Advice for Freelancers Who Want to Design Their Own Book Cover

The moment you’ve been working so diligently towards is finally here: you’ve finished your book! As soon as you wrote that last sentence, you started thinking about actual publication. Sure, you could employ a professional to design a book cover, but you’re pretty darn creative yourself, and want this book to truly be representative of who you are. The thing is, your book cover has to be about more than your own likes and dislikes – it has to be marketable to a general audience.

Vivid Vibes

Yes, yes, we all know that it’s the actual content of a book that matters. Yet, even the most well-intentioned consumers must admit that unless it’s a known title and/or by a famous author, the cover takes precedence in their purchasing decision.

Start by considering your cover’s color – darker colors, unless punctuated by some brighter colors here and there such as a bold white, have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle. Whether digital or physical, book covers with brighter colors generally get noticed more easily. Think of it this way: if you’re looking at a bunch of different books, and you only have so much time to scan things, the more vibrant covers would probably jump out at you first.

The thing is, though, if the colors are too bright, you risk obscuring the actual cover text. What to do? Check out some contrasting color combinations to strike just the right balance.

Tip: check out Cover Design Studio’s post, “Best Colors for Book Covers.”

Aim High Artistically

Designing a book cover has to be about more than stock photography (or, indeed, any photography) and pretty fonts. Go beyond the usual by creating sketches/drawings/vectors/paintings/collages/you get the idea that serve as visual representations of your book’s main theme. Then, narrow it down to one or two (for the back cover) and try different, legible fonts until you find the perfect complement.

Remember the Resolution

Your cover image has to have the correct resolution for both online and printed formats – including as a thumbnail. After all, pixelated images are no fun!

Tip: learn more about cover image sizing via Just Publishing Advice’s post, “Does Your Book Cover Work For You In Thumbnail Size?”

The Publisher’s Perspective

Whether they’re mainstream or independent, book publishers look for all of the above, plus certain front and back cover content. For the front, remember to have more than just a title and your name. Subtitles help to give readers a greater sense of what to expect, as does the summary on the back cover; both should be concise. Also for the back cover: include a recent headshot and a pull quote from your book. Don’t forget the spine, either, which should have the title, your name and that of the publisher you used (if applicable) as well as a corresponding logo (this is particularly true if you’re planning a book series).

Tip: read BookBaby’s blog post, “Judging a Book by Its Cover: What Book Publicists—and Media—Want to See on the Outside of a Book”

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