Your book cover is your first impression. It’s your marketing, your advertising and your promotion all rolled into one and if your cover is poorly done or unprofessional or even if it doesn’t match the current conventions for the genre you are writing in it will most certainly impact your sales. If your book isn’t selling the way you had hoped, then the very first thing you need to do is take a hard look at your book cover.
If anyone ever says to you, “It’s art, there are no rules,” they are wrong. It’s not art, it’s your book cover design and there are rules and guidelines that should be followed for every book, for every genre, to get the results you need to get from your cover.
Always be sure the choice of font for your title is appropriate to your genre and stick to two (three maximum) fonts total. The world is full of thousands upon thousands of fonts and there’s no reason to use a pre-installed system font (such as Arial or Times New Roman for example) for every piece of text on your cover. You want your titling to be as beautiful as your artwork. That being said, if you’re going to choose a fancy font for your title then choose something simple for the author name. The author name is simply there to impart information.
Remember that it’s not the end of the world if your title covers up part of your cover art. I’ve seen too many covers ruined because the title is too small or horribly off center because the designer didn’t want to cover any of the artwork. Cover design should always be planned out ahead of time with space for a title in mind, so if it’s that important to you that the title doesn’t overlap the main elements of the cover it should be planned for in advance. There are plenty of ways to integrate titling into the design without overlapping elements on the cover. Planning it out ahead of time allows for you to take advantage of some of these by leaving blank space, dropping the title behind one of the elements or even using the title itself as part of the artwork. With proper planning, there’s never any reason your title should look like an afterthought.
Use a teaser or tagline
A teaser, or short tagline, is a good way to get people who see your cover to flip it over and read the description. It’s a good way to impart some information about the genre or book itself that may or may not be a little fuzzy when looking at your cover. It can be used to tell readers that this book is written by the same author who wrote that other book they liked so much.
The only problem with teasers or taglines is they do take up valuable real estate on the cover and can make it look cluttered and messy. If you’re going to use one be sure it is useful, that it fits in the space without making the cover look overly crowded and that you use small font. A tagline should not be the same size is your title, subtitle or the author’s name.
Reviews are another good way to tell people your book is worth reading and getting beta readers or giving out ARCs with the purpose of getting pre-release reviews is generally a good idea. When it comes to your cover however remember that our goal is keeping it simple. As a general rule of thumb reviews should go on the back. If they are very short they can be used on the front in place of a tagline or teaser but using both on the front cover is just going to make your cover look cluttered and disconnected. Always remember it’s not the primary job of your cover to give the reader information or tell the story. It’s simply a way to get people to pick up your book and flip it over. If your cover has done its job then putting those rave reviews on the back is a great way to get people to read your book.
And stay tuned for Part 3 next week!
Joshua Jadon is a book cover designer for New York Times and internationally bestselling authors. His mission is solely to create eye-catching book cover designs that significantly increase the amount of copies each author sells. This aim is accomplished by ensuring that there is always something special in each book cover that catches the interests of potential readers. Find out more at http://www.joshuajadon.com.