Let’s face it, designing a book cover is not easy. At times it can be very difficult, and not just because you want it to look exactly how you dreamed it would be…the quality of your book cover will affect your book’s success on the market. That adds a lot of pressure!
So what should you do if your inspiration is running dry, you’re completely out of ideas, and have no idea what to do with your book cover? Here are some tips on how to get your creativity flowing again.
Break the Rules First, Then Follow Them
There are a lot of helpful rules out there in regards to book cover design. Some of these are good to know beforehand – such as not using your own artwork on the cover. But keeping track of every single rule out there may hinder your creativity, even though they are good rules to know.
Good writers know that the first draft of their book is going to be sloppy, poor writing…and really, it should be. If your goal in writing the first draft is to make it perfect, your imagination will be stunted from the start. Never exchange proper structure and grammar for creativity and unlimited possibilities. Again, good writers know this.
The same principle applies to your book cover design.
Start your design without worrying about all the tips you’re going to find everywhere. Don’t worry if the colors do not coordinate, or if you picked the perfect font, or if the images you use are the exact ones needed to capture what your book is about.
Once your idea is put down and you have the rough beginnings of your book cover, then go back and start polishing it up and putting those rules to use.
Browse Book Covers Online – Good Ones And Bad Ones
If you’re lacking some inspiration, look around to see how others have designed their book covers. Soak up the creativity. Make notes of which ones were your favorites, which ones caught your eye first, and which ones you hated, and why.
In your searching online, make a list of ideas you have for your book. These ideas can be anything you want…images, color, moods, or anything else you want to be included in your book cover. Then use these specific tag lines in your browsing to narrow down what sort of ideas you want to explore. For example, maybe you want your book cover to be minimalist. Look up the most popular or most clever minimalist book covers of recent years. Or maybe you want your book cover to be dark and gritty. Search for book covers with that description and see what you can find. You might pick up on a few patterns that you can use for your own book cover. Likewise, you might notice patterns that have become cliché that you can deliberately break or put a twist on.
Pinterest is also fantastic for looking up ideas. Search for book covers and designs and make your own board of your favorite ones. Look up any images or themes you want to use for your book cover and see what you find.
If nothing else, use websites like bookcoverarchive.com for general browsing and finding links to other helpful websites to check out. Or look up the top rated book covers of all time, and if possible, articles that explain why each book cover was so effective.
Finally, don’t be afraid to look up the worst book covers of all time. They may be laughable but you may pick up on certain things and realize, in context as the viewer, why they don’t work. Knowing what not to do for your cover can be just as helpful as knowing what to do.
View Your Book As The Reader, Not The Author
Of course, being the author, you need to think about how your book cover will draw in readers. How it will capture the essence of your book. What message it will send to your audience.
But it can become risky to think only as the author in this way, and constantly worry about how the book cover will reflect both on your book and yourself. Ultimately, the book cover is not out there to please you…it is there to please the readers. Therefore, if you get caught up in only viewing the book cover design as the author, you might miss important points that otherwise would capture more readers.
Give yourself chances to step back from the role of the author, and see your book as your readers will. Instead of asking “does this cover capture what my book is about?”, ask “would I want to find out what this book is about if I looked at the cover?” Ask what would make you want to read the book more. Ask what emotions the cover stirs up in you.
Once you know what your readers will want and need for a book cover, you are well on your way to creating an eye-grabbing, brilliant, and effective design.