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How to Design a Book Cover in 2021 – The Ultimate Guide

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The bottom line of a good book cover design is to attract readers and make them buy it. But, sadly, the cover design comes in all forms. Some are hilarious, and some are unattended. Imagine your book sitting silently on the shelf every time you visit the gallery. As an author, it pains to see your efforts go in vain. Is the cover too bad to be ignored? You have to accept the answer with a pinch of salt. Yes, If the book cover isn’t appealing visually, there’s less chance of peeking inside. To make your book shine from a distance, you need a compelling design. Check out these hints on how to design a book cover.

Appealing book cover making

Before you jumpstart cover designing, here are a few tips:

  • Everything starts with you.
  • Restricting to one genre leads to nowhere
  • It’s all about the book positioning
  • The smallest thing can make a difference

How to design a book cover – Unpack the process

1. Primary elements of the cover

Book cover unfolds the three sides in the front, back, and the vertical edge (spine).

The thickness of the spine holds all the papers. The cover gives readers what they can expect from the book. You should know the anatomy of the book to make the right choice. Let’s flip through to the structure:

2. Format

What is the layout of your book? Who will be reading the book, and what mode they prefer? Is the reading community online or offline? These are some of the potential questions that skyrocket your book sales.

In the digital sphere, the book can show in different formats. Authors commonly use print, e-book, audiobook, or both online. The choice of format changes the elements of design. When it’s about the physical copy, there are two standard formats: Paperback and hardback.

A paperback is of thick paper or paperboard cover. You can glue the pages with gum. Contrary to paperback, the hardback uses fabric, fabric, or leather for thickness.

The paperback has flaps on either side. While in the hardback, there no cover per se. For example, the glossy surface of the magazines is the first thing the readers see.

It’s also possible to make hardbacks with the dust jacket. They are detachable. You can also make design directly on the cardboard. You should pick what’s best for you.

Know the number of pages before designing a cover. The size of the book should be the cover size. It’s better to create at last because it’s easy to explain the crux easily.

Don’t forget your purpose. The cover format should set the tone of the book. For example, most of the entertainment magazine glossy cover because they have shiny surfaces.

While these are some fail-safe examples, you can also be subjective with your choice. The choice you make can change the book price.

Having a look at color theory psychology would also be helpful

3. Market research

Whether you’re a debut author or an advanced author, you can’t skip the research. It’s the key to positioning your book. Research helps you match the vision of your book to future readers.

Scan your niche while deciding your format. Find authors who have written for a similar category. Genres sell better in paperback while literary fiction, thrillers, and biographies are better with a hardback.

Research helps you know the interest. People prefer light-weighted covers while travelling. On the other hand, hardcovers are for the public shelf.

Writing a book isn’t a butt-in-seat project. It’s a long process that can’t happen overnight.

4. Design that sell your story

Choose a suitable design for your book. Every story has different categories. Your cover should talk about the book itself. Strike a balance between texts and imageries to sync with your story.

The cover is the soul of the book. The purpose of the cover is to sell the book. But, if the cover isn’t serving the goal, you’re heading towards failure. For example, your cover should be contextual. If the book is historical, the surface must reveal it.

Discuss with your designer to present the chunk of words artistically. Use Pinterest and Behance to learn the trends. Find book cover designers to get inspired. It would help if you also visited the bookstores to see the work of other authors.

5. Give importance to what matters

Don’t downplay the critical elements of your book. Emphasize what matters to you. Whether it’s a dust jacket, paper, or simply hardback, every book has a USP.

Unleash the characters to pique the audience. Look for ways to stand out when you see a similar book on the shelf. The goal of branding should be to make it a bestselling book.

In some cases, you have to be consistent. For example, a sequel should stick to the standards and keep readers at the edge of the seat. It would help if you didn’t lose your readers’ interest over inconsistencies.

Author Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ series follows the same pattern. The black backdrop and a stand-alone is symbolic. The fruit represents the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden. The author uses the same color palette and theme throughout the series.

The book by Stephenie Meyer has hit the bestseller list despite it being the same old love story.

6. Let the elements do the talking

In designing, details hold a special place. They are the building block of your cover design. Collaborate with a designer who can bring your wildest imagination alive. A good book cover makes the book worth reading.

From a sole image to an artwork, go above and beyond to be creative. When it comes to creativity, there’s no boundary. People get it if they see it.

Also, what is the maximum number of elements? How do you tackle different aspects? Composition put all things together. The arrangement of elements gives perspective to the readers.

At its core, the book is your masterpiece. Do what is right for you. Your choice of the element can help you brand yourself. So be careful. You have the right to do anything with your book. But, not everything will fit right for you.

Consider the elements that elevate your book cover. Avoid irrelevant details or push them forcibly. Too much of nothing is meaningless. It can also mislead readers.

Selecting an image can be a tricky task. Save your day by using your visuals. Personal photos increase credibility. Stock images are overused. People like it if your book has something new. Don’t be one of the books that lose its shelf value over a copyright issue.

Mistakes every author is tired of repeating

1. When the cover is cluttered

Publishing can be a painful task when you work with less experienced designers. Always hire someone who knows A-Z of designing.

Don’t treat the cover as a dumping ground. You can run into a problem if you overload your cover. Here are the common issues when you overload your cover:

  • Improper element placement can change the meaning.
  • Lack of space can stop the elements from standing out.

FYI, simplicity is the best policy in book designing.

2. When you force the genre on readers

Stick to your genre. If the genre doesn’t match with your book, don’t push it hard. As per the law of least effort, if you attempt things forcibly, the world will resist. The same goes for your cover design.

Don’t make the readers bypass you because of an irrelevant genre. If it’s a sci-fi book, a romance or thrillers cover can backfire.

3. When the font fails you

Font failure is undeniable because it can turn the table around. A wrong font can mislead your readers. Your font choice determines the book’s tone.

For example, you can use serif fonts to show fantasy. They are formal and futuristic. Remember, not all fonts are meant for cover. You can screw your design with the wrong font.

Don’t make the readers hate you for your font. Afterall, the book is meant for reading. But, if it’s not legible, it disappoints the readers.

4. When you give your reader an “ahem” moment

Uninteresting images can bore readers. It can sound cliche, but images speak a million words. Use the best quality images to attract readers.

A stretched image leaves blurriness. Ensure you have hi-res images that leave no stretch marks. Small images can’t fill the space. When you overstretch it, it loses its originality.

Here’s how you can sell your first 1000 copies of your book:

  • Catchy title
  • Readable fonts and colors
  • Unwanted elements unloading
  • Right genre

While you’re on cloud nine about your book, don’t miss out on the little things that matter most. Though it may be good from inside, a bad cover may pour cold water on your work.

It’s time to level up. Make the most of what you’ve learned to give readers a million-dollar smile. Check out inspiring book cover design ideas at All Time Design


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