Writing a book is not easy. It takes a lot of passion and guts to offer it to the world, no matter what the topic is or how your writing process took place. Once you’ve finalized the last word, all you can think about is seeing it with a giant Buy Now button beside it, ready to be read by millions.
Unfortunately, before anyone is going to read your masterpiece, they’re going to have to be convinced that it’s worth their time to read. That job is done, in large part, with your book cover. Even though we were all cautioned from a young age to never judge a book by its cover, we all do it anyways.
There are five steps to creating a book cover design that makes it impossible for the right person to put it down, helping to increase book sales with every view.
- Choose a showstopping image.
- Get your fonts straight.
- Understand your color scheme.
- Look great at any size.
- Find the balance between standing out and fitting in.
Let’s look a little bit closer at what makes a book stand out and how to use your book cover design to increase book sales.
What Makes A Great Book Cover Design
The most important purpose of your book cover is to tell your audience what the book is about and convince them that it’s the one and only book they need to read on the subject.
Whether you’ve written the next best diet and weight loss manual or the most thrilling romance of the century, your perfect reader will be drawn in by the cover of your book. Or not.
A great book cover design needs to capture the right person’s attention, piquing their curiosity enough to get them to read the title. And then the subtitle. From there, the description or back matter takes over. But before they’ll ever read a single word, you need to capture their attention and hold onto it.
How To Design A Book Cover
Yes, making sure you have a killer title full of keywords and placing your book in the right category and genre are important steps to getting seen by your ideal readers. But when your cover flashes by, you’ve only got a few seconds to stand out against your competition.
Once you’re a worldwide best-selling author with millions of raving fans, your books will be read because of your reputation. Until then, there are a few, fairly simple, ways to make sure your book stands out from all the rest.
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
Not all book covers use images, but those that do choose them very carefully and with a specific purpose.
The image on the cover of your book shouldn’t compete with your title, but should complement it. Simple images that are emotive work best, creating an instant connection or pull with your readership.
Any image you choose should relate to the content of your book. Use the cover picture to show your audience what they should expect from the content inside. Book covers aren’t always about looking pretty. They should be relevant as well as attractive. Sometimes scary, cringeworthy, or even disgusting is more relevant to attract the right audience.
There are plenty of stock photo sites that you can visit to find the perfect imagery for your book cover. Some of our favorites include:
- Free: pexels.com
- Free: pixabay.com
- Free/Paid: canva.com
- Paid: depositphotos.com
- Paid: shutterstock.com
Typography Makes Perfect
The fonts you choose for your cover tell just as much of a story as the images. Can you imagine buying a book of nursery rhymes for a four-year-old when the font on the book cover design looks like it’s full of bullet holes? How well do you think a psychological self-help book will sell if it’s showcasing lettering that looks like it’s meant to train toddlers on their ABCs?
These are obviously extreme examples, but the lesson is the same: font choices matter. Fonts evoke emotions. Some are serious; whereas, others are romantic or aggressive. If the font for your book doesn’t match the content, you risk the right audience getting the wrong impression.
Typography is more than just the font itself. It’s also the size and placement of the fonts you choose. You need to make sure that your title and any additional information you choose to include is legible and presented in the correct hierarchy of importance.
Similar to stock images, you can find a variety of fonts to elevate the uniqueness and quality of your book cover design. Just be sure to check that the usage rights include commercial use.
One of the most common questions children ask when they’re getting to know each other is, “What is your favorite color?” Color tells us so much about a person, and even more about a book. Color evokes emotions just like images and fonts do.
Sometimes, the psychology is simple. Green reminds us of trees and grass and nature, so it’s a great color for books about healing. Red, on the other hand, is known to be a very passionate color, so even though it would stand out and call attention to your cover, it might be the wrong kind of attention if you’ve written a book about fertility or training horses.
When color is used strategically, along with a great image and the perfect typography, your book cover design will tell a cohesive story, selling your audience on the quality of your book before they’ve even read the descriptive copy.
