I’ve always been interested in book covers and how they appeal to certain demographics. When self-published authors have to select a cover for their hard-won manuscript, they often have a concept in their minds already. But how to put it all together and make sure it’s quality? To me, relevancy is the key.
Most authors want their cover to stand out from the crowd, but that is rarely accomplished and may even be a bad thing. Using an unusual layout might catch more eyes, but does it keep them? If I have to work to read a cover, I assume it will be even more work to read the book. On to the next one.
There’s been a lot written about the features of a good cover, and there are no shortage of opinions. At The Book Designer, Joel Friedlander often has posts on book covers and how important they are. He even hosts a monthly contest for covers where he dishes out good advice.
The overall style of a cover depends on the subject and tone of the writing. You wouldn’t offer a black cover on a book of baby names, for example, or a photo of a baby on a cookbook (unless it was baby food!).
It also depends on where the book will be sold. If a book will be presented in a retail environment, the size isn’t as much of an issue. However, e-books are often offered on web sites as thumbnail images, thus a very clear (and large) title is crucial.
A good-quality photograph or illustration is important (if used), but making it absolutely relevant to the subject of the book is even more important. You may have an old photo you would love to use, but unless it is scanned in high-resolution and cleaned up (marks, folds, tears, shadows), it probably won’t work. Cover designer Tony Laidig recommends creating the cover in high-resolution, even if you plan to market the book as an e-book. You can always lower the resolution for screens, but you cannot increase resolution without serious issues. You might decide to offer the book as a paperback some day, and that cover will be important
Colors in themselves are very significant when designing anything. Look at the horror section of any book store and you’ll see mostly black and dark red, while the romance novels are lighter and appeal to women. Making it “striking” isn’t always necessary, but good use of space and a good color palette can go a long way.
Typeface can make or break a cover. Don’t use more than two fonts, but you may vary their size and weight. Again, relevance is necessary; don’t use a cutesy script typeface for a serious subject and vice versa. And for heaven’s sake, make the title large enough to read easily, even by those of us over 50.
I have collected quite a few ebook covers that I think are good ones, and you can peruse them any time on Pinterest.