Ten secrets on creating a book cover that attracts the masses

The cover is the face of your book: Coveted tips from a professional book cover designer on how to make that first (and successful) impression

©BCP

©BCP

  1. Don't clutter your cover. Keep it simple and focused. Book browsers are ADD by nature - it has to grab their attention NOW. In a world full of graphic pollution, less is more. If your front cover is full of photos, text, or fancy fonts, it will be too much information to compute and it won't get noticed. Think in terms of billboards to drivers. Your book cover needs to be absolutely clear and understood in 6 seconds or less. On the web, it needs to be legible and well read at thumbnail size. When perusing books, the viewer will see either your spine or front cover first. Then if they like what they see, they will flip it over and read the back. Keep your book's back page description down to 3 paragraphs. 
  2. Keep your title short and large. A good rule of thumb is a two-to-three word title; with an optional smaller one-line sub-title. Avoid fancy script fonts that don't reduce clearly. Use san-seriffed or semi-seriffed fonts. The spine should be readable five feet away.
  3. Avoid pure white backgrounds. These blend into a website and look strange. If you insist on white, consider a colored border for definition. On the flip side, avoid going crazy with colored backgrounds. Your best bet: One flat color.
  4. Keep your color scheme simple. Imagine designing a book cover like you would paint a home: A base color, trim color, and embellishment color. The colors should complement each other and work with the image. Go for contrast and complement the context: Black backgrounds with white text for example is dramatic; mysterious—Murder mysteries, dark romance. Bolder colors make a profound statement. Pastel or lighter colors imply a lighter, happier tone.
  5. Research book covers in your genre. Go to Amazon and peruse the top-selling books. What grabs your attention?
  6. Big name mentions. If you can obtain a foreword or blurb by a famous person or popular trade magazine, give it a prominent place on your front cover - but shorten it if it's too long. This gives instant credibility and has an immediate positive effect.
  7. Be inspired by other book covers in your genre. Do your research on successful books - Look at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or peruse your local bookstore. What stands out? What qualities do the bestsellers share?
  8. The flaps count. For book jackets, don't overlook the selling potential of the flaps. Consumers typically read the front, spine, back, then open up to the flaps for more information. Here is a great place for your bio, other books you've written, website, etc.
  9. Give yourself a review. Print out your cover on a full color printer to gain perspective on what the consumer will see. Set it 5-10 feet away. Is it legible? Clean? Does it grab attention out of the corner of your eye?
  10. Friends & Family. Give your cover to your most scrupulous circle, and get their honest opinion. Would they buy this book based on the cover alone? What are their suggestions?