonts, between colors, and between visual elements. And, yes, we hear it all the time, “I don’t have any money.”

That’s understandable … and that’s why we’re here to give you some guidance in designing your book cover. This will help you when you use tools such as Kindle Cover Creator or similar; or even when working with a designer.

1

Having a great book cover review blurb is one of the most important elements on your book cover. Let’s call it “the closer.” 

The book cover review blurb is typically a snippet of recommendation from someone with some notoriety in you genre or field. Jackie worked hard at developing relationship with a number of well-known people in her field and she chose a review blurb from Marcia Weider, CEO of Dream University® and also a best-selling author in the same genre. While this one is a bit longer than I would recommend, both Jackie and Marcia felt it was necessary to include the entire quote.

If you’ve read the article “Book Marketing Tips & Tricks, Part 1” on our sister site, Book Marketing Team you’ll know that finding the right book cover review blurb author takes time and, let’s say, chutzpah. Aim high, pick five, and start building a relationship with each of them. This means participating in the same forums as they do, review their books on Amazon, make comments on their socials: Facebook, Twitter, even their own websites … EVERYWHERE!

Then, when you are finished with a first edit, approach them and ask for a cover blurb. Remember, they may not respond or may not be able to do so; don’t take it personally, but take the risk.

2a

A clear, focused title that visible and “pops” off the cover is essential. Your title should instantly hint at what lies within.

Non-fiction and fiction have very different audiences who seek different information from a book title. Choosing a book title is a different puppy all-together, we’re going to focus on font choice. It does make a difference. 

In non-fiction, you’ll be more likely to use a serif font and stick within the same font family. Serif fonts tend to “feel” more corporate. Certain fonts, as well as certain colors, are also associated with specific industries. Financial companies tend to use the Times Roman font family and the color blue, usually a stone blue.

With Jackie’s book “Money Vibe” she straddles between a “financial” book and a “motivational” book. “Money Vibe” is about the “vibrational context of money within your life”; how you feel about it, how you think about it. It’s almost more motivational than “get rich quick.” So we chose a serif font that had more flair, more fun to it – Barbedor Thea.

This font is used for all of the key elements: Title, Sub-title, Sub-sub-title, and Author’s name. The cover review blurb is, you guessed it, Times New Roman. Why? Because this font carries with it a sense of authority, which is why the banks typically use it. 

The trick is to not use many fonts. Stick with two, possibly three. Remember though, that our brains see Arial, Arial Bold, and Arial Italic as three different fonts.

 

2b

We thought we should talk a bit about sub-titles, sometimes called tag-lines. 

Sometimes your title needs a little help. Maybe your title is too mysterious or too deep to really hint at what the book is about. For example, mystery author, Judy Nedry’s fourth book was in a slightly different genre. Judy is known for her Emma Golden Mysteries series that falls in the “cozy mysteries” genre; where-as her fourth book, “Blackthorn” wasn’t in that genre.

“Blackthorn” as a title is also relatively meaningless. Thus the sub-title became “a gothic thriller” and now it has meaning and tells her fans and audience to expect something different.

In the case of “Money Vibe” – well, frankly, it’s a bit fuzzy – so we back it up with a tagline “Your Financial Freedom Formula” and even a sub-subtitle, “whether you have money or not.” Thus it’s a book about your vibe about money and how to create a certain freedom from money woes and that this book isn’t necessarily about financial advice.

3

Let’s talk about color. Financial institutions are associated with stone blue.  Think of it a blue with a little grey thrown in for good measure. #336699 is the hexadecimal code for this color. However, when we “regular folks” think of money and finances, we think of green.

In Jackie’s case, our main element – the whirl – is bright, vibrant green. Her book is about the vibe of money and vibe isn’t felt with dark colors. Design-wise, all that brightness, the green circle, the white background needed to be balanced so we brought in one of her favorite colors, purple, to create that balance.

This brings us to the main book cover image. For “Money Vibe” we wanted something with a deeper meaning than the way-to-direct image of bills and coins, or a well-dressed couple on a tropical beach. We ultimately chose an image akin to the Zen circle to reflect wholeness, completion, and a relaxed state.

Your cover image should do the same. Whether non-fiction or fiction, the cover image should scream your genre, the feelings you want your audience to believe they will have, and sell the book when it’s a tiny image in Amazon’s pages. Your cover image should give your audience the “feels.”

4

Please don’t get butt-hurt over this next statement. The author is the least important element on the cover; unless, of course, you are Stephen King or James Patterson. We’re not saying “Don’t put your name on your work.” we’re simply saying that the name itself doesn’t sell the book.

There are exceptions, of course. Such as, if this is a second book by you. As you can see, we made specific mention of Jackie’s previous best-selling book, “Calming the Chaos” underneath her name. Or, for Judy Nedry it was “Author of the Acclaimed Emma Golden Mysteries.”

This is as much a selling point as, what we used to call in the music biz, a “stroke” (as in “ego stroke”). Your name becomes more important to potential readers when they know you have written a book before.

The Conclusion … Until Part 2

There you have it, the somewhat definitive guide to creating a fantastic book cover design!

Just keep in mind these take-aways:

  • Select the fonts and font family suited to your genre.
  • Don’t use more than two or possibly three fonts.
  • Choose a main image that instills in your potential audience the feelings they should get within the book.
  • Choose colors appropriate to your genre.
  • Remember that the cover needs to scream “Buy Me!” in the packed pages of Amazon. Make it stand out.

We’d love to hear what you think and what your experiences have been.

One thought on “What Makes a Great Book Cover? The Front

  1. Pingback: What Makes a Great Book Cover? The Back – Book Cover Design Team

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