Creative and effective book cover ideas and concepts are sadly not as common in the publishing industry as I’d like them to be.
Why is that such a problem?
Sure, it’s nice to think, “once they start reading my book they’ll love it,” or “once they read my description they’ll want to buy it,” or “once they see I have mostly 5-star reviews they’ll for sure purchase it.”
But this isn’t how it works.
Your cover is your first impression. It tells shoppers how professional you are, it also tells shoppers what genre the book belongs in, and like it or not – it tells shoppers whether or not your book is worth their time. Ouch.
That’s why book cover ideas, and brainstorming, and market research, are all critical elements to prepping for book for retail sale.
It’s hard to hear, but I always want to be honest with authors, “good enough” doesn’t count in publishing anymore.
So when I ran across a piece published by Anne Carton on DesignHill, I knew I wanted to run through her tips for you all so you start to understand how much goes into coming up with amazon book cover ideas.
I also want to be clear that I think the following tips are critical for both independently published authors and traditionally published authors alike. Because no matter how you publish, you have to be educated on your market, and you have to be ready to be your own best advocate.
I’ve seen plenty of ineffective and just plain bad covers from publishers, so don’t assume just because they’re designing it for you, that it’s going to be spot on. Be prepared to push back and request revisions until you feel you have a cover that will help you sell more books.
So read on and educate yourself!
1. Hire an Experienced Designer
This may seem like an obvious point, but what’s important to consider here is that a designer doesn’t just pump out the cover files for you, good designers are advisors as well, and industry experts in their own right.
So hiring a designer to discuss book cover ideas is an investment in the life of your career as an author, it goes well beyond the current book you’re working on.
2. Have a Unique Book Cover Concept
What this means is unique to your story. This doesn’t mean come out of left field with a design that doesn’t look like it belongs in your genre – it just means it’s really smart to come up with a book cover idea that incorporates unique elements of your story or brand.
3. Highlight a Single Element
Don’t let your cover get too busy, plain and simple. Go for the “wow factor” and avoid making a shoppers eye try to process too many elements at once.
4. Use Size and Scale
We talk to our clients about this a lot, it’s a common problem. Title font that’s too small, or an author name that’s too small is the most common issue I see. Scale matters.
5. Avoid Clutter
Too many colors, images, font styles, all of it, confuses the eye and no one has time for that. Don’t try to cram all your storyline concepts into one book cover idea, it never works.
6. Choose Typefaces Carefully
Typefaces, or fonts, are art all on their own. Different fonts convey different moods and vibes, and you’ll see this if you check out the most common types of fonts used for books on the thriller bestseller list versus the cozy mystery bestseller list, versus the spiritual self-help bestseller list – you get the idea.
7. Consider the Cover Size
Oh my gosh we say this all the time! It’s easy to fall in love with a book cover idea when it’s taking up your whole computer screen.
But shrink it down to a thumbnail, does it still have the “wow factor” we’re looking for? Sometimes it does, and that’s a good design. But oftentimes it doesn’t, which means it’s time to tweak a few things.
8. Keep the Cover Design Simple
This kind of pulls together a lot of these tips into one, but it’s worth driving it home. You have two tenths of a second to make a visual first impression. Wild huh?
So if your book cover idea doesn’t immediately tell a shopper what your book is about and what genre it belongs in, the work isn’t done.
9. Consider Print and Digital Aspects
This is something that doesn’t get discussed a lot so I was thrilled to see this included. There are still a lot of authors who release their eBook first, and I’m totally good with this, I often recommend it, especially for genre fiction.
But don’t be so focused on your eBook that you forget your print cover dimensions and needs will be different so plan for that.
10. Prefer Vector Over Pixels
This is more technical – but what it comes down is not all files are created equal. A good designer will know what will work best based on the platforms you’re planning on using to list your book.
But again, you should know these things, take notes, be prepared to be your own best advocate.
11. Consider Visual Branding
Everything is your brand, I say it all the time. Book cover ideas should also support your brand just like everything else you put out there. And brand consistency is important.
If you have a fiction series the covers should all be very similar so they clearly stand out as a series.
If you write non-fiction and have multiple titles under the same general topic, consistency is also key and your book cover ideas can help strengthen your brand. Simple details like using the same font size and style for your author name across each book can dramatically improve the perceived professionalism of your brand. It shows you’re paying attention and long term, which naturally makes you more trustworthy and more of a sure thing.
Resources and Free Downloads
Be sure to check out the original piece on DesignHill’s website for Anne’s full tips and some excellent book cover examples!
How closely are marketing and book sales linked?
Be sure to check out (and follow and review!) our book marketing podcast!
How to get more book reviews on Amazon through special promotions.