It’s no surprise that Amazon is one of the biggest markets for publishing a book, but even if you’re not planning on joining KDP exclusively, your book cover needs to work on many levels, and at many different resolutions.
Specifically, you want to be sure that it will make an impact, even when it’s thumbnail size. When you’re trying to stand out against all the others on the Top 20 results page in the Kindle store – or iBooks, Nook, Play, or even Kobo – making sure that your title is legible and that any images you want to stand out are clear when the image is reduced to the size of your thumb can mean the difference between crawling up the rankings of that page or falling off it.
Stand Out, But Only So Much
By now, hopefully you can see why standing out from your competition can turn potential readers off just as easily as it can make your book irresistible.
Book cover designs should give readers what they expect of the genre, so in some ways, they need to fit in. But they also need to give the very exacting impression that your book is the best book out of all the other books on the subject.
A great way to make sure you fit in as well as stand out is to look at what the other best sellers in your genre are doing. Then, do it better.
Sometimes, hearing someone tell you the potential mistakes helps you visualize best practices better, so you may find the above video helpful.
There is an art to balancing this fine line, and that is exactly why great book cover designers are in hot demand. Having the perfect design for your book cover is one of the simplest ways to drive and increase book sales. Investing in a professional designer can help you on your way up.
Hiring A Book-Cover Designer
Getting all the right words out onto paper is the work of an author. That’s your job. Wrapping it up like a present for your beloved is the work of a book-cover designer.
Knowing the basics of how to design a book cover in order to increase book sales will help you pick the right designer for your cover. There are a few other criteria to keep in mind.
Choosing the Right Book Cover Designer
Whenever you look for a new designer to work with, it’s a good idea to see samples of their work in your genre. A designer who has helped a cozy mystery author capture the attention of a raving audience won’t necessarily know how to do the same for a doctor publishing on the topic of integrative healing practices.
If your designer happens to enjoy reading the genre you write, all the better. The more familiar they are with your genre, the better they’ll be able to intuit what your readers will relate to.
That being said, a designer who knows how to research the genre and come up with fresh and appropriately fitting designs can be just as effective. Seeing their portfolio is your best chance at getting a feel for whether their design style will match what you’re searching for.
If you choose to work with an agency, your personal contact will help pair your book with the right member of their team to get you the results that you’re looking for without any additional effort or time commitment on your part.
Communicating with Your Book Cover Designer
The most important piece of any business relationship is to feel comfortable talking with each other. You need to be able to ask questions of your designer and feel comfortable with their response. Working with a designer who’s confident enough to ask you questions in return is another great sign.
Working with agencies can help you bridge this gap as well.
The more details you can give the designer about your subject matter, the better. Designers are adept at pairing the images, fonts, and colors that we previously discussed, so you don’t want to micromanage the minute details. But you do want to tell your designer what your book is trying to accomplish. Some questions to be prepared for might include:
- Who is your ideal reader?
- What feelings or tone do you want to be associated with your book? Trust? Humor? Suspense?
- What genre and category does your book fit into?
- If it’s nonfiction, is it written using industry lingo or is it accessible to anyone who reads it?
- For fiction books, are there are specific characters or locations that you’d like represented? What do they look like? What feelings do they evoke?
Final Thoughts About Book Cover Design
The hardest thing for any author to do is to realize that, if you want to sell your book or increase book sales, it matters less what you personally think of the book cover design and much more what your ideal readers think.
It can be difficult letting go of any vision you might have, but ultimately, the cover of your book is one of the most powerful sales tools you have at your disposal. Combining the right images, fonts, and colors to capture a potential reader’s attention is a skill.
You can certainly use a tool to bring your personal vision to life, and with the information you’ve just learned, you’ll probably design something spectacular. But you might also want to consider the rewards of hiring someone who makes it their life’s mission to help authors like you design book covers that sell.