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Contents Quick Reference Page Layout Children's Book Family History School Yearbook Poetry Art Book Novel Self-Help Getting Started Editing Choosing a Book Size Choosing a Binding Style Software Image Formats Scanning Book Structure Front Matter Copyright Page Acknowledgments Dedication Table of Contents Foreword / Prologue Core Matter Margins and Bleeds Page Numbering Headers and Footers Font Sizes Font Choices Back Matter Index Registration ISBN Copyright LCCN Cover Design Make Your Own Book Cover Barcode BISAC Codes Cover Coatings Submitting a Book Submitting Files Marketing Creating a Strategy Promotional Ideas Things to Consider Miscellaneous Glossary Papers Yearbook Templates
Getting Started
Book Cover Design

Although most people don’t think of it in this way, a book cover design is an advertisement for your book. Just as with a good ad campaign, a cover design should include the proper use of color, shapes, and copy (text) to be successful. To begin to understand how to make your own book cover, we should first look at what a book cover design should be, and what it should not be. Keep in mind the rules can change depending on what type of book it is you have written. This information is specifically designed for books which are to be marketed, and not for books such as family histories, or memoirs meant only for limited distribution.

What Your Book Cover Design Should Not Be

A book cover design should not be a collage of every character, item, or location mentioned in the book. It should not use a specific color only because that color is a personal favorite. It should not consist of a title of more than 5 words.

What it Should Be

A cover design should be a representation of the overall point of the book. It should be interesting. It should consist of a short title (5 words or fewer), and a subtitle only when the title is not descriptive enough. It should be a simple design with careful use of color and imagery to draw the reader in.

How It Works

When properly designed, your book cover should convey the overall theme of your book in a clear and concise way. Studies show prospective buyers will form an opinion of a book in as little as 2 - 3 seconds. If the front cover design is effective, the would-be buyer will then look at the back cover. If the back cover is properly designed, studies show your book will have an 80% chance of being purchased based on the cover design alone. Sometimes a purchase is made without the book even being opened.

What to Consider

Simplicity - Almost all best selling books have one thing in common; a book cover design based on simplicity. With only a few seconds to make an impression, the cover design must be clear and concise. A busy or confusing cover design will result in your book being overlooked.

Choosing a Title For Your Book

Selecting the proper title for your book can be a challenge. It should properly sum up the point of the book. Your title should be no longer than 5 words (not including words such as and, the, and or) and should only contain words which are commonly used. If you are having difficulty describing your book in five words or fewer, a subtitle may be used.

Use of Color In Your Cover Design

Much has been written on the use of color in marketing, and how the proper use of color in your cover design results in increased sales. For example, since the color blue is widely regarded to be the color of trust, a self-help book would benefit from the use of the color blue on it’s cover. If your book is to be marketed specifically to women, the color purple may be a consideration as this is the second most popular color among women (it is not popular at all among men). The following is a summary of the most popular colors, and what they represent:

  • White - Cleanliness, simplicity, and peace
  • Black - Power and formality, but can also be associated with death
  • Blue - Trust, sincerity, and tranquility
  • Red - Energy, passion and danger
  • Purple - Royalty, creativity, and extravagance
  • Green - Growth, harmony, environment, and safety
  • Yellow - Joy, warmth, and energy
  • Orange - Happiness, creativity, and success
  • Use of Shapes in Your Design

    As with color, the use of shapes can play an important role in the making of an effective cover design. The use of squares or rectangle convey order, stability and trust, while circles convey an idea of completeness. Men strongly prefer the use of squares and rectangles, while women tend to prefer the use of circles and ovals.

    Recommended Font Styles For Your Cover

    It is important to resist the urge to choose a font style because it is your favorite. Font styles each have a personality which can compliment, or be detrimental to your cover design. If you have decided to use two different font styles on your cover, the two fonts should contrast. Using fonts that are only slightly different from each other will be distracting, and take away from the overall design. As well, font sizes should contrast. A subtitle should not be the same size as the main title of your book. An interesting trick which is used is to use a large font size for the author’s name (sometimes larger than the title). This can convey a sense of importance which can lead people to believe you are a well known author. This can improve book sales.

    Novelty fonts should not be used as these fonts tend to be difficult to read, and are thought of as unprofessional. Script fonts should be used sparingly in your design as they tend to be difficult to read, although books targeted to women can use script fonts effectively. Some common font styles used in book cover design are:

  • Arno Pro
  • Minion
  • Garamond
  • Helvetica
  • Trajan Pro
  • Front Cover Components

    The common components found on the front cover are the book title, subtitle, author’s name, images (photographic or illustrated) and a background color. A colored banner area is often used to display the title and / or author’s name. A children’s book will often include the name of the illustrator in the lower area of the front cover. Your publishing company logo can also be placed on the front cover as well as the spine of the book if the available area permits.

    Back Cover Components

    The back cover usually (but not necessarily always) repeats the colors and theme of the front cover. Other components found on the back cover of a book are as follows:

  • Author Photo - The author photo is often a small thumbnail sized image found along with the author bio text. Studies have shown that including an author photo on the back cover of your book can increase the sales of your book by 20%.
  • Author Bio - An author bio is a short description of the author which is usually limited to approximately 100 words. The author bio should be written in the third person. It can contain information such as work history, where you live, hobbies, life experiences etc.
  • Synopsis - As with the Author Bio, the Synopsis should be limited to approximately 100 words. The synopsis should be written in the same tone as the book, and should draw the reader in. You should focus on what makes your book unique and interesting.
  • Barcode
  • BISAC code
  • Price - The price of a book can be printed on the back cover as well as encoded in the barcode on the back cover of the book. We recommend not printing the price on your book cover on the first printing of your book as this will limit your ability to change your retail price later on. Some retailers such as Barnes and Noble may require the price be printed on the cover as well as encoded in the barcode.
  • Sizing Your Book Cover

    We provide cover measurements to ensure your cover design is ready for printing. Please contact us to request the proper measurements for your cover.

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