So, you’ve finished writing your book (or you’re in the midst of it) and it’s an absolute masterpiece (of course it is, right?). But you haven’t started working on your book cover just yet and you really aren’t sure what you’re going to do about it or how you’re going to get the design just right. So what do you do? Well there are a few things you need to think about and focus on so your cover will be exactly what you want it to be.
The first thing is to start with the easy stuff. What’s the title of your book? How are you going to put your title, your name and a tagline on the cover? Try to work out things like your font size and the type of font. You may need to change these things as well as the actual color and placement as you keep working but having a basic idea of what you want right now will help.
Focus on One Thing
Don’t make your cover a whole bunch of things all at the same time. Even if your book itself has a kind of convoluted plot or story you still want to be able to understand the cover. So try to focus on one central theme or element and work from there. You’ll keep your readers happier and you’ll have more people looking at your book thinking it looks good.
Your Editor Knows More Than You
If your editor says your cover really isn’t working and they want a professional to take a shot at it then they know best. Remember, your editor has been doing this a whole lot longer than you and they’ve sold books (unless you chose your best friend to be your editor and this is the first book they’ve worked with). So let them call the shots on that cover art and who’s going to do it.
Your Readers Don’t Care How Hard You Worked
It’s unfortunate and slightly heartbreaking but it’s absolutely true. The readers that are going to pick up your book really don’t care that you slaved away for hours to create that cover. They really only care what it looks like and if it’s interesting enough for them to turn the book over and read the summary, which will make them interested enough to read the rest of the book.
You’re Competing Against a Million Other Authors
Have you ever walked into a library or a bookstore? There are a ton of books in there and that means you’re competing against every one of them to get someone’s attention. Sure they’re going to look in the section they like best, but everyone has a second best in case nothing good is available from their favorites and if your book doesn’t stand out enough you could be passed over.
Working With Friends
Your friends and family want you to be successful, but in many instances these are people who believe you’re already so great and your book is perfect and the cover is exactly what it should be. Working with them may or may not help you but it doesn’t to ask. They’re going to keep telling you it’s great and you won’t actually get anywhere so make sure everyone is honest. You need real honest input!
Being Impartial Is Extremely Important
Whether you’re designing your own cover or you’re hiring someone you know or you’re hiring a complete stranger, it’s important to be impartial about it. Look at the cover the way someone objective would. Don’t get caught up in how fancy it looks. Decide if it fits your book and if you really think someone will pick up your book because of that cover. If not, it doesn’t matter how cool it is, it doesn’t belong on the cover.
You Need Your Image to Look Good Large
If you design something you want to make sure it’s going to look great when it’s shrunk down to fit into a thumbnail on an eBook and also that it’s going to look great scaled up large for a full-size book. If you create an image intending only to use it online and then realize you want to publish it in print you’ll likely find that the image is too small and then you need to make sure you redo it so there’s no stretching involved that can lead to imperfections.
Assume Your Reader Can See Everything
Even if you think that mistake is too small for anyone else to notice you want to assume that your reader is going to notice it. That means even the tiniest mistake in Photoshopping or the slightest sign of glare needs to be fixed immediately. You don’t want a single imperfection on that cover, no matter how likely it is that your readers will notice it themselves.
No matter what else you do with your book you always want to keep in mind that your readers are going to see the cover first. It might be the front, the back or just the spine, but that cover is the first thing they look at and it makes the decision of whether they’re going to look any further at your book, or keep looking for something else.